Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Feelings on the Field

Its hard to imagine losing everything.

I think we know it would be hard, but we don't fully grasp it.

How can we unless we've lived through it?

I think one of the hardest things that a MK faces is that no one really understands what we go through. People don't understand what it's like to give up your whole life. Even worse- we are expected to be grateful for it, because there are suddenly a whole bunch of people watching your family.

One of the things that I struggle with is that people would tell me they were there if I ever needed to talk, but then they'd give me the same cliche answers about how "things would get better" and "I was gaining an experience" and "they'd moved before so they knew what it was like." I can tell you- I've moved a total of eleven times in my life. I thought I knew what it was like. I thought moving to a different country wouldn't be that different.

I've never been more wrong.

It hard to even wrap your mind around that. Having everything one day, and losing it all the next.

Imagine it with me- You've spent the last couple of weeks selling everything and saying goodbye. Goodbye to the friends you've known since kindergarten. Goodbye to grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Goodbye to the church that taught you to have a passion for Jesus, to the school you made so many memories in, to the bed that kept you warm and safe from monsters, to the bikes you rode before you could drive, to the dog you begged your parents for and then watched grow up from a puppy, to the neighbors you caught lightning bugs with on warm summer nights, to the couch you spilled the nail polish on, to all the childhood toys you spent hours playing with on the floor, to the vase you never told mom you broke, to the trophies you won in soccer, to your favorite books that took you on so many adventures, to the table you shared so many meals and conversations at, all of it. Gone.

With tears streaming down your face you say goodbye to the house you grew up in and hug your loved ones one last time, not knowing when you'll see them again, and you walk away with only your immediate family and what you can fit into a 50 pound suitcase and a carry-on.

"With one plane ride the whole world as TCKs have known it can die. Every important place they’ve been, every tree climbed, pet owned, and virtually every close friend they’ve made are gone with the closing of the airplane door. The sights and smells of the market, waves of people walking, darting between honking cars as they cross streets, store signs written in the local language - everything that feels so familiar and “home” are also gone. TCKs don’t lose one thing at a time; they lose everything at once. And there’s no funeral. In fact, there’s no time or space to grieve, because tomorrow they’ll be sightseeing in Bangkok as well as four other exciting places…”
— David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

The thing that really sparked me to finish this post was when I saw someone comment on a Facebook status where a fellow MK was mourning her loss and tell her that she'd be fine, she was strong and that she should be grateful for her experiences. People just don't understand that sometimes we need to grieve. After all, we've just had a big loss. When someone loses a loved one, we don't just tell them to get over it. No, we mourn with them and pray for them

I know that even though we lose a lot, we gain even more, but outsiders only see the things we've gained, not what we've had to say goodbye to to get that experience. Its not easy.

This may be the hardest post I have ever written. I usually work little by little on a blog post, throwing in a sentence or two here and there, putting whats in my head onto the screen in front  of me until I feel like God has taught me my lesson and I have all I need to say, so this post has been about two years in the process. Quite frankly, I don't think I'm completely done with this subject, because I don't really have an answer yet. Who knows if I ever will? And on top of that, this is a touchy subject, I don't want to step on any toes, and I don't want to complain, because I absolutely LOVE being a missionary kid. The point of this blog post is not to tell you how horrible it is, because I bet most MKs would agree with me that even in the hard moments, we wouldn't trade our lives for anything, but what I just want to communicate with you is that MKs need you. Remember your missionaries and their kids. Pray for them. Talk to them. Let them know you're there the listen without judgement, without any cliche answers, just love.

 "I pray that no missionary will ever be as lonely as I have been. - Lottie Moon"