March 28, 2007
It's the End of the Relocation Honeymoon, Part II
My emotions have been quite close to the surface in the past couple of days. I miss having friends nearby with whom I share a little history. I miss little daily rituals like drinking Dole Orange Peach Mango juice (or even the Joker multifruit juice we had in France - just haven't quite found my daily juice here in England). I miss our church in California.
It has felt really good in the past few days to give room (and courtesy) to my mysterious feelings, to share a few bits of them with new and old friends, by email, blog, Twitter, and face to face. At first I thought I was just in a short "funk" - but I now I think it's going to take a little longer - I've been in denial and now I have to accept that we're not going to be living in a francophone country, that the kids are going to be losing much of their hard-earned French from last year (as a result of no longer being immersed), and that my husband is going to continue working over an hour away in a big city. More posts on food and language differences in US/UK/France will hopefully be forthcoming.
Some various thoughts I've been having:
1. Defensive ones:
a) Yes, I know I'm not living in Kazakhstan (and apologies to those of you who are, whether you like it or not). I speak the language here in England, and many things are very similar to other places I've lived. I'm not even new to the ex-pat way of life. I've lived it exactly half of my life, in three different countries which didn't issue my passport. Also I realize that I have an unending list of things to be thankful for. None of this negates my uncomfortable feelings.
b) You'd think I'd be good at this by now.
c) "It could be worse" is a totally unsuitable comment at this point. Unsuitable because "nothing is wrong." One uses "it could be worse" to describe a bad situation. This isn't a bad situation, it's a good one. More appropriate comments I could make to myself might include:
- Let's make the best of a good situation. This applies to the country, the school, the culture, the people, and church. It's all good - maybe not my ideal, and with its share of challenges and differences, but certainly a far cry from anything that could be labelled bad. There are many wonderful aspects of them all.
- Bloom where you're planted. An oldy but a goody.
2. Random ones:
a) I've been pondering the romanticization of life in movies; the manipulation of moods using sweeping music with long panned shorts of breathtaking landscapes. Movies vs. Real Life. It's quite a contrast.
b) When writing in my prayer journal - did I really connect with God? Like something you might say over a two-way radio: Hello, hello, come in, please...
3. Helpful ones:
a) My kids cheer me up. E.g. Jason showing responsibility by following up on questions and grading issues with his math teacher, or confiding in me about how much it hurt when he got clocked by a basketball to the nose. Emily progressing beautifully in her piano playing, or giving me a hug.
b) I'd like to listen to my feelings and use them, not stuff them or tell them they shouldn't be doing what they are. Feelings can be very useful (contrary to what I used to think). I'd like to explore them, map them, and then maybe kick them a little until they get up. Oops, that doesn't sound like good psychology. Feelings are just feelings - they need to be treated as such - not good or bad, just useful clue-givers as to what needs attention, what is affecting me deeply. Do you know that Michelle Tumes song, Feel? I also found Flood, by Jars of Clay, very apt for me right now.
c) In a recent post, I mentioned some Bible verses which I had been collecting since February or so and decided to share. Martin commented on them, which brought them to mind again, at a needy time. Thank you. I need to expand on them and put them into practice.
Psalm 25:5 - I need to purposely place my hope (all of it) in God repeatedly during the day. And again. I need to throw my arms up towards Him.
Psalm 31:15 - My life, day, year, home, family, husband, kids, soul, feelings, location and activities are in God's hands. I need to rest in that and trust Him with them all (and my feelings about them).
John 7:37 - I need to drink from Jesus' fountain of living water. This takes time and focus and intentionality.
I'll add two more I just read and loved (again), both from Deuteronomy chapter 33:
"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." (v. 12)
"The Eternal God is your Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (v. 27)
Recent advice from an experienced new friend here when I spilled my "end of honeymoon" feelings:
- Take a walk with a friend or grab someone for a chat
- pamper yourself
- it's cyclical: this will pass, and it'll come again later...
I, like Amanda Witt, loved this quote:
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."
--Philo of Alexandria
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I have been continuously amazed by the grace with which you and your family have navigated the past few years of tremendous change. You're an inspiration!
In contrast my wife's and my life here in Issaquah looks downright boring. We've lived in the same town and I've worked in the same job for 14 years!
I wonder if any of what you're feeling is withdrawals from the unrelieved foreignness and constant change of the past few years.
Posted by: jeffy | Mar 29, 2007 12:27:43 AM
Remember, oh I can't remember the address, I think it's in John, anyway it goes:
Do not become weary in doing good, for in due season you will reep.
It is a weary, though joyous journey, but God will comfort you. And, of course, all your blogging buddies are living vicariously through you. We just love hearing about your traveling abroad, and enjoy hearing about your children too.
To all things there is a season, and perhaps a season will (soon) come when you do not have to be away from home.
Posted by: Leah Jones | Mar 29, 2007 5:34:10 AM
You know I can relate to your feelings in many ways and I appreciate your honesty in sharing here. I've had these feeling before and they do pass, but yes, they also return. I'm almost nervous about going back home to visit this summer because I know I will wish I was living there again. But at the same time, I've made some good friends here, we love our church so much, as well as our house. There are positives about every place we've lived and I try to focus on them, while relying on God. We've got to be FROGS-Fully Rely On God.
Posted by: Melene | Mar 29, 2007 7:43:37 PM
When I moved to the States, it was *hard*. At first everything was so new and I was so busy that the changes didn't really sink in that much. It wasn't until we were good and settled in in our place that I started to miss things - little things like decent bread, and Quark, and rain, and sidewalk cafes, as well as bigger ones...
I've never liked moving long distance, because it seems like it takes me at least two years or so to feel like I am starting to belong in a place...
Posted by: Birgit | Apr 2, 2007 9:11:33 PM