You packed your bags. And your kids.
Now you’ve arrived to start a whole new way of life. If you find yourself thinking, “Man! Doing this with kids is HARD!”, no one else has. I personally love every minute of moving with our kids. Like when I come home dead tired after getting lost in a city I don’t know yet while running errands in a language I am still learning, only to find kids that need discipline. Or when I want to retreat in the downswing of culture shock to process all the change, but my kids are needing me to process their own emotions as they, too, go through change. Yah, it’s super sweet. Ha!
No, but really. Going through change with young kids, especially cross culturally, IS hard. Arriving to a new country brings the constant demands of culture shock. Doing that while caring for them – as they too deal with culture shock and therefore might be extra needy – makes for a great deal of stress. We have done this whole gig without kids and it’s another story entirely (though admittedly, with its own set of hard).
And yet, moving with kids has been God’s grace to us. Here are a few ways I see the blessing they have been to us every time we arrive to a new location:
When you transition with family, you bring your own little home with you. Even when your new house doesn’t feel like home, and you still don’t have “safe” friends that you can be yourself with, you have your husband and children with you – the people that know and love you best.
Children help you live life in community. They introduce you to new friends through their friends at school or in the neighborhood. Having kids forces you out of isolation – their need to burn energy takes you to the park; their need for friends helps you remember you need friends too, and, their cuteness breaks down walls with neighbors.
You get to experience the new city or country twice – through your eyes and theirs.
Having kids pushes you to keep doing hard things necessary to create a life in your new community when maybe you’d take a break. For example, my girls really enjoy going to church. Even though I love worshipping God with His people, sometimes going to church is hard work for me because of significant language barriers. There have been times I am tempted to stay home. Knowing how much they want to be there is a sweet encouragement to me. The discipline of showing up Sunday after Sunday to a worship service in a foreign language is yielding fruit in my heart. There is a knowing and being known happening that in turn deepens love for God’s people in this place. This gives Him glory.
God uses my kids to build up my faith. He uses their endurance to grow my own. Their courage in the face of hard things is life-giving to me. And seeing the Lord working with them reminds me: Christ really knows what he is doing with them.
Having little people’s needs to care for ahead of my own is God’s mercy to me. Their vulnerability and neediness drives me to the end of myself very quickly. When life gets hard, and I want to seek strength by myself, Christ draws me to Himself as the one who alone is my strength.
Finally, kids – they keep you laughing. And man, the Lord knows how much we need laughter in the middle of all the crazy.
Christ’s faith in us gives us eyes to see God really is kind in all his ways. His wisdom has planned every “arriving” season we have had with kids. It is challenging and yet also His good gift. The trustworthiness of God assures me of this: goodness and mercy follow us as a family every single day of our lives.
I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you see God’s gift to you in your kids during challenging times? Especially as you arrive in a new country/city?