I don’t think it really hit me until my plane took off from the Luoyang airport. I have made that trip from Luoyang to Beijing several times, always returning a few days later. As I looked out the window it hit me that I wasn’t coming back in a few days.I’ve been anticipating and preparing for my trip back for months. But I don’t think the weight of it hit me until just a few days ago. Needless to say, I am excited and I can’t wait to be back…but to be completely honest, I am also very afraid. Parts of me feel like I just left last week, other parts feel like I have been gone for years.
A few months ago, during one of the Show Hope trips, I sat in on the last night’s devotion led by Katie. It was focusing on re-entry. Katie led it and since she lived in China for years before returning to the States, she speaks from great experience. The purpose of the devotion was to encourage the group to be prepared to share all that they had experienced during their time at MBHOH, but also not to be disheartened when people just didn’t understand. It got me thinking, “If they need to be prepared for this after only a week, how much more do I need to be ready to experience these same feelings and emotions upon re-entry?”I am not quite sure that I can pin-point any one particular fear, but rather snippets of anxiety have been rearing their heads as I prepare to come back. There is the obvious fear of sadness and missing our babies, missing Mikey, missing the Martins, missing the nurses and staff…all people who have become close parts of my life. As crazy as life in China is, I know that I will miss the things that have become my “normal” (spitting, split pants, no concept of lines, horns honking….I could go on). I know that there are many things I will miss by being away.
But then, there is the fear of things I will encounter here. When people ask what is something I miss the most about America, my answer is often “convenience.” I can’t wait to get in my car and drive 5 minutes to the store (and be able to drive myself!), to have everyone around me speaking English and being able to understand every word that people speak to me. To be able to go to the bank, or the post office, or anywhere really without needing help. I miss the convenience. But on that same token, I fear becoming complacent in my comforts. And I fear it will only take days before I do, if I am not careful.I fear not being understood. Not because people don’t want to understand, but because they can’t, and I cannot expect them to. I am grateful that I have had so many friends come visit and that so many have kept up through emails, blogs, facebook, etc. I feel as though many have gotten a glimpse. But these babies, their lives, their stories, I just want to make them so real to others. I want the words I share with others to portray the reality of what our children face; their struggles, their pains, the reality that they live in as orphaned children, but in that I also want others to see the amazing grace, love, and care that our Father has lavished on them, on me, on all of us through our experiences with each of our children. And I am afraid that words will not be enough.
As our plane descended into Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the view of the sunrise was amazing. A clear blue sky, clouds that looked as though you could simply glide along them; and I was reminded that this is a good thing. I need this time. I need to be away, to rest, to refresh, to see my family, to get coffee with my friends, to drive to Target (to drive anywhere for that matter), to see the leaves change…I could go on and on. I also need to trust that life will go on in China without me, and that although there’s no way to predict what things will be like when I return, that it will be okay.As I walked into immigration, as silly as it sounds my heart was lightened when I was able to walk to the “resident” line (I’ve gotten so used to being a “visitor”). Then I remembered that I could order a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks, and it made me smile. Little by little, I am reminded that this is good.
Yesterday, I was a bit overwhelmed by a trip to Wal-Mart. Basically anything I needed or wanted (food-wise) was right at my fingertips; all for the buying, all for the consuming. But as I went down a few aisles, I realized that I had survived perfectly well over the past year without all of this. And truth is I want to continue learning to live without it, because I really don’t need it.Then I treated myself to a peach iced tea from Sonic.
I feel as though my emotions are in a constant state of change and I suppose it’s normal. Please pray as I wade through the emotions, that I would be able to find a balance. That I would realize that these things that I know and love are not bad, but also that I would not fall back into a place where I feel as though I need them or deserve them. God has graciously provided for me beyond anything I could need or want, and I want to remember that. Regardless of how I may feel from one minute to the next, I know that I am not the same person I was before I left. I can't be the same person I was before I left...
I think this blog post is very reflective of my thoughts right now...all over the place. So if we talk, whether in person or on the phone, please don't be surprised if my thoughts and my words don't seem cohesive. There's a lot going on in there right now and I'm trying to know how to best communicate it. Please be patient as I gather my many thoughts together into something that makes sense. And if I just start to cry, it's okay, it's not that I'm not happy to be here, I really am...there is just a life that I feel a bit diconnected from and people on the other side of the world, including many sweet little faces, that I miss terribly.