Apparently, this is the week I update you on my transition back from China. (See my post on China Partnership for another example of this. Bonus: that one features Cap’n Crunch.)
I just spent a year in a China, and had a much-needed debrief session at the end of it. The casual conversation among overseas workers included: fear of transition, excitement for American food, sadness for the end of an era, and expressing nervousness at driving again after a year of riding public transportation.
I participated in all these discussions, and threw in a “Yeah, I’m kind of nervous to drive,” comment or two, but I must tell you these comments were lies. I didn’t think I would really have any problems, but I was trying to fit in. As if doubting my ability to perform basic functions is a cool way to get “in” with the in crowd. (“I’m so freaked out that I’m going to drive like a time-traveling pioneer who’s never seen a motorized vehicle in her LIFE!”)
But like I said, I wasn’t really worried about it. I mean, how much driving can you forget in a year?
Spoiler alert! Let me tell you what you can forget: timing. As in, “Oh yeah, I can definitely make it across this busy road before those oncoming cars get h-SWEET PICKLED PINEAPPLES I DEFINITELY CAN’T NOPE NOPE NOPE!" (*HONKING*).
How can I not remember how many seconds it takes to cross a road? And while we’re questioning me, why can’t I remember how to interact with American persons? I start questioning myself like I’ve just Freaky Friday-ed with someone and am trying to act cool so people don’t catch on. As in, “Would I make this joke with this person? How deep did we normally get? Do they care about this subject?”
The good news is, the only things I can’t do are get places and talk to people.
This, along with other factors, such as jetlag, meant that the first days of coming back from China were an emotional adventure-land. It was mostly really, really good. But I was also really, really tired, and confused about how to feel and unsure where to flush my toilet paper.
And here is my biblical advice for this: Aaron says R-E-L-A-X. *
And here is my actual biblical advice for this:
It is very tempting to rate how “good” a day is based on how I feel about that day. If I had done this during my transition time, my ratings would have looked like this:
- Was able to eat cereal for breakfast with normally pasteurized milk: A+
- Almost got run down by oncoming traffic: Thumbs down
- Slightly awkward conversation. Question whether I can English anymore: Angst, angst, angst
- Consume ice cream: Gold Star
- Sudden, overwhelming need for a nap. Possibly jet-lag and/or ice cream related: Boo hiss
This rating system is ridiculous for many reasons. For starters, I don’t know how to convert these units to figure out how my entire day actually rated. Rating my experiences like this also means every day is a roller coaster, even though this stuff doesn’t matter, except for the almost-dying part. Also the ice cream. Ice cream always matters.
I am a big fan of roller coasters. But sending your emotions on them is no fun, especially when you remember the crashing-down parts a lot more than the flying high parts.
But here was the thought that came to mind and sustained me on my very first day back in the states:
My feelings are not the ultimate reality. Yes, my feelings have worth and I should address them; I’m not saying Spock should be our role model. And it’s natural that I want to succeed at transitioning back and that I want to feel successful. But sometimes successful transitioning (like narrowly escaping being hit by car) isn’t going to feel successful (because I almost got hit by a car). And sometimes I will mess things up and get frustrated, and that’s ok, too. So I’m not letting my feelings jerk me around. At the end of the day, I don’t need to inventory my emotions and see if the good outweigh the bad.The truth is that, regardless of my failures or successes today, and regardless of how I feel about those successes or failures, none of this changes the ultimate security: my standing before God. Grace is grace. He has promised me that I am his child regardless of what happens. Life becomes more calmly walking with God than a roller coaster of emotions when I remember this.
Here are some great words from Max Lucado, because writing is easier when you steal other people’s writing:
“Let grace happen. You have His unending affection. Stretch yourself out in the hammock of grace. You can rest now!”
Hear that? He’s saying the same things as Aaron Rodgers! So my advice really WAS biblical.
Have a r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g weekend, y’all.
* If you don’t get this reference, you need to rethink your professional football loyalties. Counselors on the line are waiting to talk to you at 1-800-PACKERZ-4-LYFE