And we have yet another week of what I truly hope is something helpful for somebody out there. As I contemplated today's entry, I asked the Lord what I should share. What other issues am I beginning to struggle with or worry about in regards to moving home? What do people in missions or ministry experience as they come back home from the field? As I walked the hallways of our offices this week, listening to the coworkers I adore, laughing with them, loving the crazy chaos, seeing them do things that endear me, I realized how comfortable and in my skin I feel here. And how I suddenly don't feel that will be the case back home. And there births our 4th issue:
Social anxiety. With this one, I will go as far as to say I'd put money on it. If you've been out on the field in a very different environment and you're returning home, you're feeling it. There's a sense that where you've been is "you." You are deeply connected with those who're head-first in this too. Everyone's worked together in something that only that group will understand at the core. Everyone there gets each other. They've laughed and sobbed and fought and prayed together. They've become a family. A strange one, maybe, but a close one none-the-less. And the person these people have influenced us to become is understood here. At home? Well, at home people are probably not going to realize at first that we are a completely different person. That we will be feeling more connected to the place we just left than the people we come back to. That we're going to think a bit different or respond to things in a way that's a bit un-orthodox from how we have in the past. We've talked through, grown in, and learned about things with a group unlike any other, so we're going to have moments of reacting to something and suddenly realizing nobody around us understands our reaction. It will be a bit unsettling. Old friends who are very familiar. New reactions and understandings. It's a strange dissonance. We're also going to experience a bit of anxiety over fitting back into circles we've been absent from. It's hard to see that everything has just gone on without us. That some of our friends are either closer or have grown away from each other. Circles that we once were intricately woven into look a bit different from the outside, and we may wonder if we're going to be able to find our way inside again. We may fear that we are forever to feel like an outcast. Getting back into the social world already buzzing around us may be daunting.
I have one word to offer. One word that will be of great help to those trying to love on us and be a good friend as we return: Patience. Please have patience as we navigate a muddy road of returning to a social life. Patiently allow us to weird out over things that seem insignificant. Patiently invite us to things until we're comfortable enough to say "yes." Patiently give us permission to messily re-integrate in whatever way we need. It will take time. But we'll eventually find our groove again!