Posted in cross-cultural, The Grove Velvet Ashes

Spelling Out Re-Entry

I’ve done re-entry a few times. Sometimes better, other times not so well. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

R  First off, Re-entry is such a misnomer! There is nothing “re-“ in it! OK, geographically you might be going back to the place you hail from. Fair enough. That’s the extent of “re-“, though! You are not going backwards! You are moving forwards, into the next phase of your journey. You are also definitely not going back to a familiar place! Depending on how long you were away for, it might still look familiar. But it has changed. And you have changed. That’s a whole lot of change! So…

 

E Entry“ – that’s more like it! You are entering a new place. Treat it as such! Remember when you first went overseas? How things were exciting and stressful and fun and there was so much to learn? It’s so much harder having that learner’s attitude when you’re supposedly going “home” but do your best! And have fun exploring!

 

E  So much Emotion. And yes, I do realise I shouldn’t be spelling it with a capital letter. But in reality, it desperately needs that capital letter! Chances are, as with any transition, your emotions will be all over the place. That’s ok. Allow yourself to feel them. Also know not to take them too seriously. This phase will pass and things will look different. These emotions are part of the ride. Feeling them is not wrong at all but they are not the whole story either.

 

N Did you stick out like a sore thumb in your host country? Did you often wish you could just blend in? Well, now you do blend in and instead of helping, it makes things harder. You are a hiddeN immigrant. You look like a local, sound like a local, maybe even act like a local. But on the inside, you’re different. Sure, that local part of you is real. But so much more has been added to the mix. So much that people around you can’t see and don’t know about. In many ways, sticking out was a gift. No one expected you to know and understand everything. Not so here. Most people will not understand that you are not able to just slot back in. You’re a hidden immigrant.

 

T Time does not make everything better. We all know that. But when it comes to re-entry (or any transition) it does help. You don’t stop missing places, people, your life in that other place. You do, though, add new memories, new relationships, new skills, new experiences. Your life again becomes what it is – a part of the larger whole that is your life. Always there but no longer dominating everything and blinding you to the beauty of the here and now.

 

R How do you think about re-entry? What is your gut reaction to the word? Reframing my thinking changed so much for me! Instead of feeling like I was going backwards, I decided I would think of this stage as a new season of a TV show. There are familiar characters, familiar story lines, that carry over. There are also surprises, new characters, unexpected developments. Whatever happens, things always move forward. There are developments we love but we might not be totally happy with everything that transpires.. Either way, it’s all part of the same story, always moving forward, with surprises just around the corner. For more on this, check out Small Planet Studio https://smallplanetstudio.com/

 

Y Find Your tribe! Connect with people who get it! On the ground, online. There are communities you can join, and wherever you are in the world, I would bet there are people around who understand. They might not be people you knew before but now you connect. I’m not saying avoid the hard work of (re-)connecting with people who don’t get it but it is so good for the soul to connect with people who do. Find those who are also walking this re-entry road, and those who have gone before.

 

And a bonus one, just because I can! A big fat G for GRACE! So much grace for yourself and for those around you who don’t get why it’s hard!

This post has been linked to Velvet Ashes, an encouraging site for women serving cross-culturally.

Photo by Killian Pham on Unsplash

 

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Posted in cross-cultural

5 Lessons I’ve Learned From Connection Groups

again-and-again

A few days ago, I was over at Velvet Ashes, talking about the beauty and blessing of connection, and particularly their Connection Groups.

When I returned to my passport country after 16 years overseas, I knew it probably wouldn’t be plain sailing. I thought I was prepared for that. After all, I’d read books about re-entry, been to seminars – even taught about it and walked through it with other people! I should have been good at this re-entry thing. Well, here I was, four years in, and things weren’t going the way I had expected. True, there was much I loved about my new place and life. Yet thinking about what I’d left behind was still oh-so-painful. It was messy, and I was tired.

Read more here

Posted in Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, But Not Forgotten

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Gone, but not forgotten.  Only ruins remain of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire (UK) but even the ruins speak of lives once lived there.  And those daffodils of spring?  Long gone.  But not forgotten, and in time, they will come to life again.

To me, these “oh so English” pictures also speak of wonderful years living in that country.  Those days are gone and have been replaced by a new life in a new/old country, but they are definitely not forgotten!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Posted in Uncategorized

Flying Alone

heathrow goodbye

Heathrow Terminal 5.  One last look around WH Smith.  Anything I’ve forgotten to buy?  What can I not get back in Berlin?  Cadbury’s Dairy Milk are on special.  Definitely need to get some of those!

And then on to the gate, waiting to return to my other life. A week of wonderful times with friends, of visiting old haunts, of reliving my old life, comes to an end.  Another world awaits me.

Flying alone can be hard.  And boring, but that’s not the point.  It’s more the sense of completely leaving behind a very special week, because no one can share those memories with me.  This is how someone else expressed this dynamic:

  One friend wrote that the hardest part for her is flying alone. Not because I don’t have the ability or because I’m afraid, but because it highlights the fact that no matter where I go, there is no person that is consistent in my life. Sitting at an airport gate by yourself can be lonely for anyone. However, I agree with my friend. When you’re a single missionary, it’s a deeper loneliness than simply not having someone to chat with while you wait for your flight. It’s the knowledge that you are leaving one “home” for your other “home,” and no one is making this transition with you. Your two “lives” are consistent, but you are the only one who lives them both.

(http://continualtransition.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/our-perspective-returning-to-north-america/)

Today, I am feeling this a lot.

Posted in Uncategorized

Large chunks of my heart…

In the months before I left the ME, people kept urging me to disengage and transition back. And I made a conscious decision to “be all there, wherever I was.” And I don’t regret that at all—I’d do it again. What I do regret was that I failed to apply that rule when I started over in the States. I’m being taught to “be all here”even while large chunks of my heart are in another world, with another people. I think it’s a most excellent problem to have—the challenge to balance yourself, your interests, your relationships, your conversations, your love. I’m here for “such a time as this”—to engage with those who are right before me. This is a reality, too, and this American life is worthy of my full attention and energy, especially when I firmly believe that our Father is forever sustaining us, preparing us and directing our steps.

Large chunks of MY heart will forever be in the crazy country that comes up with things like this:

Can’t stand Marmite (or even Ma’amite) but love love love the humour!

Yup, never again will my heart be all in one place.  At times, I feel a huge need to cling on to “that place”.  To make my apartment a shrine filled with Union Jacks.  To listen to the BBC 24/7.  To not be all here, in this place and this life.  To not allow new treasures to be added to (and mixed in with) the ones from across the channel.  Most people won’t understand.  How could they (after all, there are many things about their lives I will never understand either).  But there are some who do and for those I am deeply thankful.

I long to arrive at the place where I am able to

engage in both worlds with a beautiful balance.

(Quotes are from the blog post “Back to Amreeka: They Don’t Know… “.  Click here to read the whole thing.)