It’s not often that someone else gets it, I mean really gets it: the frequent power black outs, the elusive balance of attempting to go with the flow and yet still maintain some type of schedule for the sake of your own sanity. Even little things like the challenge of trying to keep shoes on your kid’s feet (I’m about to just give up on that one).
Sometimes a quick message “home” asking for prayer or just understanding never gets sent because it takes too much emotional energy to explain it all, or I don’t want to come off as complaining. At times I’m afraid to talk about something for fear of sensationalizing this life that I really do love—challenges and all.
When I moved to Papau New Guinea, where my husband is from, I knew no other global workers here. We are currently our organization’s only workers serving in this country, and making connections takes time. Paul did not take on cross-cultural work by himself. He took John Mark. He took Silas. He took Timothy. He took Barnabas, and even though Paul and his co-workers did not always see things eye to eye, they were there for each other to fill a need that has existed since the Garden of Eden when the Creator looked at his creation and said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Support, understanding, and having people who “get it” is so important especially when bombarded by cultural challenges and frequent feelings of being the obvious outsider. We are humans, not super heroes, created for connection and belonging. Someone understanding what you are going through may not take the challenges away, but it definitely makes them lighter to carry and isn’t that something we are called to do, “ to bear one another’s burdens”?
I think this is why the Connection Groups offered by Velvet Ashes have been such an encouragement to me—a small, caring group of often like-minded women who just get it. It is amazing how even though we are spread out all over the globe, a love for the work that we do and the unique circumstances that we face connect us and often forms quick bonds. It is a privilege to share and hear each other’s prayer requests each week. It is inspiring to hear how God is at work in various situations all over the world. It is refreshing to have a space where it is not so much about your organization or even the work that you do but—how are you? How are you really doing? How can we pray for you this week? What is your perspective on this topic? I have found Connection Groups to be such a sweet oasis, a safe place to talk about big issues and small joys. It’s a rare, beautiful place where iron seems to sharpen iron even from miles and miles away.
Particularly as someone in an intercultural marriage, I have been so blessed to connect with other ladies in similar situations, through Connection Groups with this specific emphasis, who once again get it. Ladies who get that when a crisis hits going “home” would mean your husband might have to stay in a different country with no clear timeline for when you could be together again as a family. Ladies who know what it is like to stress over visas. Ladies who have navigated blending cultures in order to keep their beautiful families going in often less then simple circumstances. I love that VA Connection Groups make space for singles, those in transition, those with special needs children, and those navigating re-entry to name just a few. It once again shows how similar yet different all of our circumstances are.
I think it is safe to say most of us know what it feels like not to be accepted or to feel judged for the life that we have chosen. I once attended a conference for global workers and was chatting a bit with a lady who I had just met. I mentioned that my husband was from a particular town in PNG. She responded by saying very pointedly, “He’s from there, or he grew up there?” as if it was acceptable to marry an MK but not someone local. The question shocked me. “He’s from there,” I responded taken back a bit. That ended our conversation, and she walked off.
Not everyone will get us, or the choices we make, and that’s okay. I remember coming back from one of my first longer overseas trip and my pastor’s response was along the lines of, “That’s nice that you got that out of your system; you can stay home now.” That was over seven years ago. Responses like this make me appreciate the gift of Connection Groups even more. It’s always nice to find your tribe, in a sense, and a joy to be able to connect with and encourage each other even from afar.
Where does connection fall in your list of priorities? How have you pursued connection lately?
Stay tuned for more information about the Spring 2021 session of Connection Groups coming soon! Mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 16th when registration will open. This spring session will go from the week of March 21st to the week of May 9th. Check out the Connection Group FAQs for this session here or visit our Connection Group page!