Wednesday, October 7, 2015

25 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat

Intentional Relationships

I attended a brown bag lunch, at work today, held by the regional psychiatrist.  The topic was "How to Handle High Stress Environments."  In other words, "How to handle life."  Life often feels like one large, high stress environment.  Maybe there are breaks between, but we float from stress to stress and we have to handle these moments in life in a way that we not only survive, but we  remain healthy individuals.  

The psychiatrist had some main points should become part of the rhythm of life to maintain healthy responses to stress.  We've all heard them before, things like:  get enough sleep, eat whole foods, exercise, spend time outside...  There was one idea that my mind really camped on for the day.  Be intentional about relationships with people back home.

Communication with people back home has been vital to my survival in a foreign country from the moment we first left America.  I need my family and I need my friends.  Life falls apart a bit when relationships are broken.  I feel like a vital part of me is disconnected and because I am so far away, I can't do anything to fix it.  

Relationships for me come in many shapes and sizes.  I have friends that I email.  We have ongoing discussions and I know the ins and outs of what is going on with them.  We share our prayer requests with one another and probe deep into issues of the heart.  I have always been a letter writer, so these relationships are essential to me.  Then I have people who enjoy the modern wonder of texting.  Short quick messages brighten my day.  A few sentences fill me in and keep the gaps between times we see one another, small.  I also need phone conversations.  I need to hear a voice, feel a laugh and share an experience.  I need to hear compassion, feel the sadness and share my thoughts.  As much as I need these things, I desperately need to give them as well.  I need to pray for you at home.  I need to feel your pain and celebrate your victories.  I need you to know how important you still are to me.  It is a vital part of my survival.

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