Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sometimes We Get Lonely

One thing I have noticed about returning to the US for an extended period of time is how incredibly lonely it is. I'm teaching full-time at the moment, visiting partner churches on weekends, and have spent more time with family than in the past four years combined, so the loneliness is not from lack of people. Rather, the loneliness is much like what many expats feel when they first move overseas. People everywhere, but an astounding lack of people who get us.

I haven't lived in the USA for twelve years. This is the longest stretch I have gone during this time without leaving the nation's borders. I'm the girl armed with the passport and visa (and I don't mean the credit card kind), who has no problem navigating airports and foreign public transit systems, is an expert at packing a suitcase, and has a thirst for adventure. I'm a missionary who strives to be salt and light, and wants the world to know the hope I possess that they so desperately need. I'm the teacher who loves that moment when students get it, wants to share my love of reading and learning, and is completely amazed that I get to share the love of Jesus with my students.

But I'm also the girl who no longer knows her passport country. There are cultural references I don't get, commercials I've never seen, poplar songs I have never heard. In many ways, because my world had been so expanded, I no longer share many of the values Americans (and southerners in my case) hold dear. I don't want the big house (I'd settle for a kitchen big enough for two people to cook in at the same time), the two cars (I utterly despise having to drive), or the white picket fence. I don't understand why people tell me to be safe in Prague, when they live in a country where you can't even go to a movie theater without fear of getting shot. I honestly could care less about guns and hunting and second amendment rights and the only football that interests me is the kind Americans call soccer. International experience causes me to disagree strongly with many about immigration reform and how to treat people who are different than us.

And I have stories that I long to share...but who has the time to listen? And when people do listen, the questions are always about what I miss from America. Very seldom has anyone asked what I miss about Prague. And honestly, I miss so much...I miss my family there, my job, my flatmates, my friends and co-workers, my church, my life. I haven't lived in this county for twelve years. There are not many friends left here.

And I can only imagine that other expats and missionaries feel the same way. All, while those of us who return to the States are glad to see those her (please don't think I'm not thrilled to see you), but sometimes we get lonely and just want someone who gets us.