You’ve been preparing yourself emotionally, financially, and spiritually for this move. Chances are, you’ve been doing this for quite some time.
Moving across the world (or into a strategic community) is no small thing. And as you’ve packed bags and repacked bags and begun separating yourself from the life you’ve always known, man…it stings.
Grief comes in so many forms: The loss of familiar surroundings. The security of familiar work. The comfort of loving people. It’s so healthy to make a list of everything you’re going to miss about your home culture and GRIEVE EVERYTHING.
No thing is too small to cry over. (If you don’t cry over it now, you’ll cry over it abroad. Pinkie promise.)
Preparing to move overseas makes us all a bit crazy. It’s normal and natural to become consumed with yourself…all your feelings of transition and the mounds of tasks.
So it’s also normal and natural to become frustrated when others don’t support you the way you need to be supported.
Maybe they don’t come over and help you pack like you’d hope. Maybe they don’t provide you the emotional stability you need when you feel you’re spinning out of control.
You’ve probably heard that it will surprise you who cheers you on from home once you’re gone. The people you were closest to will be distant, and the people you hardly knew will be most interested in your work.
I’m here to tell you that it’s true. At least that’s what I’ve experienced, anyway.
I’m here on the other side, and I see where that distance is coming from. It’s not from disinterest or apathy.
The people you love may have a hard time supporting your move abroad because they are processing their own grief of your leaving.
On the day my husband and I boarded a plane to SE Asia, my loving mother walked us into the airport, gave me a hug, and walked right back out to the car. Over the next few months, my friendships were a bit volatile and our families fought hard to try and find their way without us.
You are an important and valuable part of your community at home. And even though you’ve been called out, even though you’ve been set apart, even though you’ve been asked to take on an identity outside of your passport culture, the pain of your absence is felt by those you’ve left behind.
You’ve worked SO HARD to prepare for this move. All the trainings and personality tests have taught you what to expect. All the classes and blog posts have told you about the woes of cultural transition. You’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.
But the thing you can’t control? The thing that might throw you for a loop? It’s the way those close to you work through the difficulty of watching you go.
I’m not so seasoned to give advice, but I’d love to share this with you.
Your people? They love you. They want to support you. They are interested in you.
But they are still so sad to see you leave. And their grief is something to hold loosely.
Stay focused on your mission. Give your friends and family lots of grace as they figure out how to adjust to a life that includes you living far away. And pray that they are able to put words to the feelings they have about your move.
All you can be is obedient to your call to go. But others have to learn to be obedient to the call of letting you go.
Grief. It’s all wrapped up in the sending and the going. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we’re not the only ones going through a season of intense stress and sorrow.
May your final days at home and your first days overseas be filled with loads of grace and peace…for you and for all those you love!
How did you experience your community at home responding to your leaving?
How have you found ways to be understanding towards the grief your friends and family have experienced in your absence?