29 July, 2014

Forever Changed

Recently on Facebook I saw a link to this article about how living overseas forever changes you. It isn't written from a Christian mission perspective (i.e. that we are doing what we do overseas because we believe God has called us to do that). Nevertheless, it has some great points that people who look at our lives from a home base of Australia might miss. 
In many ways CAJ is our boys' "home", the place they
feel most comfortable in outside of the house we're
living in. It's also the place they feel homesick for when
we're away. They don't feel homesick for Australia (al-
though they do miss some things about Australia).

Here are some ideas in the article that struck me particularly strongly:

  • Adrenaline becomes a part of your life.
    • It's true. Always facing big changes, new people and places, stimulates a surge of adrenaline.
  • Addictive.
    • This goes with the previous one. You get somewhat addicted to the adrenaline. Always looking to the "next thing", the next move, the next big change, etc. But also the challenge of surviving in a place where you don't entirely fit. There is an addictiveness to that.

  • Courage is overrated.
    • So often people say, "I couldn't do what you do." Sometimes the pop on the end, "You're so courageous." Most missionaries would beg to differ on this final point. The truth is that we've been called to do this, but also enabled. God provides all we need and only calls us because this is something he's prepared for us to do. Yes, it takes some courage to step out, but you soon realise that God is under you, holding you, and He's gone before you, preparing the way ahead.
  • Holding your tongue because your don't want to overwhelm others.
    • I'm facing this a lot at present, particularly in a group situation. Joining in a group conversation that isn't about me (sounds terrible, doesn't it?) is an exercise in holding my tongue at the moment. It's so easy to dominate a conversation with stories from my life overseas, but it's not particularly others-focused. Different if they're asking me about it, of course, but I can't allow myself to dominate. People soon lose interest, anyway, if I do this.
  • Home is more about memories and people than things that are replaceable.
    • Indeed. We're having more and more difficulty defining "home". The boys are definitely calling Japan home. But it's complicated, I tend to avoid the word, except as referring to the house I'm living in. We moved "back to Australia", not "home" last month.
    • As we move around (and we haven't actually moved as much as many have), we tend to realise that people and memories are far more important than things we can buy. This comes from living in a small, rented house on a missionary budget too. We throw things out faster than many who have larger houses that they've lived in for many years.
  • Asking for help is inevitable, and not so abhorrent.
    • You learn to cope with being more dependent and asking for help. Living in a culture where you aren't a native speaker and the culture is so very different from your own means to get along you need to relax in your independent spirit and ask for help.
  • Normal, what's normal?
    • Not much, in the end. 
And most of all: 
  • Changed irreversibly.
Does any of this make sense? Does it help you make some sense of our lives?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This resonates with our experience of the peripatetic life of a military family even though we have mostly stayed in Australia.

"Home is about memories and people..." - it becomes a challenge to maintain a 'museum of memories' to which all members of the family can relate, and to maintain important relationships, when moving around. I have several children for whom their "things" provide their sense of continuity, which makes decluttering more difficult!

Love, Anna