I've been thinking a lot about our homecoming, which is less than 5 weeks away. I'm not worried about packing up, finding flights, or getting these doggies to Charlotte. Here are some things I am a little concerned about, though.
- Consumerism. Buying more and more has always been a struggle in my life. Our time in Perú has been a respite from that, but I don't know that I'm any free-er from the temptations that I was before. I fear that when I get back to Charlotte, the desire to accumulate stuff will be worse, not better. Or at least feel worse after all this time with nothing worth buying in sight.
- Beauty and self-image. Confession: I don't care what Peruvians think of me, but I really do (or at least did) care what Charlotteans think of me. Stepping into the sea of tall blonds in perfect outfits at Southpark Mall is nearly enough to give me a panic attack. What will it feel like to be somewhere again where I am comparing myself to everyone around me and coming out on the bottom?
- You've changed. I love all of you and think I know you so well. What if I don't? What happens now that you have new values, new friends, new perspectives on life? What happens if I don't understand you?
- I've changed. What happens if you don't understand me? And let's face it, you probably won't entirely. We've been through a lot of unique experiences over the last two and half years that have shaped and transformed us (for the good or bad remains to be seen I guess!). How can I relate to you now that I have new values, new fears, new friends that you'll never know, new ways of looking at the world?
- Kings has changed. Our church is so dear to my heart. From the day I set foot in the door (the first week of Advent in 2000), I knew I was home. What happens now that my home has changed? This is probably one of my biggest fears. King of Kings is about as much of a "home" as I have, but in our time away the pastor has changed, people have come and gone, our role has changed, and probably a lot more. That's scary to me. What if you don't notice me? What if you don't care about me anymore?
- The pace of life in the US. Do you want to know a secret? I take an afternoon siesta almost every day. I didn't the last three days and it hurt! What happens when I get home and am thrown back into the rat race, waking up early and staying up late, trying to get everywhere on time, fitting too many things in to one afternoon? Just thinking about it makes me tired.
- Condemnation. No, I'm not afraid you'll judge me; I'm afraid I'll judge you. I hear about it all the time, missionaries returning from some other place and seeing US culture with condemning eyes. I don't want to do it. I want to love you and accept your differences, the way I love and accept the differences of people here. I know judgmentalism is my predisposition. What can I do to protect myself?
- You won't have time for me. I love the way people here aren't busy and make time for relationships. No one is turning down an ice cream date or rushing out the door the minute you say "Amen" at the end of church. I'm scared I'll get back and you'll be too busy to see me, call me, remember me. I'm scared that your life is too full for me and that you have other priorities that preclude getting together more than once every six weeks.
- We've missed your shared experiences. The coldest winter ever with snow on the ground in 50 states! America's first African-American president! A major economic crisis that left many of you struggling! A lot has happened while we've been gone. We've heard about it, but we haven't experienced it with you. Will we understand you without that?
So as you can see, there's a lot I'm concerned about. Not necessarily worried, but concerned. My prayer is that I will cling to Christ as I find my way through this transition, and also that I will be honest with my friends and family about my needs and struggles. Here's step one in honesty. Now you know (well, sort of-- I'm not sure a general blog post counts as being vulnerable).