Our first winter In Japan

We’re making our way through the first of (hopefully) many winters here in Japan. With an average temperature floating between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, we’ve had some beautiful days despite being the coldest time of the year.

Though it has been a really difficult month in some ways, we’re still doing quite well! Every day we seem to understand a little more of the language, and our day-to-day routines here in Japan are becoming more familiar.

New student Takoyaki party
Dinner with friends!
Japanese gesture game
I wasn’t very good at this at all…
Lunch with Friends!
Lots of Japanese homework, everyday!

Having just started this series on “what I’m learning,” I went into the month really excited about writing this post. I began taking notes of everything I was learning. It’s amazing how much more you notice when you’re looking for something! In just a few days I realized I had way too much to fit in a month’s blog, leaving me with the chance to pick my favorites.

So here it is! This is what I’ve been learning this month:

There Are Only Two Outcomes

I’m no cross-fitter, but, as someone who enjoys weight-lifting I’ve become a fan of the sport over the last couple of years. This guy, Mat Fraser, is the 4-time back to back winner of the Crossfit games and is one of few non-acquaintances I follow on social media. His work etiquette and self-discipline is inspiring.

Recently, Fraser was asked on Instagram, “How do you handle college and CrossFit at once?” To which he replied,

Cut all of the bull**** out of your life. Every decision you make has two outcomes. One that brings you closer to your goal, and one that takes you further away. I refused to do a single thing that would even take me an inch away from my goals.

Mat fraser

A champion’s perspective if I’ve ever seen one. I love the simplicity of categorizing everything as either helpful (in achieving your goals) or not. In perhaps the busiest season of my life, this perspective encourages me to sort through everything going on, pick out what will help me attain my goals, set aside what doesn’t, and keep my “nose to the grindstone.”

Masking Ourselves Masks Connection

I just recently got into a couple new podcasts. From something I listened to early in the month, this line stuck out to me.

“When you wear a mask and try to connect with someone, you’re never going to feel fulfilled because they are accepting the mask, not you. “

The Liberation Project. Podcast

Relational connection is a topic that keeps popping up around us lately. But, I’ve not took the time to consider how being fake can impact our feelings of connection.

Thinking on this quote, my mind immediately goes to performance based cultures. In such places the accepted norm is to don these masks, toe the line, perform and conform. But, while doing this, our relationships can feel void of true connection, leaving us feeling alone despite any number of others around us. Throwing back to the 3 qualities of “Frientimacy” which I discussed last month, these masks rob us of 2 out of the 3.

Vulnerability -> “Instead of being vulnerable, I am hiding myself from you.”
Consistency -> “Because of this facade, I may never be consistent in action, desires, likes/dislikes, etc.”

Why do we wear these masks?

Perhaps we’re ashamed of the person behind the mask, and their past failures. Maybe we’re afraid of rejection, “What if they see who I really am and dislike it?” Self-hatred, insecurity, fearing we’d fail to meet expectations to fit a certain mold, and so on… All reasons to motivate a need to protect ourselves. Yet, all masks eventually crack. The pressure to maintain such a charade is exhausting and the results are unfulfilling. It is not the solution.

It has to be us

To feel really connected, it has to be the real us who is being connected to. We need to deconstruct our masks.

But, how?

Danielle and I have come to call this “sitting in front of the waterfall of truth” (in reference to one of our favorite shows). We all need to take the time to learn to see who we really are, and then learn to love and accept that person.

This process can’t be really finished by ourselves. Jesus has addressed every reason to don a mask in the first place. Our shames: covered. Our sin: forgiven. Our self-hatred: washed away. Our worth: defined. When we allow Truth to define us, allow our identity to be rooted in Him, all of our masks become unnecessary.

What We Can Glean From Disappointment

When we hope for one outcome, but something less than that occurs; that is disappointment. This month brought with it a set of three disappointments, each nearly identical in nature. But, thanks to the following, I’ve been able to learn something valuable about myself in the midst of it:

“(Disappointment) helps you better understand what is important to you, if you examine the cause of your disappointment… In other words, we can find insight and wisdom from our encounters with disappointment when we look beneath the surface.”

I’m sure we’d all rather learn about ourselves in less painful ways, but this lesson actually helped me process through my disappointments and understand why they made me feel the way I did.

Kris Vallotton says “Vision gives pain a purpose.” Though his intention is something a long the lines of “because I have a vision, I can push through the hard things,” I believe that sometimes we’re in a reversed situation.

In some cases, we can find the pain before we discover the details of the purpose we’re moving towards. We can take these opportunities to learn about ourselves and perhaps develop vision in areas we’ve yet been able to clearly define.

Leaders Are Caretakers of Their People (Cont.), Even When It Costs Them

Last month I shared that line, “Leaders are caretakers of their people.” Continuing on that theme, I came across this story this month. I have no way to know if this story is true, but I love it none the less.

Today’s self-help messages are overflowing with “me me me”. We’re told to “protect yourself, protect your time, protect your interests.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of keeping ourselves healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I just don’t think we can forget that we, as Christians, are commanded to love, and love in it’s greatest form is giving yourself away.

A good friend/leader looks out for their people (and their interests), often at their own expense.

Prayer requests

  • For health: Danielle and I both keep getting sick and it keeps getting in the way of what we need/want to do.
  • For discipline: That we would be able to continue to work diligently toward our goals.
  • For divine connections: With our classmates, neighbors, other believers, etc.
  • For understanding: In our language and cultural studies, and what God is doing in our area.

Thanks for reading!

Have any thoughts on these four things I’m learning? Share them!

With love,
The Wahls


  • Brian

    Thanks for sharing! It is always encouraging to hear about your diligence as you guys face the stress and challenges of a whole new language and culture.

  • Chois

    So good and reading this on my train ride home after just spending time with you all. Love you guys and keep facing that waterfall. So good. It’s a sight to behold and admire with the eyes and heart of God. Let’s not be afraid of what we will find as scary as it may feel. ❤️?

  • Jen

    Thanks Cody and Danielle for sharing your journey and insights with us. You are so good at articulating what your learning! Love you both

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