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Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Mirage of a TCK's Homes

I'm homesick. I thought that only came the first week or two, or maybe in the first month. Surely not now, after I have settled into life and its routine, have friends, memories already placed in pockets of time.

The other day while we were huffing and puffing our way up the hill, I breathed in deep and I smelled yesterday. I knew sensory memories are the strongest but for me, it has always been attached to smell. If I smell, I am there. It was simple, just something evocative of summer, but I was startled because I thought that smell was attached to a different country.

Then yesterday I breathed in deep and I remembered California. That startled me even more. I hadn't planned to miss that home. All the others, yes, I'd grieved those countless times over to the point that I carried my grief as an identity, always ready to lash out at those who didn't understand even while I struggled to put words to my experience that went much deeper than pain. But this home? The one I'd refused to add to my identity intellectually, even as I wore flag t-shirts with blue jeans and sandals, sang I'm proud to be an American while the missing man formation flew overhead at the state airshow, perfected the slur of accent, and fooled best friends into thinking I was one of them. I was the ultimate banana of TCKs. Yet all the time, I wanted to go home. The other homes.

This has been my battle for the past years. What is my identity? Friends choose to settle into life, raising children, earning enough for a comfortable life, going on short-term mission trips, and giving generously to the work when appeals are given. Then there are friends who've sold anything that can tie them down, packed up their lives into two suitcases each, and taken the next flight to a remote life filled with inconveniences, counting it all worth it to share Jesus with those who've never heard of Him. They have no plan for the future because they are preparing to die where they now serve. And then there's me. Stuck in the middle.

I am not ready to go to a remote country. I don't know how to, I don't have a calling, I don't have skills. I've always felt a desire to help, though, which is my struggle. I want to settle down, have the 2 kids and a house, the stability of knowing life won't change abruptly. The past 17 years were in one physical place but it wasn't until 5 years ago that I had some reassurance that I wouldn't have to uproot my life without notice to battle it out in yet another foreign land.

And now I'm here. In a remote country, without a president, far from family, frustrated because of how life has to move us on and the ones I hold dearest are too far for me to touch and sit close to. I miss them. I miss home. Not the one I sought by coming here. Here I am content but there are no longer living memories. The ones from years past are slowly fading into an obscure haze and I know now I don't need to go back in time to find me. Who I am today has been shaped by who I was then but it is now becoming shaped by my choices instead of passively letting life happen without a choice.

I had a dream once. 17 years ago, I dreamt of returning home, laughing and living the adventurous life with those I loved. I'd had a full life and I spent 17 years dreaming of that life to be restored. Then I returned. My dream has slowly dissipated as I realize that growing up means life changes and so do we. My dream now? It's to find my place of identity. It may be with a person, in a ministry, or a country. I hope it is through connection because that is where I thrive.

Today the tears are close without mercy. If I can manage to smile through them til tomorrow, perhaps it will get easier. I've made it through two months now. Yes, the future after the next 10 months is uncertain and that worries me. But for now, I can only handle learning to trust that God understands my sad heart and is reaching out to hold me, even though I can't feel Him.

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