“How is the transition?”
“Are you happy to be back?”
“How have you been?”
All simple questions that I have been asked multiple times lately. Simple questions I have had a difficulty answering.
Yes, I can answer all these questions honestly and simply:
- “The transition started off with a lot of busyness, jet lag, difficult conversations with the kids, and a lot of getting used to a new setting…but we are doing well now.”
- “We are happy to be back, it is great to see friends and family!”
- “We have been well, and have experienced grace beyond measure!”
All these answers are true, but only a piece to the complete context. I tried to explain this to one of my pastors lately, and through difficulty I finally said. “There just isn’t any overlap.”
What I began to explain was that there is simply no “overlap” in my life here in the states and my life in Senegal. In some ways it is as though I am one person living two lives. Yes, we still serve the same God, we still love the church, and we still do many of the same things. But, when someone asks a simple question, sometimes I don’t even know how to answer in a complete way, because the things we have experienced, and the people we have come to love… no one else here has those things in common.
How then do I distill and communicate two years of complex context that to answer simple questions?
We are becoming culturally in-between where we’ve been living and where we come from, while at the same time trying to become more like citizens of where we are going.
It is difficult to communicate why transition was rocky at first, because not every reason is concrete. And yes, we are happy to be back, but there ARE people, places, and cultural differences that we miss. We have been well, but how do I communicate a disorientation I still can’t fully explain? Yes I can tell you that it took me 3 weeks to use my left hand when handing something to someone. I can tell you it took me 5 weeks to wear shorts, what I can not communicate is why doing those things seem to go against who I have become.
I’ve been chewing on this for a little bit and it seems to me we are becoming culturally in-between where we’ve been living and where we come from, while at the same time trying to become more like citizens of where we are going (heaven).
While all of this is still confusing to me, I have found some comfort. As I talked to my pastor, I finally realized that though there may not be much overlap now between my life here and my life in Senegal, there is an overlap coming. Heaven is the overlap. One day in glory I will introduce you to some of your brothers and sisters in West Africa, and Lord willing, those from among the Baynunk. One day, we will physically be citizens of the same place.