The cross-cultural life is an adventure, but it’s not always comfortable. You never quite fit in. Things are always changing. When you’re in your foreign country, it takes years to learn the culture and language and make friends. You miss home.
Then you visit home and feel out of place. You don’t even know how to push the buttons in an elevator. This happened to me the other day. In an airport elevator, I pushed what I thought was the second floor button, but nothing happened. I pushed it several times before realizing that I was actually pushing a label. The button was the RAISED KNOB next to the second floor label, so I tried pushing it quickly and hoped the man standing next to me hadn’t noticed! Every time I come home, I forget how to work the little machines at cash registers that take your credit and debit cards. It feels like learning to walk all over again.
Moving back and forth means lots of change, but one thing for me is constant: my relationship with God. He’s the same whether I’m in the Middle East, spilling my çay at a neighbor's house, or in the United States, re-learning how to use an elevator. I’ve been reading the book of Matthew in the mornings, and as I read, I try to imagine spending time with Jesus and learning from Him.
What stands out to me is Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I see my morning reading and prayer as a time to take Jesus’ yoke upon me and get myself ready for the day.
Taking Jesus’ yoke upon me also means:
- Accepting and embracing the life He has for me each day.
- Thanking him for my joys and trusting Him with my sorrows.
- Remembering that the daily events of my life are a specially designed yoke, made by a loving God, to bring out the best in me. This means that my crazy, cross-cultural life is part of his special design for me.
If I view the changes and challenges of life as part of Jesus’ perfect plan for me, if I trust in his unfailing love and faithfulness, and if I keep my focus on following him day to day, then I do find rest for my soul.
Can you identify with not fitting in? What kinds of things do you have to re-learn when you return to your home country?