So after the countdown and all the packing, we finally arrived back in the land of milk and honey. It’s definitely a bigger transition than I thought it would be and I’m trying to figure out why. There’s the obvious choice, jet lag. The 7 hour time change added to the 19 hours of travel across the ocean with 3 small children could definitely be to blame for that sense of confusion that immediately took over. But as a mom of three small children, I am somewhat used to that feeling, and this one is a bit different. Then I thought maybe it could be that general sense of disappointment that comes after your idealization of something doesn’t match reality. But after talking with Josh and discovering that he is also having many of the same thoughts and feelings, I think it must be something a bit different. For those of you who know Josh, you understand why my conclusion would change after learning this. Target, Dunkin Donuts, and frozen food don’t produce quite the intense yearning in his heart that they do in mine. So even though I have tasted their fruit and it was in fact good, the feeling still persists.
I think in the end some of it can be chalked up to the common experience of “culture shock.” There’s definitely the weirdness that you can be in one part of the world speaking a language with a certain people group in a certain cultural environment and in a matter of a few hours you’re in a totally different one. But I think what really makes it feel the most weird is that in our memories, life stands still. We remember a certain period of life, the friendships, the locations, the stage of our lives. And when we leave, we take it all with us in our minds. But what happens to all of those people and places after we set out for something new? It all moves on without us. Yet simultaneously, we move on as well.
When we return later, our place is gone. No one waited for us to move on. And after we all exclaim how they’ve changed and we’ve changed and the area has changed, it gets a bit silent. Everyone slowly comes to the understanding that someone is in the wrong place.
We all like the memories, miss those days, but the beautiful part is that the present is something just as meaningful, just a bit more unfamiliar. It holds new friendships, new experiences and new hardships. And it doesn’t have the added advantage of selective memory. It’s all fresh and uncharted.
No matter who left and who stayed, who’s new and who’s old, everything and everybody is changing. And what makes me fit or not fit, is me now. Who am I now? What does God want me to be doing now and who does he want me to be doing that with? If I know that, bring on America! At least for 3 months.