Sep 1, 2008

home is where the heart is

This picture is taken from the hill behind our house in Germany looking towards it. The following was written to a friend of mine who was my high school classmate at Black Forest Academy in Germany. It was regarding a comment that she'd written to me about feeling like I was leaving home when I'd visited Europe previous times.

You said it really well, and of course you would understand. I felt like I was "leaving home" the previous times I'd visited. Last time, though, in 2006 - my mom took me to visit Bethany at BFA for my 35th bday - it was especially difficult. So I was a little concerned that I might be putting myself in that funky place again by going back there this time. In 2006 it was the first time that I'd been back since '97 when Bethany graduated and JD was with me.

In '97 we were still dual income no kids, we were thinking about starting a family, ....only 3 years out of college, life was ahead of me.

In 2006 we had three kids, we'd been raising support for a living for six years, I was not the mom I thought I would be and marriage was not what I thought it would be like.

So then I go to Germany, to BFA, and visit the place where my dreams were all in front of me, where life was relatively care free (although I might not have realized it at the time) and I felt like I desperately wanted to get to that place again. I walked through the streets of Kandern and felt like "this is ME." The little cobblestone streets, the rolling hills, the Christkindelsmarkt. I was at home in Kandern. And I was sure that JD - who was a high school teacher before we went into ministry - ought to realize his calling to teach at BFA.

It was a perfect plan: we'd still be in ministry; we'd probably get better support because we would be "real" missionaries now (Digression: I have an issue with people not thinking we're "real missionaries" because we live in the USA and work with athletes. We still have to raise support. If we were doing exactlly the same thing in a foreign country we'd be more acceptable to church mission committees. Okay, back to my plan...); we wouldn't be in a sports ministry (something that I have struggled identifying with as an art major and non-athlete. I totally understand the need for it and enjoy it, I only struggled with my role in it); there ARE sports at BFA so it wouldn't be like we weren't working with athletes (see? I'm thinking of JD too! Although his sports are American Football and Baseball, neither of which they have at BFA. Still I was sure that he could learn to enjoy volleyball and track); and - most importantly - I would be back at "home" in Kandern. I'm sure that JD and the kids would love to have this be their home too. Who wouldn't?

I presented this plan to JD and he said, "yes, but I don't feel called there. I really feel called to reach the American Athlete."

The American Athlete. Did you know when I was at BFA I decided that Amercan Football Players and American Cheerleaders were the epitome of the American Stereotype that I was embarrassed by and was so glad that I wasn't like THEM.

I only lived in Europe for four years. I never felt like, when they talked about Third Culture Kids, that it really applied to me because, unlike many of the kids at BFA, I wasn't raised in another culture. Although I tested out of German in college, I never considered myself fluent. Yet, here I was, sitting in the car after JD told me that he was called to the American Athlete ("in America," he clarified when I told him that DoDs Schools have football) and I realized that I really was a Third Culture Kid. I finally realized it when I was thirty-five! I didn't feel completely at home in the USA, and yet I didn't quite fit in to Germany either. (I admit, I do like my American convieniences.)

I tried to explain this lightning bolt realization to JD and he just didn't quite get it. He tried to. He just couldn't understand why I wouldn't want to live in the States. Europe is a nice place to visit and everything, but live there? He had no desire. And his lack of desire to even consider living there left me feeling... empty. It wasn't his fault. He grew up in the USA and is proud to be an American. So am I. And yet there's that part of me that is proud to be a EuroAmerican. A Third Culture Kid.

This last trip to "home" with John, I was relieved to realize that I didn't have that homesick feeling, that wrenching of the gut like I had when I left Germany the previous times. It was my home for a time, just like all the other places that I've lived. No - not like the other places that I've lived. It definately holds a special place for me among all my many homes for so many reasons. But I think I have finally come to be all right with not going back home. And I am raising an American football player and American cheerleaders! I am enjoying where I am and what I've been given instead of wishing for what was and what will never be again. For the most part.

1 comment:

  1. Hebrews 11
    13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

    Someone once pointed out that our hearts are always seeking a better place. It's innate within us. There's a part of me that misses Holzen, too. And I am looking forward to that time when I will be Home.


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