That's the term we use for reverse culture-shock when you return home from a different culture. It can be different for everyone. Even those who don't think they experience it might struggle with "Why am I not more affected?". For me, it's been a quiet silence. A heavy stillness like the emptiness in a household after someone has passed. After living two weeks where service is so tangible, it's strange to feel the distance between my actions and the results. It's also somewhat difficult because of the lag between my activities, the dead air time in my life. I think I often hide behind schedules and a general busyness to avoid quiet heartaches.
It's also hard to hear the reoccurring question, "How was Haiti?" and having to, again, say that I didn't get into Haiti. I see the instant distance in their eyes and the assumptions that there was no work to be done in the DR and that our trip was a moot point. Thankfully I have a strong community of friends to lean on in these times. On Tuesday, Vicky and I went to surprise Caitlin for her lunch break. It was much needed and Caitlin said it helped her readjust to life back here in San Diego. (I can't imagine how I'd have handled this if I were re-entering to Boston. Yikes!)
The hardest part is having so much that I want share with certain people close to my heart and hearing them tell me how foolish I was for going. That person who I shower love upon not only can't accept it, but won't accept my genuine desire to extend that love to others. How do people in missions work handle being told that they are searching for purpose in the face of a child countries away? Or that they are week for needing religion as a crutch? The enemy sneaks in and always tears apart that which we hold so dear to leave footprints of doubt in our minds.
My desires to give of myself to COTN and put myself last don't come out of a deep rooted need for purpose (though the purpose in it has truly been a blessing) but because I don't see how I can have ability to help someone and do nothing about it. It was never an option for me to hunker down in my own little hole in Ohio and conclude that the world is evil and none of my concern. Surely the whale would find me.
Music is made to be heard. It would otherwise be silence. The symphony of my life will be arranged with key changes and accidentals and will soar unrestrained to the heavens. I have no desire to limit the sound of my heart and help. If you tell me the choice is between God or you, then I have to admit the choice was made long before I learned the words to voice it.
I am finding that everything in my life is starting to blend together. Experiences are starting to relate to others, sermons speak directly to my life, lessons lead me in group discussions, books are giving me advice for the questions that I find in my sleep, reassurance is given by a passing word from a friend. Matt's words in this weeks newsletter were exceptionally significant: "Have you ever noticed that it's often the people we "love" most that can be the most difficult to love?" "I've found that when love is difficult, it most reflects what love actually is. When we choose the road less traveled, and act in love even when we don't feel like it, things change, which means the world can change. Will you change the world?"
I have been home for less than a week and tomorrow I'm flying off again to Silverdale, WA for our Spring Corporate Conference. It will be nice to have another week of no other obligation than COTN. My venture team is getting together for dinner tonight before the staff fly out tomorrow. It will be great to be together again and just work through our re-entry process (or just to hang out for those who "weren't affected" by re-entry) and plan when we can get together to swap photos of the trip.
Weakness isn't believing in some magical being in the stratosphere, it's the inability to let go of your self-reliance and control to do and go where the God of life and love leads you. Despite what some may think, I truly believe that I am stronger for the decision I have made to follow, give, love, and withstand the criticism.
“It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” -- Philippians 2:13
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” -- Proverbs 16:9
"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -- Matthew 22:37-39