Friday, June 6, 2014


As I've learned more and more about myself throughout my time in Honduras, I've found myself using words to describe me that I would have NEVER expected. Missionary. Introverted. Bilingual. Expat. While they've each had their own fair share of difficulties, I find myself focusing more and more on the "expat" part of me.

An article called "Leaving Well: 10 Tips for Repatriating with Dignity" popped up on my Facebook NewsFeed the other week and was soon followed by "Landing Well: 10 More Tips for Repatriating with Dignity" and "Staying Well: 10 Tips for Expats Who are Left Behind".

I knew that I would immediately understand the Leaving Well and Landing Well articles. And I did. So well that I cried. Both times. But I hadn't expected to understand the "Staying Well" article at all. I'm leaving Honduras, I'm NOT the one staying behind. So how did that article make me cry as well?

While the past month has been full of me trying to leave well and preparing to land well, I also had to say good-bye to Cristian. Although I'm not experiencing staying well for long, it has been a huge shock to my system. A huge change that I couldn't have prepared myself for, no matter how hard I tried.

I really loved "Tip #2: Flip the Manual Override Switch" because I watched it happen between Cristian and I. We fought more in his last week in Honduras than we ever had over the past two years. Everything caused a fight. A simple phone call to make dinner plans always ended up in one of us shouting nasty things at the other and hanging up the phone. Me getting out of the car from said dinner always included slamming of the car door and sarcastically yelling "BYE!!" We both knew it was happening, but neither one of us were capable of making it stop. So, a few days later, when I read how to Stay Well and saw this "When your departing bestie makes up a reason to be mad at you so it won't hurt so bad to say goodbye. Give her some grace.", I knew what was happening.

Saying good-bye wouldn't hurt as bad if we didn't care as much. It was easier to pick fights and be mad at each other than to acknowledge the fact that there were some big changes up ahead.

I'd expected to deal with the hardships of leaving and landing, I hadn't expected the hardships of staying. One of the biggest hardships might have been preparing to leave well without my biggest support system.

All of Leaving Well hit a little too close to home, but, as with Staying Well, there was one tip that has been the most comfort to me in these uncomfortable times.

Tip #7: Don't Fret the Tears or Lack Thereof
Know what's really common as you pack up to shift every piece of your life to a different part of the planet and say good-bye to people and places you have grown to love deeply? Emotion. Know what else is common? Lack of emotion. Strange, I know, but people are different. Crying makes sense. There is plenty to cry about. However, wanting to cry and not being able to is every bit as normal. Maybe it's because you've already cried yourself out. Maybe it's because the hard part for you was the process of deciding to leave and you spent all your emotion there. Maybe you just can't wait to get out. Whatever the reason-- don't feel guilty for weeping like a baby... or for not.

And while there have been moments/ hours/ days where I have been found weeping like a baby, there are an equal number of highly emotional moments/ hours/ days where I have not been weeping like a baby. Not because I don't feel like crying, but because I physically can't cry anymore. If I was able to, I can guarantee that I would've had tears rolling down my face 24/7 from the time school let out until now. It doesn't mean that I don't feel sadness though. Oh, I feel it. I feel it every second of every day.

Staying Well and Leaving Well have been part of my every day routine. Every day I need to remind myself to give a little more grace that I would normally show and every day I have to ask for more grace from those closest to me. All of this is preparing me for next weekend-- Landing Well.

Landing Well is something I have never done well. NEVER. I typically spend days holed up in my room alone crying about how I miss my friends and baleadas and my moped and my mosquito infected house and nights on Facebook chatting with my roommates. This continues the entire time I am home until I return to Honduras and proceed to miss everything and everyone in the States. To say that I'm dreading this process would be an understatement.

But Tip #6 of Staying Well says 'It's OK to Love Two Places'.
"Man, I don't know how you lived over there. I bet you're glad to be home." I think this (frequently shared) statement can be more internally conflicting and frankly hard to respond to than any other. I am so glad to be home, but I was so glad to be there as well. There were some hard parts about living there, but there are some parts of living here, too. There were lots of days "over there" that I missed home, but there are days here when I feel something remarkably similar. Loving where you lived as an expat doesn't mean you love your homeland even the slightest bit less. Don't feel guilty when you feel homesick at home.

And I do. I do love two places at once. From now on, for the rest of my life, I will love two places at once. And there is nothing wrong with that.

The underlying message of Staying Well, Leaving Well, and Landing Well is grace. I need to be giving more grace than I'm used to and I will require more grace than I have in the past. Transitions are HARD, leaving is HARD. But it's also hard for the family and friends who I continually leave behind and who are hurt because I miss my friends in Honduras who I saw last week, but haven't seen them in six months.




Staying Well, Leaving Well, Landing Well. Here we go.

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