Aran had a problem. While completing his undergraduate and graduate study in the U.S., he had experienced the lure of comfort. He slowly became accustomed to many amenities he often didn’t have in his home country of Kyrgyzstan.
In America, he had a nice apartment with constant electricity and hot water. He had been given a car by a loving Christian friend and enjoyed living in a place with fresh air. His stipend from the American government covered all his needs. His experience of living in the U.S. had led him to enjoy the creature comforts of the U.S.
We first met him when he arrived to do graduate work in our city. He was a newlywed, but had left his wife back home as he pursued a dream through a prestigious scholarship in the U.S. He missed his new wife so much. In time, we found a way to bring her over to be with him.
During their two-year stay, they had their first child, and they delighted in the process of becoming parents. Now they were preparing to return to central Asia where conditions would be much harsher.
“I admit that I’m weak. I’d like to stay in this place. We have so much here, and yet I know that God wants me to go back to my people.”
Others Have Walked this Way as Well
Many international students experience a similar struggle when they return to their home countries, leaving the material wealth and security so many Americans take for granted.
In some of their home countries, they may have electricity only certain times of the day or days of the week. The air or the water might be very polluted, or there might be frequent natural disasters causing terrible devastation.
Aran faced his imminent return philosophically.
A Changed Heart and Mindset
Aran had first studied in America doing language training in Texas. There, he developed relationships with some Christians whom he admired. He later became a Christian himself.
Before moving to our city to pursue graduate studies, his entire extended family chose to become Christ-followers through his influence. Aran had also established a fellowship with others in his program.
Aran’s newfound faith informed his sense of purpose and perspective. He came to realize he wasn’t only following the orders of his government to be there. He now had a heavenly commander to guide and direct his steps.
Keeping the Faith
After finishing his graduate degree and leaving our city, Aran got a job as a UN Peacekeeper in a war-torn African country.
In an email, he wrote, “I pray and read God’s Word every day. I am thankful to Him for His strength He has given me by constant guidance through many situations here. The change was tremendous for me when I arrived from the paradise of your city to war-torn Liberia.”
“But through this transformation, God spoke to me and showed me many things. Soon, I started looking at things differently. I met many local believers, who despite hardships, have not lost joy and peace in their hearts."
Our Takeaway from Aran’s Story
So, what can we learn through Aran’s experiences?
- Comfort is always a lure. If it is pursued with a mindset contrary to our calling, then it is a distraction and obstacle to living out our very best life.
- No one is immune. In fact, if you have come from an impoverished or modest background, you may even be more drawn to comfort.
- But comfort is not always bad. In fact, it is something for which most of us strive. But we must consider, where do we draw the line? The answer is a very personal one, requiring some self-reflection.
Economic plenty can be a wall that divides haves from have-nots. It’s no secret that Americans consume a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources.
Learning how to conserve precious resources more, appreciate what we do have, and be even more generous with that are keys to living a more balanced, equitable and compassionate life.
Where do you draw your lines for comfort? How important is its pursuit to you?