5 Lessons Our Foreign Exchange Student Taught Me
I was in the middle of my prayer time when I received a message from a Facebook friend. It was crazy last-minute, but she wondered if we would consider hosting the 16-year-old son of a friend of hers from Spain for three weeks.
I hadn’t seen my Facebook friend in years, I didn’t know her Spanish friend, and I certainly didn’t know her son. But I knew that I was supposed to do this.
I asked my husband and kids what they thought and they were game. So a week later, we met Lucas. The idea was he would stay with us after his family went home from their American vacation so he could learn more about our culture and improve his English. I thought it would be a good opportunity for my kids to learn about Spain and improve their Spanish.
I figured I would learn some things, too. But I had no idea how life-changing the lessons would be.
#1 We’re not in a hurry.
When Lucas first arrived, we enjoyed using Google translate to communicate. I was frustrated with the slowness of my computer and kept clicking on the same tab trying to get it to cooperate. That’s the first time he told me we weren’t in a hurry. After several more situations in which I found myself frantic only to have Lucas remind me that we weren’t in a hurry, I realized he was right. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I was living like I was.
#2 Why not?
Most of the time if we asked Lucas if he wanted to do something, he would respond, “Why not?” After three weeks of this, I realized that I usually provide plenty of why not’s. See Lesson #1. I’m always in a hurry and don’t feel I have the time to do spontaneous things that would add joy to my life. We would usually laugh when Lucas would say this because it’s such a great response. I want to live in a Why-not way.
#3 It’s perfect.
From our home, to my husband’s physique, to my teen’s driving, Lucas refused to agree to any criticism. He insisted that it was all perfect. I didn’t realize before his visit how often I tell myself and others what’s wrong with life, instead of acknowledging that it’s fine the way it is.
#4 Is it important?
The morning Lucas was leaving, he had on a dress shirt that was wrinkled. I kept insisting he let me iron it for him and he refused. Finally he asked me in all sincerity, “Is it important?” I hung my head because no, it wasn’t. What’s more, I realized that I’ve been in a hurry, refusing to do fun things, because I see imperfections in things that just aren’t important.
#5 I go with you.
Lucas insisted on accompanying me to the grocery store at the beginning of his visit. I assumed his mother had threatened him to be helpful to us, so I wasn’t as impressed by this as I was with the other occasions he wanted to be with us. My husband had to drop us off at the zoo entrance and go off to find parking. Lucas was there telling him, “I go with you.” When my son, Sam, played guitar for the first time at church, Lucas told me he preferred to sit close to Sam. Of course, he pronounced his performance ‘perfect.’ Lucas’s example made me realize how many times I don’t take the opportunity to go with the people I love, whether it’s to help them, keep them company, or to encourage them.
I know why I was supposed to host Lucas. God had some lessons to teach me that had nothing to do with Spanish. God wanted me to know that I’m not in a hurry, that there’s no good reason not to do something fun spur-of-the-moment, that I’m OK just the way I am, that most of what I worry about isn’t important, and that He is going with me wherever I go.
Do you need to learn any of the lessons Lucas taught me?