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?