Last week while sitting at Starbucks unsuccessfully trying to connect to their internet, a thought came to me, “Is it time to go home?”
It had been a particularly stressful day that started with heading to the airport at 6:20 am for a “quick” turn around trip to immigration on another island. After explosive diarrhea from my 1-year-old (an unexplained issue we have been having with him for months) all over my husband’s lap…twice, a mistake by immigration that kept me and our 3-year-old from extending our visa in a timely manner, I was trying to book a hotel for my family of eight for the night. This probably wasn’t the time to be answering a question that involves a cross-the-world move and demanding life changes, but still, the thought that sometimes quietly lingers in the back of my mind was banging around my skull at a frightening speed.
But who am I kidding? This year, not just this day, has been particularly challenging. Sickness has riddled my family like no other, visa issues, house issues, organizational changes that involved ¼ of our friends/family/co-workers going home. Not to mention our own personal struggles with sin, discipline, and selfishness. I am also more and more convinced that this life abroad is not a great fit for large families. Our rhythms that require super-sized flexibility and the need for extra large everything burdens both foreigners and locals alike. I yearn for “normal” patterns, 12 passenger vans, and for anything that remotely makes sense to my western brain.
“Is it time to go home?” is a thought that I would like to think we all have wrestled with from time to time. I have come far from the early days where I wished for a strange tropical disease that would only be cured in America, therefore allowing me to go home but not be considered a quitter. But other questions still pop up. Is this worth it? Are we making a difference? Why does everything have to be so hard?
My wise beyond belief two-decade friend was visiting from the States this week and she brought to my attention that we are in our eighth year. The year after the average “career” folks go home (as I have heard over the years from various sources). We aren’t newbies anymore and the newness of the work and the excitement of life abroad has long worn off. This is just life and sometimes the challenges of life overseas outweigh the benefits. But I can’t just phone it in. Or can I?
I wanted a litmus test for my life, so I came up with a few healthy questions to help me navigate the emotion of an exceptionally hard year. I am self-aware enough to know that I have an aversion to difficult things and often feel like quitting is the answer. Questions are good, but the wrong questions that usually start with “why” and end in self-pity can be debilitating. And because I believe honesty is the best policy, a few of these questions make me squirm just thinking about them. But the truth shall set me free and in the long run, processing is always better than stuffing.
(Hopefully, they can help you if you find yourself in a difficult season…or more likely, when you find yourself in a difficult season.)
Do I believe in the vision/direction of my work?
Do I believe in the vision/direction of my company?
Is there a consistent pattern of my company that goes against my convictions?
Is there an organization or different avenue for living overseas that is a better fit?
Do I need a nap?
When was my last vacation?
Am I financially stressed?
What family stresses are in my life right now that may be affecting a clear head?
Am I giving enough attention to my marriage?
Do I have emotional, spiritual and physical support for my family?
Have we been sick?
Is there unconfessed sin in my life?
Is there anything/anyone I need to lovingly confront?
Are conflicts being solved in a healthy manner?
Are the issues that I am having only temporary?
Is the Lord calling me to something different?
And for me as a believer, the No. 1 questions I have to answer: Has God told me to “go?”
As I look at the answers to my questions I am (mostly) convinced I need to stay where I am. There are things that really need to change in our lives and maybe in the lives of others, but I am confident that we are moving in a forward direction that leads to healing, wholeness and better productivity that will lead us to concentrate our efforts on the things that matter and not all the other stuff that bogs us down. Until everything is perfect (that won’t happen until heaven, right?), I am calling down some ‘holy grit’ from heaven. Things may get bumpier before they get better, but who knows, there may be a fantastic season right around the corner if I choose to stay the course.
How about you? Are you navigating a particularly difficult season? What if you answered these questions and the answer is “go”? What does that look like for you?
Latest posts by Denise James (see all)
- Is It Time to Go Home? (And How Do I Know?) - December 5, 2016
- This Global Life | Day 31: Indonesia - October 31, 2016
- Helping TCKs Navigate Sticky Situations of Cross-Cultural Living - August 11, 2016
- 27 Observances from Our Public School Experience (Through the Eyes of an Expat) - June 23, 2016
- 5 Ways I Want My TCKs to Be Brave - May 20, 2016