Love/hate relationships have shown up in my life more than I'd like to admit and when it comes to change, it's about as strong as any other love/hate relationship.
I love travel. Seeing new places, cultures, people, food, and ways of living intrigue me. Learning a new language fascinates me. The change of location for a short amount of time makes me happy. It draws me to the Creator in a new aspect. I find myself seeing more of His heart through different groups of people and in that learning process, I also find myself falling in love with people I can't even communicate with. Even though the speaking is limited, the smiles, laughter, hugs, and even the holding of hands moves me to tears because we all have something in common. We all have a longing that is deep within us. It longs to be filled by a Father who knows us better than we even know ourselves. We have emotions and they all translate into other languages pretty simply.
I don't think I'll ever get over my love for travel. The joy that it brings to my heart is like therapy. It changes me more than I'll ever be able to explain to someone.
I also love change when it comes in the form of rearranging furniture or redecorating the house. There was a time in my teenage years that I would rearrange my room almost every week just because I loved the newness that it brought to life. For the following week I could enjoy something different...something familiar with a brand new twist to it. It gave me a weird sense of comfortableness. Somehow the change spoke something to my soul that change alone could speak...words just didn't cut it.
When it comes to moving or people coming and going all the time, I hate change. Nothing within me brings that heart stabbing pain and tears to my eyes like the change of something a little more permanent...it just hurts more than words can begin to express.
It all started at the young age of six when my family moved to the Caribbean where I first encountered a small taste of the rest of my life. I can remember the first morning at the breakfast table like it was yesterday. My parents, two brothers and I attempted to have family devotions before we partook of the food before us, but it only ended up being a family crying session. Tears were the only way to express the mixed emotions from the change we were attempting to swing through. It was hard.
The years following that first move continued to bring constant change in different forms into my life. High school groups would come to the island for a missions trip. They would stay in our house and become our friends, but then they would leave....go back to their American world and maybe say hi to me five years later when I embarrassingly couldn't even remember their name. It was fun to meet new people, but the constant come and go slowly began to create the foundation to an ugly wall in my life.
After four years of life in the Caribbean, my family hit up the US for a year before we made our home in Asia. In the words of my counselor, the plane never really touched down for very long in Minnesota before it took off again. Trying to find my place in an unfamiliar, yet familiar, place took time...but we didn't have much time. I did my best to connect and I think I did a pretty good job. Maybe it was too good of a job because when it came time to move to Thailand, I was absolutely sure that my dad didn't know what he was doing. Sure, God tells people what to do, but sometimes people don't hear right, and I was pretty sure that he wasn't getting it all correct. Much to my dismay, and even for my own good, my terrible attitude didn't change the plan. I am ever so grateful that I didn't see the struggles coming in moving because I might have given up hope, but slowly I experienced the grace of God as leaving a somewhat familiar culture and diving into a new one took place.
It was hard. I just wanted my life in Grenada back. I wanted the life that I new so well right in front of me. I wanted people to understand me and to give me a break because I wasn't really enjoying what was taking place...it took time, but I came around...God worked in my selfish heart and I slowly began to enjoy my home in CNX.
Even though meeting new people is just a part of every day life for me and it's easy and enjoyable, I find myself standing right beside the wall of self protection on a weekly basis. I want to be where it's safe...or at least where I know I can take shelter if it gets too messy. The constant change of people coming and going all the time has brought more tears to my eyes than I'd like to admit. The fear that this 'new friend' is going to go back to his own country and not really care about my life anymore is rather real. It's not that I doubt the loyalty in that individual, but that I have experienced it all first hand. They didn't do it on purpose...no one has. At least as far as I know... but when someone leaves their home for four or eight months, they have their whole squad and support team back there waiting for them...their life at home is ready for them to come back and their friends will be their companions once they return. They won't need me anymore...the need was only there for a short amount of time and then it went away...
Sometimes God calls people to join your staff for two or three years and then He calls them on to some other place...in that time they become family. They invest in you and pour tons of energy into your life...more than you deserve. But when it comes time to move on, you cry, hate the airport, and try to find a way to move on in life...
The same cycle takes place again, but this time it take you longer to let them into your life because you don't want to face the pain all over again. Eventually you are reminded how much you receive from these people and how blessed you really are...in spite of the pain. You open your heart and go through it all again...it hurts. Your trust is tested and your heart feels like it's left in a little pile on the floor...but God gives you everything you need to pick it back up and keep going. You see the blessings when you spend time with these different people in other countries and you thank God that He brought them into your life...yes, there were rough times, but there are blessings...
Change is a major part of life...and so is pain. We all experience it at different levels and in different ways...I'm not here to say that my life is harder than anyone else's because I don't think that's true. I am here to say that if you know a Third Culture Kid, please do all that you can to invest in them. Maybe it's taking them out for coffee to hear what all is going on in their life...and then keeping up with them for the long haul....you do what you think will work, but please don't let it be short term. The last thing a TCK needs is another person to attempt to care, only to realize a few months later that they were just being used as a crutch in life...
I have been blessed with people who have given and spoken into my life more than I feel like I deserve. I have some good friends today because those individuals chose to go out of their way to let me know that they care...it wasn't a short term thing, but something that lasted for years...that's valuable! And I wish that other TCKs could feel that love too.
I'm not here to say TCKs are the only ones who struggle with this stuff. I know there are some of you out there who don't have that name, but resonate with some of these struggles too. I just feel like it's only my duty to speak up for the hundreds of TCKs who are trying to make it through life with some big obstacles starring them in the face.
If you are a TCK, hang on tight. The roads don't necessarily get easier, but the character that is built from the struggles is valuable. This family that we are a part of understands...and one day we'll make it to eternity and see the lives that were affected by our family's lives overseas. The eternal celebration will exceed any pain we experienced here and the struggles will fade...Hang on and stay strong. God always gives us what we need at the exact time that we need it.
"Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be."