It’s been 7 years that I’ve lived overseas in Germany. 7 years of learning another language. 7 years of trying to integrate into another culture and understanding the mindset of another people. It’s been challenging and fun, exhilarating and difficult all at the same time.
And I love it.
Some people can’t believe that I’ve been there for...”7 years!!” For others, who have already spent decades overseas, my experience in another culture is just the beginning of the story. For me, however, it feels like both. Some days I feel like I’ve been there forever, and other days remind me that I will never be German no matter how hard I try.
When I am in the United States, I am at home in my language--I get the jokes and can participate in the fun banter of friends, I don’t have to think twice before engaging in conversation with a cashier or the strangers standing in line with me or sitting at the next table over in a restaurant, I don’t have to rehearse what I have to say on the telephone before I make the call. I’m at home here. Still, 7 years of morphing into another culture and trying to think and live in another language changes you, even to the point of actually feeling at home in that “other” place as well. So, sometimes when I return to my “homeland”, where I speak fluently and know her people well (for the most part), but whose society and culture is changing with a rapidity with which I cannot keep up, I sometimes wonder...where is my home?
I am at home in both places, and simultaneously a foreigner in both.
Sometimes, I think God keeps us in these places of juxtaposition in order to keep us longing for more. I long to find that home where I am not also a foreigner. Where I completely belong. Where I am completely known. Where I am complete. And the beauty of that longing, is that even here in this place that is divided, He invites me into the Home that is Him...to fulfill that longing in me. When I am feeling out-of-place, He offers me that place where my full and complete identity is Christ; that place, which supersedes culture and language and country.
That is the place I call HOME.