I’m home. I’m sitting in my bedroom. In Kansas. Five thousand and some miles away from the place I called home these last four and a half months.
Returning home is a weird feeling. I had to say goodbye to some people that I have grown incredibly close to these past few months. They were my support system, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of the goodbyes were more like see-you-laters and some had more of a tone of finality.
But one thing is for certain: I’m back from Chile.
And I’m different.
Time changes people. God changes hearts. Experience changes perspective. Travel increases awareness. Study abroad changes lives.
I’m coming back different.
I’m leaving Chile a different person than when I arrived. I’ve seen God work in my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve grown in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. I’m sad to leave, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for my life. I’m not sure where He is leading me or what He has in store, but I know that He has the best in mind. And I know I can trust Him. God has shown me that He can do wonderful things through His followers. He can do so much more than we can think or imagine.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
God’s been at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. He’s shaped me to work for His kingdom. The process hasn’t been all enjoyable. He had to weed out some bad habits and prune back my own desires. But what God has done in my life has all been in love. He’s been working to shape me into a better follower, friend, and person. He’s shown me my weaknesses and my strengths. He makes all things work together for our good.
Romans 8:28 (NLT):
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
God’s changed me. He’s changed my heart. He’s changed my desires. He’s changed my life.
And now comes the hard part: adjusting to my ‘old’ life with the ‘new’ Jean. The culture shock returning home is harder than the culture shock of going to a new place. When you enter a new culture, almost everything is different, but you expect that. You know that you need to be flexible and open to differences. When you come back, the culture is familiar, but you are the different one. People expect the same person that left. But you have changed. You have grown. Sometimes in ways that you’re not even sure of.
So clashes happen.
People are confused.
You are confused.
But thankfully, God is a steadfast refuge:
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
– Psalm 46:1 (NLT)
He’s there in times of confusion, struggle, and conflict. But He’s also there to share our joy and happiness.
God is a steadfast companion.
And I know that I can lean on Him.
I’m ready to see what He has in store for me. He has something wonderful planned, and all I have to do is trust Him.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)