Saturday, April 18, 2015

"8 Things I wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Moved Back After Living Overseas"

To all of you who have recently returned after living overseas, you have a special place in my heart because not too long ago, I was walking in your shoes.  So here it is…my letter to those returning from the field to tell you what I wish someone had told me when I first returned.

--"8 Things I wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Moved Back After Living Overseas"--

1)  “I am sorry.”

I am sorry that this next season of your life is going to be a really hard one!  {I could say it in a nicer way…but I don’t think it will help to sugar coat it}.  Maybe not for everyone, but for most people who’ve lived overseas, moving back to their home country is the hardest part of the whole experience {yes, even harder then dealing with the crazy aspects of living in another country}.

I am very sorry that you are finding yourself in this season because it is a hard journey.  Not a journey that many people will understand, and not a journey I would wish on someone {but a journey that I am thankful for…now a few years down the road}

I tell you this because I wish someone had told me that it is normal for the transition to be very hard.  I wasn’t going crazy.  Other people have found moving back to the US after living overseas to be quite a challenge too. 

I am also sorry for the hard things you are bringing back that others may not be saying I’m sorry for.  I want to take a minute to acknowledge some of those things.  You are not alone in this journey even if you feel like it.
  • I am sorry for the grief of leaving all the aspects of your life as it has been.
  • I am sorry for the loneliness you may feel for a while.
  • I am sorry for the days you have to watch your kids sort out the confusion of reentry.
  • I am sorry for the stories you would love to share but don’t get too because few people will sit and listen long enough, or they are stories that might be misunderstood in your new context.
  • I am sorry for the loss of friendships overseas…and the loss again in the states as you realize that old friendships may not return to what they were.
  • I am sorry if you feel like you church or supporters or agency have forgotten about you now that you are no longer living overseas.
  • I am sorry for the days when you feel like you’ve gone from having an amazing job that makes a difference in the world to not knowing what you are supposed to do next.
  • I am sorry if you feel like you are trying to clean up a mess someone else has made in your life.
  • I am sorry for the hard things that may have happened overseas.  The things you aren’t sure how to talk about.  The things you aren’t sure what to make of.  I am sorry for the complicated and painful parts of your story that may not have a perfect ending.
  • I am sorry if you’d really rather not be in the states, but are finding yourself here anyways.
  • I am sorry for the way your emotional and mental health may be affected by reentry.
  • I am sorry for the things you left unfinished and for the part of you that is still in another country.
  • I am sorry if God seems very far away and your faith feels out of whack in this new reality.
  • I am sorry for all the moments of awkwardness and confusing as you sort out your identity.
I am sorry for the hard season you find yourself in, but there is hope.  You may someday wake up and find that this season has had moments you are thankful for.

2)  This season is not forever.

I know it may feel that way, but hang in there.  Give it time.  How much time?  I wish I could tell you.  It’s different for everyone, but it will take longer then you would like it to.  For a long while, I felt like I wasn’t overseas that long so why is this so hard.  So whether you define short as six months or three years, it can take longer than you think it will to feel like you are in a place of thriving and not just surviving.....


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