Tuesday, October 20, 2015
12 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat
The Need To be Known
Maybe it's the wind pulling at my skirt, breaking the humid stillness and making my hair all wild. Wind coming from the Philippines where people are displaced and hurting as a typhoon rips their home in two. Maybe it's because I'm a woman and every so often, my heart just wants to curl up into a ball and hide from the world, for no good reason at all. It could be because I'm human and we all have a deep need within us to be known by others.
Today I found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to have a friend visit. To walk from work, through the park together. We'd pause and share a laugh about all the people standing in a circle and slapping their feet in rhythm with a tape recorder counting out the beat. Walking down the main street we'd be careful not to get run over by mopeds as we cross the street. Dinner would be at one of the many food stalls or coffee shops along the way. When we got to Bible study, she would get to feel the power of 200 women singing hymns together. Then she could sit with me in my group and in the discussion and share my discouragement of not understanding the accent or even all the concepts taught from a second language speaker. Afterwards we would take the MRT (metro) home together, walk through my neighborhood, past the brightly lit Ferris wheel and to my apartment. The doorman would bob his head as he let us in with a warm greeting then sprinted to beat us to the elevator and push the buttons for us. All of our heads would be nodding like out of control bobble heads as we said "shie, shei" or thank you. Then we would step into my apartment and she would see my kitchen where I cook for my family and the couch with the four inch gap between the cushions that we always fall into.
Some people say that I'm homesick, but I think that I am longing to be known. I have a deep need in me for those who are close to see and understand what my daily life consists of. My experience, here and now, make me who I am tomorrow. After my parents visit me at each post, things change. There's a different understanding. For me there's a knowledge that they know what it means when I say I need to go to the grocery store. When I talk about my Bible study, my mom can picture the women, sitting in a circle, sharing life together.
I know it's not possible for all or really any of my friends to visit. We move too often, we live too far away, it takes too much time and it's too expensive. I understand. A few people have held my hand through the years. I communicate with them and they know my life, to the extent it's possible and for that I am truly grateful.
I'm not the only one who needs this. I think every person on this earth needs to be known. It's how God created us to be. Things got really messed up in the garden when we sinned. Since that moment, our hearts began longing.
Look around you. There are people needing to be known right where you are. It doesn't take much effort, it just takes a little time to get to know them. To listen to where they came from, why they're where they are today.