It’s easy to measure the change in our lives – our outer lives and our inner lives – when we look back over a period of time, the longer the better. “Three years ago, I would have reacted completely differently to this than I do now,” or “My life was so different just one year ago.”
Sometimes, though, there are experiences that mark stark inward change. First semester of college. The death of someone we love. Times spent in another culture. The change isn’t a choice, it’s a reaction.
When we change drastically on the inside and have to continue living in circumstances that haven’t changed much, it’s hard. Can I get an amen? Many of you know this much better than I do. You look the same on the outside, and people regard you as the same, but you’re different inside and you don’t know how to communicate that without being rude…but neither do you know how (or want) to live the way you used to.
The first time I went to the Middle East, the coming back was exponentially harder than the going. What I experienced there didn’t fit into the context of my old life, but my old life was still there, expecting me to continue. The first couple weeks back in the US (and after such a short trip) were ridiculously difficult. I didn’t know or understand how to cope with my worldview changing, or how to communicate it to others, and that was really depressing. It was partly reverse culture shock, but I believe it went much deeper. The Lord used that trip (and the painful re-entry on returning) as a catalyst for my life going a completely different direction than I had ever imagined.
But that’s another story.
I can share several examples of pivotal inner change in my life. Let’s talk about the present though, shall we? I recently returned from 6 1/2 weeks in Thailand. I changed a sight more than I expected, in ways that I definitely didn’t expect (God is sneaky like that – in the best way). I’ve had significantly less culture shock than I expected, I guess by virtue of a lot of international travel, but I’m different on the inside. Just different enough to burn a little on re-entry.
I also moved right after I got back (different apartment, same city) and I’m starting a new job. Wow, that’s a lot of change, how are you handling it? Thanks for asking, and actually everything changing slightly on the outside has been really nice. The change of outer context feels appropriate for the inner change; it feels right that my circumstances should be slightly different, since I’m slightly different. Yet, it’s not so much change that I feel overwhelmed.
This is a gift, because it doesn’t always happen so neatly.
Re-entry hasn’t been frictionless, though, and I need the grace of Jesus daily to understand his will for this time of my life.
I’m not sure all of this had much of a point, except maybe some of you have experienced something similar, maybe to a greater or lesser degree. Most of it is me processing, via the written word. Jet lag…