Thursday, January 27, 2011

Discovering my Need to Succeed

My first and... and then second attempt at making Rooti

Arriving back in K-town it felt like home- yellow taxis, streets alive with people, the smells of Indian food and rotting garbage. Hmmm hmmm...Home sweet home. On my mind was the future; doing a masters program, potential research, applying for my new organization, working part-time at Freeset with my 2 best friends. All these ideas of “who I might be in 2011” swimming about in my head. But not for too long…

To my surprise, when I went to discuss my part time role at Freeset with my boss, I was faced with a hard choice; either work full-time at Freeset and move into a middle-class apartment or continue living with Shikha to focus on learning Bengali in which case they could not offer me a part-time role. From his perspective, my living with Shikha was getting in the way of doing my best work and causing problems for others. I was devastated (beyond what I would like to openly admit on my blog)

I was at a cross roads between the community I have grown to love this last year and still wished to partner with and … and the Servants community that I am applying for and I feel called to join…(but cannot officially until training this September)

In the end, I felt I needed to begin my journey with Servants… even if it was un-official. But now what do until September 2011… just live here?

The next day, I accompanied a Servants member still looking for a home in the slums in the north part of the city when we stumbled across a little place perfect for 2. She looked at me…the thought crossed my mind… “I wonder what it would be like to live here?”

Unlike the crowded and polluted alleys of Sonagacchi, this community felt safe, spread out, and restful. I had a sense of peace that this is exactly what God was doing all along. I need a safe place to slow down and grow into my new community as I focus on language and culture. So within 2 weeks, and after lots of hard conversations, I found myself hugging Shikha good-bye and climbing into a taxi (although I will still visit once a week).

Me and my new room mate Meghan as we head off to our new home

This situation was has been an incredibly stressful turn of events... I even considered flying home until September training. But in the midst of all the anxiety, I have been given a glimpse into seeing myself more truthfully and that is a true gift. Probably not a surprise to many of you but this month I was shocked to find out I am actually an over-achiever. (I know, laugh it up). But on a serious note, whether I would like to see it or not, this means my self-worth is dangerously caught up in how others view me and the success of my work. I know you are wondering… how in the world did you manage to discover this about yourself Melissa?

Glad to answer, I have been exploring this part of me using a spiritual tool called the Enneagram. This tool has Christian roots starting as far back as 350AD with a desert monk Evagrius Ponticus but today you can find tests and readings easily online. Basically the Enneagram describes 9 basic personality types and how these interact together and with God. Each type has a basic gift and a basic need. As we attempt to meet our own needs outside of God, we head down a destructive path. But as we grow aware of our needs and how God is the One who fulfills it, then we grow liberated from our own destructive ways and into the gift of who God is making us to be.

Check out the link to learn more:

Using this tool does not give us the answers, it actually just helps us ask the right questions. For instance, why did I rush into living with Shikha? Looking back, I think part of me unknowingly really wanted to push myself to gain the respect of my western peers. But that backfired, being the oddball living with a local did not impress them and in fact it may have made some feel guilty for not living this way (shoot!). Plus the stressful home environment exhausted me so that I could barely keep up with 4 hours of work- so no one really benefited. <----Our new bedroom

I like to think of it like this; there is this little Melissa inside of me scheming to get people's attention by doing good stuff, but I never see her false motives until her plans go array and hurt the folks around her. It's connecting this little person inside me with the Love of God she so desires that will liberate her from all this scheming so she is free to just love regardless of being affirmed by others. As I learn this about myself, it’s humbling or rather humiliating… how ever you want to phrase it. And I am discovering there is lots to learn about just "being" with God. Now that I see this, I can begin to explore a love not dependent on what I can or cannot achieve for God. A love that delights in me regardless.

our new kitchen--->

These next few months I will have lots of time on my hands; I hope this experience helps me grow into that unconditional love I so desperately long for and have been looking for in the wrong places. 2011 is not exactly as "productive" as I imagined, but like my train ride here, it's been full of surprises and the unexpected way God always gives me exactly what I need.


  1. Melissa, I am so blessed by your intentional reflection, prayers, openness to God, and your abundant love for your community. I am thankful that you have a way to explore and discover yourself, and come to terms with things that are hard to face. I am so proud of you: your dedication to wholeness, community, justice, and faithfulness is such a blessing to all--within the Body of Christ, and among all of God's people. In short, I think you're great. :)
    Blessings to you in this new part of your journey! I hope to have a little Skypie date wit you soon.

    PS Enneagram is a little spooky in its accuracy. I'm a type 4--surprise, surprise. :)

  2. Yeah Enneagram :) I like your blogs. They make me hopeful. Love, love, love.