Here are some thoughts I penned a few weeks back but am just now getting around to posting:
I never guessed that life could become so complex. I was unprepared for our first trip back to the USA, and I still feel like I’m in a very strange world where things to don’t quite make sense. For starters, my child is going through culture shock. He still asks to go back to our home. Payton and I, on the other hand, are going through reverse culture shock. Finn is finally adjusting and soon we will be heading someplace new. It makes for quite the cocktail of emotions.
The newness of each circumstance seems to be unending. The time will change, the seasons are changing, the climate is changing, so is the church, the house, the people, the toys, and most of the common ground. I guess for Finn, mom and dad, his tent bed, and the grocery stores will mostly look the same, but that’s about it. As a mom, I don’t really know how to make any of these transitions any easier. I’m still learning and gleaning wisdom from others along the way. Reflecting on the past month, I’m praising God for the outpouring of encouragement from folks along the way through conversation, prayer, and hospitality. For example, I need to hear things from dads and moms of intense little boys to remind me that the struggle is real, but for the most part, everyone survives and the consistent discipline will bear fruit. So many people are just willing to love us in all of our brokenness and confusion!
For Payton and I, it was just us before and now we’ve reentered a previously familiar world, except that we are totally different people now, especially now that we are parents. We can’t really pull off 12 hour road trips. Meeting up with people isn’t straightforward. Even managing to have a meaningful conversation is hard with a three year old around. It feels like we started life over and have to relearn all sorts of things.
A good friend told me that in some ways, being back in our old city in Sulawesi was kind of easy because there really were only two types of cheese, not hundreds like there are here. There were less choices, which is confining sometimes, but also easier in a way. It’s so true. I find myself resorting to rice, sweet potatoes, and curry because it works and seems easy.
Payton also reminded me that this is what we signed up for, even if we didn’t know it at the time. I thought I signed up to live interior and learn a few languages while fending off mosquitoes, but those would just be the most straightforward things. I’m sure someone told us along the way, but it’s hard to internalize some kinds of advice until you’ve walked through it for yourself. With home assignment in particular, we didn’t realize how many appointments we’d be arranging: There was the dentist. Follow up at the dentist. Vaccines for big people. Vaccines for the little one. Regular doctors. Specialty doctors. And trying to patch up all of the holes while medicine is within easy reach. Overseas you just pay out of pocket. Here, there’s this whole insurance thing we have to figure out! Payton has been wading through insurance, retirement, taxes, investments, and the list goes on.
We’re shopping for clothes from scratch too. None of us remember what a four season wardrobe consists of. Like, I’ve forgotten about socks and what clothes you actually need for winter anymore. I’ve lived in flip-flops for the better part of three years. I still take a jacket everywhere now because I’m cold if there’s an AC on—so is Finn. I also have a deep fear that if I manage to adjust to winter temps, we will never be able to go back to the sweltering heat I remember in Taliabo!
I’m glad there are people praying for us. I have seen the difference in Finn especially as people have been praying. Keep praying! Satan would have us discouraged, distracted, and discontent. We know that there is more than enough grace from the throne of God for each and every one of these circumstances. And if all of these transitions bring us to understand that we are indeed merely sojourners on the planet, then it is worth it—even if my desire for putting down roots screams that it’s not worth it.
So, it’s layers upon layers of emotions, details, expectations, and preparation. And to add one more layer, part of ourselves are back overseas. We’re mentally wrapping our minds around the transitions that are ahead. Payton is constantly in communication with people to try to keep things moving on our house-building project deep interior. I have a lot of apprehensions to returning. I can feel my language slipping. Finn will probably lose all of his language—plus he refuses to speak it here at all. When we do return to Asia Pacific, we will live in transition with no particular home or even home city until our visas are processed and our house interior is roughly livable. It seems like a very unstable situation to jump into after a very intense period of constant transitions in the US.
One thought that I’ve been trying to implement is really being where I am. I deleted my news apps. I’m trying to cut down on Facebook scrolling. It really isn’t helpful to try to be in 4 or more places at once. I can’t be “all there” in Michigan, Colorado, California, and Asia Pacific. It’s not healthy. Another dimension to this is that so much of what we’re doing is planning. With house building, for the most part, we’re planning for a hypothetical situation in the future (lots of variables) and planning while not actually in the country. This is a less than ideal way to do things for sure. Plus, it adds stress because neither of us can predict all of the possibilities! But, we know that this is the path that was laid out for us. There really wasn’t another way to do this because of the need for things to happen during the dry season. So, we are having to find ways to approach planning with the vague framework of a timeline and not letting it overload our minds. We like to have at least a semblance of control, but this barely allows for that. It’s quite the wrestling match.
We know for certain that God is good and this is what he has planned for us. Pray that we would remind ourselves of how we fit into His Narrative as we walk through all of these new experiences.