It turns out that space travel is a perfect metaphor for living in another country. (Though you may feel more like the alien than the astronaut). You adjust to giving up control, eat strange food and do daily tasks in new and awkward ways. Even common routines like using the bathroom require adjustments. But adjust you must if you want to thrive in this new atmosphere.
Suddenly being weightless is your new normal. But soon, whether it was scheduled or an emergency landing, your term is up and you are braving the dangers of re-entry to a planet that is no longer home.
So why don't you feel grounded now that you have gravity?
These are a couple journal entries written after I returned to America from spending five years in China. They are a glimpse into how disoriented I still felt even nine months after my initial re-entry.
April 9, 2011
"I feel like I was driving at full speed in one direction and the Lord yanked the wheel and u-turned me back the other way. It's hard to adjust when you had one destination in mind all along and suddenly the Lord brings you back to the point of origin--only five years have elapsed since you left.
Lord, please show me how to pour myself out for you here and now. I still feel awkward at church and around new people because I'm not quite sure of who I am anymore and struggle to relate. Help me, Lord. I give you my pride, negativity, sense of guilt, heaviness and apathy. Revive my spirit, Lord. Remind me who I am in You."
April 27, 2011
"Upset, though I'm not sure of the exact cause--just feeling groundless, weightless, homeless...unsure of the future and of my role or purpose in the present. Confused. Not just lost, but lost without a map, lost without a compass. Unsure of my footing. Not fear of going the wrong direction, but the existential fear that all this traveling will bring me no where. That it is all futile. Trying to hold on to the promises of Psalm 16: 8-11. Trying to be in His presence."
"I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither will you allow your Holy One to undergo decay.
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
Over four years after writing this--even including two job changes, a cross-country move and the addition of two children--I can say that the Lord has not allowed me to be shaken. When my house is built on Him as my rock instead of on the sand of my idols, I can dwell securely. Though I still struggle with my foothold at times, He has helped me to reorient back to this country, though I struggle day by day to stay firmly planted on Him first, and on people and places second.
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This post is day 22 of the series "Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock," a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:
Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected...
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You're Not the Only One Who's Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My "Call"
Day 17: Is Missions a "Higher Calling"?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)--a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)
Labels: 31 days (2015), China, identity, Missions, re-entry, reverse culture shock, Spiritual Lessons