“Blessed will you be when you come in (home), and blessed will you be when you go out..” Deut 28:6
Recently during my morning quiet time, I was reading through some BLOGs and articles, from a particular ministry we are connected with. Suddenly, I found myself in tears. The series I was reading came from a family who, after almost two decades of serving abroad, are coming home to the United States permanently. Tears for me, are not a usual occurrence as I am not an overly sentimental person but a particularly tender spot was touched as I read.
Culture Shock Coming Home
I have never been a missionary in a formal way, but I have lived abroad. Twice. The first was for just under a year to study at University as my husband worked on his Doctorate. The second, was almost five years in my work with the FAA. While abroad, as Christians, we sought out and formed bonds with fellow believers, expanded our cultural norms, not to mention learning to function in a new language and country. Both times, we experienced all the effects of culture shock, going and coming home.
It is not the same a traveling abroad, for vacation or short term missions. Yes, those experiences are valuable and can be life changing, but long term times away is a whole different level of experience. Nothing is the same: it changes you, expands you, and adds parts to your being that those to whom you are returning cannot relate. It is an exclusive club. It hurts, but you wouldn’t change a thing.
Coming Home To The Unknown
As I read this particular BLOG and the transition coming for this family, my heart went out in both prayer and empathy. Decades ministering while learning, stretching and loving. Taking risks for the sake of love. Children growing up abroad now coming “home” to a home they do not yet know. Of course, for this family there have been furloughs and visits home. Yet roots have been put down in other soil and now must be transplanted. Fields of seed, sprouts and harvest must be handed to another to continue to cultivate.
For lifelong missionaries, this scenario is “normal”, but it does not change the effect it has on the soul of a person. As Christians our Anchor and Rock are in Jesus. He never changes. This unseen, yet real stabilizer holds us steady at a level deeper than our very soul.
Clinging To The Unseen Known
On our last trip home from living abroad, I cried the entire way across the Atlantic. Again, not my norm. Even though I was aware and grateful for the truth of His unchangeableness, my soul hurt. I was grateful that I knew it was time to come home, the Lord was leading and it would be OK. I knew the Lord’s blessing was mine, even if I felt completely otherwise.
It takes time for the heart to catch up to the Spirit at times. Knowing and feeling are two different parts of our being, thus I was glad the in-flight movie was a real tear-jerker. So I could let my soul process through my tears and sobbing without alarming the the crew – too much.
Have you experienced a time when your soul lagged behind? How did you process the change? Please comment below.