It has almost been a year since we stepped off the plane in America with our five crates of all of our belongings, an 7 month preggo stomach, a four-year old who has only known Uganda, and two adults who have lived overseas for over 5 years.
I remember feeling like I had been living in a whirlwind of every emotion possible for a while and it didn’t stop once my feet landed in Texas, my home, the place I longed for so often while living in Uganda. I was thankful to be coming to a familiar place, blessed with the most incredible medical services to bring our second born into the World. I was thankful to see my family, I was thankful that I was able to get in a car and not have my body beaten up by the roads, I was thankful for Chick-fil-a, I was thankful for doctor’s offices that were air-conditioned and organized. But where we really staying? Is this now my every day? What is my every day? What will I do? Who will I connect with? Who will get me? I am not the same Dacia that left 6 years ago.
I left as a single 27-year-old who thought I would be gone a year and come back to continue my career and marry a Texan and live in a cul-de-sac and my kids would go to the best schools and we would have that picket fenced life, my best Pinterest life. Here I am today, married a Tennessee boy that I met overseas, living in a small town, not much of a hot social life, adopted our girl after the longest year fight of my life, all in our first year of marriage, held dying babies, held miracles, walked into the darkest places, seen the light break through, every day could bring all the emotions possible, experienced injustice, been racially profiled, I am so changed. I don’t even have words to describe all that I have had the privilege to experience.
Everyone thought since we were coming “home” to our culture, to our families, our roots, this would be the easy part. I wanted to believe that. But deep inside me I was scared to death. And those fears have slowly creeped in as reality.
I feel as if I am here yet hovering above my self, not able to truly engage. Why? One reason was because within months of getting home, we were hit with confirmation of something that we feared for a while concerning our daughter, was indeed true. It derailed me. It was something I couldn’t talk about without feeling like I would be misunderstood. The devastation was wide-spread, it effected everyone I loved. It made me question all we had done. So, although we were home I was fighting one of the biggest battles we had faced and I felt so defeated being thousands of miles away.
Another reason was after years of experiencing so much suffering and hard things, you quickly learn that you cannot truly process every thing that you encounter or else you would emotionally collapse. You deal with it the best that you can while not truly letting the weight of it all sink in and you keep going. Keep going out there every day and trying to do the best you can without really letting the reality of the sin and ugliness of it all sink in. Now that I am far removed and see the life around me here, I am beginning to finally grieve and process. Process years of things that have messed me up. But on the other hand, thankful to have experienced it.
When I would go out and asked, “Hey how are you? How is it being back?” I didn’t feel like I could just unload without the sweet person asking slowly backing away, wide-eyed, overwhelmed and taken aback by my brutally honest answer.
While battling the news we received, we also quickly realized that we have had a very unique experience to see the world differently. Our experiences have opened our eyes to something that the majority have not been able to see. Everything about our lives in Uganda, even the day-to-day – going to the store, driving, social events, made us have to change the way we make even the smallest decisions. My day to day decisions here are still being filtered through what I have known for the last six years. Some times that works and other times, it doesn’t.
But here is what I know and believe with every fiber of my being, there is nothing like seeing more of Him in the eyes of those that are so very different from you, there is nothing more humbling that being a guest in another culture, nothing more beautiful than having to ask the Lord to change your heart to love deeper and bigger, to be able to experience what He says, “You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and you will be my witness here, near, and far” (paraphrased). To see death and suffering but still see the light overwhelm the darkness. To understand how a momma could leave a child in a pit latrine to die, but then to experience the grace that can only come from Him to extend to a momma who is wounded and scared herself. To see His heart in all of it.
“For our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await our Savior..Phil 3:20”.
I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and the Pastor was talking about what Jesus said to His disciples before his death and resurrection and this one line hit me and I just kept hearing it over and over for the rest of the sermon…
“You are to live as foreigners in the land…”
And it was then that the Lord said, “Dacia, instead of fighting this feeling of being a foreigner, instead of trying to make wherever you are…here in America, or in Uganda feel like home, maybe just maybe this is EXACTLY how I desire for you to live. To know and actually feel the weight of not belonging anywhere but with Me, wherever I have you. To be able to taste the longing of going Home, to wrestle in the in between, to be uncomfortable wherever I have you, because it is when you are uncomfortable that you see Me. Live as a foreigner, don’t try to get comfortable. Love where you live, become all things to all people, so that they may see Me. Let the stretching, loneliness, the being misunderstood, draw you closer so that I can send your farther out. This is not all there is, my Kingdom and my Glory is your forever, and when that is in perspective, you are bound to feel like you do not belong here.”
So, if you too are feeling like you don’t have a place to call home. If you are feeling like you are a foreigner in your own land, or you find yourself truly in a country that is not your own; embrace it. And if you have an opportunity to be in a place where you feel like you don’t belong but you know He has called you, go.
I will be trying to embrace being a foreigner and loving the others around me who might not feel they belong either. I need a lot of grace and a lot of mercy because it’s beyond what I can do on my own.