27 August 2017

The Painful In-Between

 (Written several days ago)

It’s day 3. We returned to our home in the Middle East a few nights ago. The preparation to travel was probably some of the smoothest and stress-free we’ve ever had! My systems are getting better and I’m getting better at putting just the right amount of things on our calendar so that we aren’t exhausted by the end of our Stateside visit. I’m so thankful to God for His guidance and help.

And then we were in four airports and on three airplanes. That was HARD. The big kids are rock stars. Lil’ A is okay. But Mister B is a nightmare. He is the hardest child we have ever traveled with. It’s basically 30 hours of torture. For him, apparently, and then of course, for us! Just so very deeply hard. Requiring depths of patience that comes only from the Holy Spirit… definitely not within myself.

But in the end you know you’re going to reach your destination and the airplanes will be in the past. It always works that way, thank goodness. And it was true again. Even all of our copious amounts of luggage arrived. Glory!

We crashed at midnight in our beds and it felt oh-so-good. That is one good feeling, lemmetellya.

Day one I managed to unpack everything. I didn't even have that as a goal, but I did it by around 3pm. Mike would like you to know that he took all the zip ties off the totes AND he put away the books. Way to go babe! So I guess I didn’t do it single handedly. Physically, I was fine. Emotionally, I was struggling.
It’s the painful in-between.  Feeling out of place and so out of routine. Feeling hot and dusty and missing family and backyard and wondering ‘Why are we living here?’.

Day two was also an emotional challenge. I ended the day in tears, wondering if this is really what I want to do each year? I live in the Middle East and generally feel quite settled and normal and happy. But interrupting life here each summer has a cost to it. I loose my groove in every area of my life as I leave my place on this side of the globe to go be with dear family and friends on the other side of the globe. Once I’m in the States, I have to find some other sort of groove there. I still reverse culture shock, and I find myself confused at times, knowing that I don’t really have a place living in Ohio or Colorado anymore. Yet I will never be 100% at home in Africa either, because I’m not African. It’s this strange spinning in circles mentally that seems to happen each year.

So basically.

I DON’T BELONG ANYWHERE.

Or at least that’s how it feels. Or maybe it’s true and that’s okay.
Anyway, after a couple weeks in the States, I adjust and we truly do enjoy our time there so much! There are thousands of things to love and appreciate about America. Most of them the precious people that fill our lives. Talk about a heart overflowing!! I am RICH in relationship.

But then.

Then it’s time to go again.

And my kids start to realize they won’t see their besties or their cousins or Grandparents for a year. They realize they’re going back to no yard, no bike, no close friends, a school where they are mini celebrities. They get teary and this Mama can’t handle it and then I wonder…

“Is this really what I want to do each year?”

It feels like we give up our contented groove for some short-term USA confusion. The confusion turns to joy for a while, and then the joy turns to grieving. Every. Single. Time. Mentally spinning circles Each time we feel the loss over again. Yes, maybe it’s getting easier each time, but maybe it’s just waxing and waning for each member of the family according to where they’re at emotionally at that time. All 6 of us go through this to some degree coming and go. OH THE EMOTIONS!

So then we arrive back in the Middle East and the confusion comes back in waves. Why am I living here again? Why do we do this to ourselves? Is this what I want? Am I crazy?
Then I try hard to remember.
Okay yes I remember. Right. I love it here! Most of the time. My life is here, I just need a little time to find my groove. It’s day 3 and my groove is returning already, thank you God! But even those few painful in-between days sent me reeling.

In the midst of the pain and grieving and confusion, I truly did ask myself “Is this really what I want to do each year?” I thoughtfully considered my answer. And I arrived at a confident…

YES

Yes. This IS what I want to do each year. Why? Because I value building our life in this part of the world SO much. I am so thankful to be raising my kids in a foreign country. I like living in a place where I feel foreign, so that I can daily be reminded that this planet is NOT MY HOME. Why should I feel completely at home when I am NOT at home until I find myself in heaven? I’m not willing to give up my life overseas.

Also.

I DO want to travel to the States each summer if possible. Why? Because I value our relationships so very much. Our families and friends are treasures in our lives and mean so much to us. And I want my kiddos to feel like Americans. I want them to know their cousins. I want them to have a backyard and bikes for a month and not always be mini celebrities. These things are also important to me. I am not willing to give up re-connecting with family and friends and getting a dose of ‘USA’ each year.

I guess that decides it! We will do both unless God leads otherwise.

So even though the in-between is supremely painful, I continue to pass through it. Good things don’t come free, right? And what we have is pretty darn good in both places. The in-between HURTS. But I’ve decided the cost is worth it. Would someone remind me of that next year when I’m reeling in the confusion please?

In closing, I’d like to give glory to the One who showed me that having relationship and walking in God’s will is worth a painful cost. That’d be my Jesus. He’s my inspiration and (thankfully) my friend that goes everywhere with me and loves me deeply even in the midst of my confusion.

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