Living in a foreign land can be quite the challenge, but as I read scripture, I come to recognize, no matter where we are in this world, we are foreigners, aliens, not meant for this world. I can’t stand that popular saying that came out a few years ago, #YOLO (you only live once). This simply isn’t true. This isn’t our home. We will live again. Forever in eternity.
But this morning, its hard. It’s hard living in such a foreign land. If you are reading this, you might be thinking that I am referring to the Dominican Republic, but you will be shocked to know that the foreign land to me is the land I was born in. The US has become foreign soil to my wandering heart.
Sure, it’s nice being 4.6 miles away from a Target. If I need something for our rental like black out curtains, I simply drive the 4.6 miles, walk in the store to the blackout curtain aisle, choose the cheapest ones (mine were $9 a panel), pay and drive home. I can have them hung in the room in less than an hour from deciding I actually needed them!!!!!!! (multiple exclamation points definitely required!) In contrast, if we were in the DR and I needed blackout curtains, I would hunt the internet, try to find the best ones without actually seeing them, order, have them shipped to my mom’s or our headquarters in Louisville, and wait. I would wait until someone could bring them down in a suitcase to me in the DR. Sometimes, I would wait a month for my blackout curtains. Sounds crazy right? No Starbucks in the DR either.
But my soul longs for the ease of the days in the DR. The unforced rhythm of living that is slow and unhurried. The walks, the way we would simply go outside and play if the power was out. The way friends would just “pop by” as they were out walking kids, dogs, or running errands. Our Dominican neighbors who stopped for a chat as they walked to the park for their morning exercise. The Haitian woman who came by for a new bag of clothes and some dry food items once a month for her little girls. I even miss the traffic (blasphemy, I know!).
I miss our community. One thing I have tried to describe to others is the communal way in which we lived. 10+ families all living on the same street, caring for one another, stopping by each other’s houses, always a visitor, always a friend to discuss issues of the heart with, or to simply talk about our hair, or how to get things like blackout curtains here quicker :). This community became our family. It also became our comfort. In anticipation of my second miscarriage while I was on bedrest, my closest friends were sitting on my bed with me making schedules for picking up our kids, making meals for our family, taking my girls for playdates and loving them well when we were such a mess. I will never forget these times our friends stepped into our pain and loved us through it. I miss my kids’ friends. They have the best group of buddies and even though they don’t know it, years from now they will share the sweetest bond of being 3rd culture kids and the difficulties that arise from that.
I miss our work. I thought I would live and die in the DR. Now I am not so sure. I wonder if we’ve become too comfortable. I wonder if we’ve relied on our own strength and not the strength of the Lord to sustain us. I wonder if a new season is coming. And what that new season entails. In my heart of hearts I want to live knowing everyday that we are foreigners in whatever state/country/city we live in. I want to be fully dependent and connected to the Spirit. I want the knowledge and depth of insight that comes from knowing His word and that it would be planted deep inside and rooted in my soul.
This unhurried way of life is only possible, if we allow it to be so. Our American mindset can quickly take over and our lives can parallel those of the fast paced US living in a New York minute. And if I am 100% transparent, it probably isn’t quite the way my soul longs for it to be. Most things aren’t.
I am learning too that no matter where we live, an unhurried way of life is not dependent on the country you live in- whether it’s fast paced NYC, or deep in the heart of the country. It doesn’t matter if you live in an undeveloped country without access to everything at your fingertips or in the fastest technological country in the world…
The choice to live slow, unhurried, missional and intentional is a choice and it doesn’t happen to you as a result of your location. It happens because you’ve made it a priority no matter where you live. It is a part of who you decide to be.
We can still produce. I am a producer. And though it has almost destroyed me, and you’ll here me refer to myself as a recovering overproducer, I am learning I can still produce. But it doesn’t define my existence. Only the Lord can do that. I produce out of service, not out of identity.
I love the way the message translates this scripture, 1 Peter 2: 10-12
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
I want to live a slow, unhurried life that makes room and priority to love God and love others well. To tell of his great work in my life and around the world, so that they too will come to know a Father that deeply loves them and when we leave this world, we can live on in our true homes in eternity.
What country, state, or city we do that from may be undecided, but the method in which we choose to live is pretty solid and I couldn’t be more grateful for this time we’ve had over the past several months to process and pray through who the Lord has made us to be and how he desires us to love and live.