Dear American Christian

Posted on: January 12, 2016 Written by and
Dear American Christian
Photography by: iprogressman from iStock          

 

Dear American Christian,

How thankful I am to be seated on the pew next to you again. You may not realize it, but I have been away—living overseas for the past several years. My absence from you had nothing to do with lack of love; in fact, I missed you and thought of you often.

We grew up together, you and I. We sang the same hymns and prayed the same prayers. We heard the same sermons and even went to camp together. You challenged me, encouraged me, laughed with me, and cried with me. I appreciate you from the depths of my heart.

On the outside, I still look a lot like you. My hair is like yours, my skin is like yours, and I even bought a new outfit to make sure that I would still be in style like you. On the inside however, something has changed. I find myself struggling with new thoughts and beliefs, especially now that we are back together again. Can I share a little of my heart with you?]

I feel awkward. I have a hard time keeping my shoes on now when I enter your home. It is not just how clean your carpet looks. It is how dirty I know the bottoms of my shoes are. I have seen the spit, the garbage, and the urine on our world’s sidewalks, and some of it must still be on my soles. Will you forgive my urge to kick off my shoes when I step into your entry?

I feel ridiculous. I still want to wash out my used Ziploc baggies and save bounce sheets for special occasions. You see, I suitcased these with me to Asia, and I cannot seem to shake this twenty-year habit. If you see a shabby plastic bag drying somewhere in my kitchen, will you smile and at least pretend to understand?

I feel lost. I cannot wear the “God bless America” t-shirt you gave me. Somehow doing so makes me feel that I am excluding my friends in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. I truly want each of them to know God’s abundant blessings as well. I realize that exclusion is not the intent of the slogan, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable.

I feel overwhelmed. I am out of place at the Christian bookstore. There are so many choices, and many seem more fluff than enough. The Word of God was all I had for so long that now He is truly all that I need. So many versions of the Bible fill our shelves, but so few are actually being accessed. The Living Word in our hearts needs more time with the written Word on our laps. Why has this just become the responsibility of the clergy?

I feel foreign. For the past four years, our Sunday morning worship has been from a living room—singing songs to YouTube videos and watching podcast sermons. Standing here next to you in a large room full of hundreds of people feels unfamiliar to me. Right now, though, my soul is craving to just blend in, so I would never say that to you.

I feel confused. My kids talk about returning home a lot—they complain about American food and the American pace of life. I have returned home, but they have not, so I am having trouble identifying with my own children who miss their home, while I think I am currently at home.

I feel strange. Yet somehow I do understand. When I left the United States, I left much of my extended family behind. Now, having returned to the United States, I have left my other family/home. These other individuals have become my additional family members. I want to connect with you and make new relationships with you, but my heart has been through so many goodbyes in the last several years that it is difficult to put my heart out there again enough to get close to others. Thank you for your patience with me!

Yes, I have returned to your pew, but I am not the same girl you knew. We still need one another, you and I. This time, maybe it is for our diversity and not for our conformity. I desire to know you and share my heart with you, but I am warning you, I have changed. Who knows? Maybe you have, too. Let us be the body of Christ together, you and I. What do you say?

 

With great love and affection,

Your Transitioning Global Worker

 

Question to consider: Share YOUR heart with us. What things would you add?

 

©2016 Thrive.



About the author

An author, speaker and humorist, Kandy is passionate about helping people connect the Living Word within them to the written Word in their laps. After twenty years overseas, she has compiled her own journey in the Word into the book, "Hungry For More: Feasting through the Word". She also has selections in both of the Beth Moore "Voices of the Faithful" books. In between trips to visit her six grandchildren, Kandy loves meeting others that truly hungry for Him.

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Author's Website: http://hungryformore.org

About the author

Kate is a global worker in East Asia.

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  • Alice

    So much of this I still feel! Thanks for speaking for me! If only they knew how life will never be the same. Our hearts will never be in one place again.
    Thank you!

    • You are a beacon dear, Alice. May your light continue to shine in a way that focuses on Him (Matthew 5:16).

  • Bes

    Wow, so true. I wish they could understand even a little bit.

    • Maybe we can’t know what we haven’t experienced. Blessings, dear Bes.

  • Penny

    Feeling foreign, You talk of tv shows that I have never seen.
    I feel out of place: Please understand I may not share the politics that you do, I see the impact of well intentioned policies on the developing world.
    I feel alone. You tell me all about yourself, your children, your trips yet you never get around to asking about mine or about what God has been teaching me.

    • Maybe this is a part of our responsibility of turning the other cheek, huh, Penny?

  • Esther

    EXCELLENT!!!! Thanks Penny for your words also. A transitioning sister

  • Stephanie

    So good and true! I feel this way every time on home assignment. I can only imagine what it will be like if/when we go back to the States for good.

    • I wish someone had told me to begin praying about that day even while still on assignment. It takes just as much heart preparation as it did to leave the first time….maybe even more. Blessings, Stephanie.

  • Susan

    I am that sister in the pew just returned right now and it is often a lonely place. I was walking our dog in the neighborhood last evening and I felt so very lonely, longing for the security of our African friends and community, the familiarity and warmth there. Your words ring so very true, Kandy (and Penny too). My family and I have been called back to work at ‘home’ where we don’t have friends and family close by. It is starting new all over again but this time in what most assume should ‘feel like ‘home”. And this is the 4th time I’ve made this type of transition in my lifetime, yet still I struggle. Thankfully I know that we will find joy and fulfillment along the way, that Jesus is right here with us, that He will bless us with people to love and who will love us, here in this ‘new home’. I wonder how Jesus felt coming here to earth, how strange it must have felt at times, how He longed to be close to His heavenly Father. He truly does understand!

    • Thanks for sharing your heart Susan. This is definitely a struggle — you realize it all too well and are still seeking to find your strength in Him alone. I believe in you….

  • Misty

    You know, this is not just true of those who are on the field a long time. I feel that way and I only go for short trips at a time to help out a missionary friend. But it has changed everything about me, and it’s hard to come back to the same life with different eyes and a different heart. I don’t want to talk about politicians and Disney World and the news and which way of doing school is better (public, private, at home), or all the things we fear for our overindulged country, and our safe & comfortable lives. I want our kids to know it’s not like this everywhere–this clean and vast, or with this false sense of security. I want to talk about how it’s possible we can have so much and we just keep trying to hold onto it when God means us to let it go and share it. About how we shut each other out when God tells us to let each other in. About why this is so much easier to do in a foreign country among those who have so little than here where we have everything.