Facing the Foreign Familiar

selfie within a selfieAs I’m nearing the eve of our departure for the States on our first home assignment, I must confess, I’m a bit shocked. In some ways, it feels like yesterday that we were getting our bags unpacked and our little house outfitted here in Kenya. But to be nearly two years in, and looking now at closing up our little house for the first time, is mind-boggling. Where was all of that time spent?? In reflection, it was spent traveling, training, getting malaria, making multiple hospital visits for various ailments, enjoying quality conversations over steaming cups of Kenyan chai and mandazi with newly acquainted friends, learning Swahili, failing at Swahili, trying out new areas of ministry to fail and try again and again, hanging the laundry up to dry in the African sun day in and day out, crying tears of exhaustion and tears of elation, and above all coming face to face with a new self. A self well known and a self still to be known.

As I face returning to the familiar, I own that I am not the same as I was when I left it for foreign lands. I own that when I step foot on the soil of my homeland, it will not feel quite like the home I knew and once invariably belonged to. I own that I will be a foreigner in the familiar, treading lightly on old, well-worn paths. I now understand this byproduct of living abroad, that I belong nowhere, and yet feel that I can now belong anywhere, in a sense.

What will it be like to be “home” but to realize in a new way that “home” is what I carry with me? That as a wife and a mother, I.Am.Home. to three hearts. This is my cherished burden to bear and my blessing to bestow. I own the trials of this first season, allowing the lessons within each one to chip away at the rough edges. I own the triumphs as well, allowing the hard won victories to propel me forward in fierce Hope and carefully crafted perspective.

Yes, nearing the eve of our departure, I face the foreign familiar. But when  I stop to reflect on this, I see that I’ve been facing the foreign familiar all along, it’s been staring back at me in my own reflection.