To be honest, this term has been a stickler. The loss of two grandparents, a new baby, a move to a rural and isolating place on top of visa issues, wifehood, homeschooling and just being a Mom of 5 little ones… I’m a tad tired and ready for central a/c, a dishwasher and Chick-Fil-A. None of my bags are packed yet, but I feel that I have already been mentally packing gripping tightly to a fast-track ticket out of this place. I mean I am content here…and I have no desire to live anywhere else (most days) but the closer I get to home assignment the more the culture and life here weighs me down. Things that I would never bat my eye at are starting to get on my nerves, I want to yell “Stop it!” in my best Bob Newhart impression to every person who pinches my baby’s cheek. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about please do yourself a favor and watch this.)
Expats who count their life in 3 year terms have a great advantage when it comes to refocusing and restarts. But also with the advantages comes disadvantages. Every few years we have has this crazy shift…usually geographical, where we land in in our passport country for a few months living a completely different life. We live on both sides of the fence and the grass is ALWAYS greener on the side your feet aren’t momentarily planted. As the time to make the short trip across the pond get closer, I find myself floating above both places really not firmly planted in either our passport country or our host country. Our work is in our host country but we are preparing a schedule, a home and work assignments in a completely different country. It can be headsplitting and heart-splitting.
I want to finish well here and even though our ONLY plan is to come back, life happens. People here will move or pass away. Country political temperatures shift and sometimes coming back isn’t possible. Our international lives are fluid. We make plans but we all know, plans often are delayed, shift or completely fall apart. I want to prepare my heart and the heart of my family for the “what ifs” without causing undue stress and anxiety.
So, how do I stay focused on being here while I am planning to be there? I’m clueless. I hope you weren’t reading this post to find an answer. Cause I am fresh out of them. But I did manage to glean some ideas from the wisdom of friends who have “been there done that” more than me. I have decided to make a list and implement a few things over the next few months that will help me stay focused and centered. Maybe making your own list will help you prepare your heart as you prepare for an upcoming move.
- Instead of doing a countdown on how many days until I leave, I am going to do a countdown of things I will miss in my host country. There is so much to miss during this temporary leave of absence.
- I’m going to visit friends and be intentional in our conversations.
- I’m going to take my kids to the beach for the day, for a swim in the river and allow them to have one more Asian pizza experience before it is totally ruined by the real stuff in America.
- I’m going to watch the sunsets in the evenings. Because island sunsets are spectacular and our balcony has the best view.
- I’m going to wake early and smile at the kids as they walk past our home on their way to school.
- I’m going to let my helper know how much I appreciate her and how thankful I have been for her hard work over the past year. Her work has kept my family from drowning in a sea of laundry.
- I am going to meditate on Hebrews 13:14; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20.
- I am going to be thankful for the rich, experience filled, and God initiated life abroad.
My main problem comes when I get off focus and become task driven. Pack this, organize that, schedule this. When I get my eyes off of the Master of the tasks and onto the task, I lose heart. Counting my blessings one by one and leading my family out in this won’t get me focused on the work here, but it will focus me on Him. And I think that is the point, ya?
“My home is in heaven.
I’m just traveling through this world.”
– Billy Graham
What about you? What wisdom do you have for someone who is heading home for a short season? Have you learned something on this bumpy international road you could share?