When Hard Things Happen Back Home

by Jerry Jones on August 21, 2017

There is something surreal about being on the other side of the world while major events unfold in your home country.  It leaves you feeling both connected and disconnected at the exact same time.

 

It is 7158 miles (11,520 kilometers) from where I am sitting right now to Charlottesville, Virginia (USA) but there is a part of me that is right there.  Thanks to the marvels of modern technology I can tune in anytime I want.  I can get lost in the news feeds, and sucked into the endless vacuum of clickable links.  If I’m feeling brave I can peek into the opinion pieces which are on the same page as the comedians which are just one careless click away from the babblers which are right next to the loud mouths which hang out with the trolls.

It’s a slippery slope.

The difference though, between my two sides of the planet, is that on this side I have to chase that information.  There is no avalanche of “this just in” unless I go looking for it.  The intensity, the tension, the boiling blood and the inescapable super-charged atmosphere is all taking place on that side. I can see it on my 13 inch screen anytime I want — and I can feel it because it is my home and those are my people . . . but it’s not the same as being there.

Connected and disconnected at the same time.

And as much as this life abroad has taught me to zoom in it has also conditioned me to zoom out.  Like a lot of expats I wrestle with global guilt.  I find myself instantly consumed by the overwhelming events from back home and just as quickly reminded that back home is not the only place on earth where overwhelming events are consuming people.

In the exact same week that a man in Virginia drove a car into a crowd killing a woman and injuring 19 others another man drove a van into a crowd killing at least 13 and injuring 100 others in Spain.

And a mudslide killed almost 500 in Sierra Leone.

And 24 people were killed after an election in Kenya.

And 32 drug dealers were killed in the Philippines.

And dozens were killed in a train wreck in Egypt.

And there were floods in Bangladesh.

And a food crisis in Yemen.

And fires in Greece.

Come on fellow expats . . . tell me I’m not the only one who does this.  In one moment I am caught up in the whirlwind of news from my passport country and in the very next moment (if I’m being totally honest) I’m judging them because no matter how big it is, there are bigger things going on in the world.

Connected and disconnected at the same time.  

And then I realize that I would strongly defend the rights of anyone in Sierra Leone or Kenya or Yemen to be consumed by their own news and less concerned about Charlottesville .

And then I realize that I haven’t extended that same grace to my own people.

And then it hits me that I have also withheld it from myself.

And then my heart aches for my homeland.  Tension.  Intensity.  Frustration.  Empathy.

Connection and disconnection at the same time.

There is something surreal about being on the other side of the world while major events unfold in your home country. 

You who once were far off (disconnected) have been brought near (connected) by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one (connected) and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (disconnection) by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God (connected) in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (disconnection). And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access (connection) in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers (disconnected) and aliens (disconnected), but you are fellow citizens (connected) with the saints and members of the household of God (connected), built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together (connected), grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.  

Ephesians 2:13-22

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Jerry Jones

Jerry lives in China with his beautiful blended family. He is a trainer, a speaker, an adventurer, a culture vulture and an avid people watcher. He writes about all of that at www.thecultureblend.com
  • Becky

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Jerry. I’m an expat living in the Pacific, and have been wrestling with my feelings about what’s going on in my home country (US) lately…and you have articulated it perfectly. Thanks for the encouragement to extend more grace!

  • Julia L Thielman

    This article addressed the emotions I am feeling. I live in the Barcelona area but am originally from and currently on vacation in the United States. The day of the attack in Barcelona, I was overwhelmed and disgusted by the tension in the United States displayed on the news. We return to Spain in a few days. I will be focusing on this scripture mentioned as I written through my emotions for my host and passport country.

  • betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspo

    This is one thing the missionaries of old, those without instant communications did not have to deal with much. This was told to me by an older missionary. With easy communication one can live in both worlds on a daily bases. This is distracting and at the same time disheartening because we miss our family and friends and a good country. But with all that said, I am glad I live in the era of easy communications. Glad I did not have to travel on a ship that took months to get back and forth between countries. Months to get letters, and sometimes years not seeing children, some left their children in their home country to serve Him overseas. Oh yes, I am thankful I was and still a missionary in this day and age. No body told us it would be easy though even in this age. The battle is never with getting snail mail or instant email. The battle is always in our hearts, the flesh and the spirit. That truth always helped me no matter where we were to make it one more day for Him. Good post.

Previous post:

Next post: