Since we’ve already been back home for over two months, I thought I might make an updated post on what that transition has been like.
Let’s just say that before we left Taiwan, I really thought going back home would just be a matter of flying over the pacific. I had no idea that I should have been preparing myself for reverse culture shock. It’s a thing. Trust me.
For one thing, we came to realize something incredible. Believe it or not…life actually goes on without you. And the world still turns when you’re not around. Shocking, isn’t it?
So, in some cases, that might mean that you can’t just come home and shimmy right back into old relationships like nothing’s changed. It’s like when a child shakes up a toy box and then opens it back up again to examine the contents. Things inevitably get shifted around, and what you once remembered isn’t quite the same anymore. That doesn’t mean that things can’t get back to the way they were before, it just takes some time and effort. When we first came back, I was actually surprised by how strong the feeling was. Like I had missed out on a year and a half of life in an alternate universe where I should have been all along.
Another thing I noticed was just how much I missed the little things. For example, I underestimated the healing power of kitty purrs, baby giggles, and overdue hugs. Or how a simple game of The Escape Room with your old friends in your own language can mean the world to you.
At our first English meeting back, I realized that I had become much like a dried out sponge spiritually. Our hectic life back in Taiwan had drained me beyond what I even imagined. The way it felt to hear English talks and Watchtower studies again…it was like hearing it all over again for the first time.
The time and distance away from Taiwan has given me the same kind of perspective and clarity that an old relationship gives you. I came to realize what I could and could not accept from any future adventure I decide to pursue. Especially as to what my limits are. And the realization that there is a fine line in the sand between a self-sacrificing spirit and serving Jehovah with an unhappy heart. And as far as my future pursuits go, I’m still trying to find out where that line is.
But the most important thing I realized since coming back home is that it’s OK to come home. To anyone who has had to come home after serving Jehovah in some capacity…it’s OK. It’s all OK. The reverse culture shock, the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, the reflection and everything that comes with it. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s all a part of growth. Bodybuilders are well aware of the concept that muscles are built after being torn down and then given time to rest…it’s during that rest period that they bind themselves together again and grow bigger and stronger. And I’ve found that ever since we’ve been back and in this “rest” period, we’ve finally had a chance to actually repair ourselves and grow into stronger people.
Another reason why there is nothing wrong with coming home is because of something that the missionary brother in Taiwan shared with us before we left. He read us the account in Luke chapter eight about the man possessed by many demons who called themselves “Legion”. After healing the man, Jesus got on a boat ready to depart from that area. But if you read verse 38 it says:
“However, the man from whom the demons had gone out kept begging to continue with him”
What did Jesus say?
“But he sent the man away, saying: “Go back home, and keep on relating what God did for you.”
What did the man do? How did he feel? Was he bitter? Angry? Did he feel rejected? Useless?
“So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what Jesus had done for him.”
And what happened when Jesus came back to that same area?
“When Jesus returned, the crowd received him kindly, for they were all expecting him.”
“Go back home”, Jesus said. Why? Because there was nothing wrong with going back home. In fact, the man’s obedience prepared the minds and hearts of the people in that area for when Jesus returned to them.
I’ll be honest, when the missionary brother first shared that with us, it didn’t touch me as much as I felt it should have. I don’t know why. Maybe I was too close to the situation at that time, as if I were standing too close to a painting with no perspective of what it was. But now that I’ve taken a few steps back, I see that painting very clearly and I find myself thinking often of his words. And I wanted to share them with whoever might be struggling with the same feelings about coming home. So whether the commission has come from someone, or from your own heart, if you’ve heard the words “Go Back Home” don’t let those three words be the end of the world. Because it’s probably only the beginning 🙂