Here I am (far right) in the earlier days of life overseas, wearing my infant son, and shopping at the neighborhood market.
It was early 2007, and we'd just celebrated her second birthday. We were living with friends, and most of our earthly possessions sat waiting in their garage, packed in a small pyramid of cardboard boxes.
Our oldest daughter — our only child at the time — was sweetly oblivious to her impending fate. In a matter of days, we'd board a plane and travel 6,000 miles to a new land.
There would be new sights, new smells, new tastes. The unknown weighed heavily in an unfair contest against the known. There was no way to mentally picture our home, our furniture, our neighborhood, because so far, we had none. We were moving to a new culture, and the vagueness that lay before us was palpable.
But sweet Chickpea, she had no idea. Her world was play, eat, nap, play. She chattered, of course, but had no real way to share how she really felt.
As a mother, I struggled with guilt that I was snatching her away from familiarity, and that I couldn't really explain it to her. Eat up, because for all I know, this could be your last snack of Cheerios. No, we can't go to your grandparents' house next week — we'll be half a world away. In fact, the next time you see them, you might be a year older.
But I looked at her and the bravery on her face—however naive it may be—and I was encouraged. She had parents who loved her. She was in good hands. No matter where she was taken, she'd be safe. What is there to fear?
We sat on those uncomfortable airline seats, the three of us, and noshed on our sadness, our excitement, and even a side helping of numbness. I cried off and on for that 23-hour trek, feeling more and more otherworldly with each layover in a new country.
But my daughter, she was fine. She sipped her apple juice, marveled at the bite-sized personal TV screen in front of her, and napped on my shoulder.
One week later, we looked out our new living room window, still void of any furniture. This strange city and its flickering lights, engulfed in different food and different words and different daily habits, lay before us. We couldn't point which was was up if our life depended on it.
My two-year-old, new with words, wrapped her arms around me and said, "Let's go home, Mama." And my tears flowed. She knew something was different, even though she couldn't define country boundaries. What in the world were we doing here?, I thought.
Let's go home. That's what I want, isn't it? To feel at home. I know that won't happen until I reach my true Home. So in the meantime, the homiest place I can find is in the center of His will, where I can choose to delight. That's where I've tried to be these last two and a half years, embracing this culture as our home for this season of life.
My daughter, now nearing five, officially lives a third-culture life. She can successfully navigate the play structure at Chick-Fil-A and the bottlecap-infested, would-be-condemned-if-we-were-in-the-States playgrounds of her host country. And while she misses living near her grandparents, her courage is infectious.
On those days when I want to pick up and leave, I watch her welcome the unknown with stride, which is so prevalent in this culture. So these people speak in words we can't understand. What is there to fear? Sure, we don't know what tomorrow holds, and there's a chance we could be asked to leave this place. But we know Who does hold tomorrow, and He's promised us that He'll nurture us more extravagantly than the birds He feeds every hour of the day. We're not alone here.
My daughter embraces this host culture with a spirit of curiosity. She's content with the unknown. She's courageous. And she encourages me.
How do your children display courage to you?
by TshLeave a Comment