They say that living overseas will bring out all our bad stuff. They say it like it’s a warning, like it’s supposed to scare us out of going. Like only a superhuman could go and survive.
And what if they’re right? What if moving overseas does bring out all our dark stuff, putting it on display for all to see? What if all the inner turmoil we kept so neatly concealed in our passport countries – or didn’t even know existed – starts falling out of our hearts, falling out of our mouths? What if it spills out into daily life, interfering with all the good works we’re supposed to be doing?
But — what if that’s not such a bad thing? I mean, what if it doesn’t end there, with you at the end of yourself? What if all the stuff that surfaces is supposed to surface? What if the only way to know what’s inside your heart is for it to come out? And what if the junk that needs to come out wouldn’t actually come out in your home country?
So maybe those multiple breakdowns have a purpose. Maybe knowing your weaknesses means you know God more intimately. Maybe you are exactly where He wants you to be, right at this moment. Maybe living overseas means becoming the person that God created you to be.
You followed Him across oceans and continents, across countries and cultures. You prepared for this for years, dreamed of it for longer. And all for what? Just to fall apart on arrival?
No, I don’t believe that. You followed Him this far for a purpose, because you love Him, and because He loves you. And now that you are where He wants you to be, He’s not going to leave you alone and without help. If God brought you to this place, don’t you think He will use cross-cultural living to shape you into the person He wants you to be?
When all our darkness reveals itself, God is right there beside us, waiting, ready to bring ever greater healing to our hearts. Through all this nasty falling-apartness, I believe God wants to heal the broken pieces of our lives. And living overseas might mean that we’re in just the right place to accept those healing changes.
So maybe they’re right. Maybe living overseas will draw out all our bad stuff. Maybe we won’t be able to hide it any more. But I no longer think that’s something to be afraid of — life with God is not something to fear.
So today, if you find yourself in that broken place, at the bottom of a mountain of messes in your life, have faith in the One who called you. Trust Him to put you back together again. Because falling apart is not the end of the story, but it just might be the beginning of a new one.