Why I think I will always live as an alien

Now that I am further and further out on this side of culture assimilation and shock I can say with certainty all the statistics are true. It’s really hard and it does get better. Now as I cross over the border of only a few months shy of two years I found myself able to really step back and reflect over the experience with a bigger view and wider perspective.

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be an alien; because I am now a foreigner in a country that is not my own. The capacity of my heart has expanded when it comes to understanding and empathy for those who are aliens in my home country of the United States. The emotional, mental and, at least for me, very spiritual journey that is offered and shaped through the process of adjusting to a whole other culture is not something to be taken lightly or dismissed. And it is not just me that has experienced this but my whole family. My kids now know what its like to not speak the same language as everyone and how terrible infuriating and helpless that can feel. They also know what it feels like to overcome that obstacle, persevere through the struggle and felt the victory of finally comprehending even the simplest Norwegian sentence for the first time. They also know the grief and sadness that comes with leaving grandparents and extended family behind and not exactly knowing when they will see them again. We just bought tickets this spring to go back to Texas for the first time this summer, after two years living overseas. My kids also know the simple, but difficult process of giving away toys, familiar belongings and moving out of a home they will never see again, because when you move a family of five this far around the world it is just practical to minimize. As much as their little hearts can comprehend it, they understand loss and sacrifice. They’ve had to face it over and over again.

To be real, we are not fleeing from a war-torn country, or escaping from some dictatorial regime. We haven’t experienced death or traumatic loss or abuse. We aren’t fleeing for our lives. Our family just chose to move from the US to Norway. But I think in a real way, we’ve tasted to a small degree those emotional and mental challenges that everyone faces in embracing and adjusting to a new culture. And if I can bridge the gap of empathy to understand that population of immigrants throughout the world, than I think that alone is worth it. Though there are a thousand others reasons as well.

No matter how well you adjust a part of you will always feel foreign. As an American in Norway I will always feel a bit louder, a bit more direct, a bit more opinionated and a bit more emotional. At first I think I gave myself too much pressure to adapt and become “norwegian” but now I am learning the balance of being myself and keeping my own personality and cultural traits while at the same time embracing and honoring the culture I live in.

I think more than anything its pushed me to also recognize my own foreignness in the world as a whole. At the end of the day I’m really not a citizen of the US. That is a part of my reality here on earth, but really I am a citizen of heaven. I’ve always sort of understood this from a theological point of view, but I think for the first time I get it at a personal and deeper level than ever before.

As believers we truly live in a world that is not really our own. Maybe one day it will be when heaven and earth are joined, but for now we don’t belong here. I have actually always felt that feeling of “otherness”. But the physical reality of moving from one’s birth country to another country for the first time creates a stark contrast between it just as an idea and more of a reality.

I am an alien living in a foreign world. My perception and language and thoughts are dictated by the culture of heaven and a lot of times it really clashes with this planet we call earth. Sometimes I am really bad at communicating the reality of heaven to earth too. It makes so much sense in my head, but when I try to speak the language of earth it comes out in a jumble, sometimes incomprehensible mess. It’s not easy, but like any language learner knows, you just keep trying until one day those crazy sounds began to form meaning and sentences and structures. And everything that you knew in your heart language, begins to translate into the new language you now understand the rules for. And then you can actually communicate to these strangers who you live among.

I can say now, even though I know I am just two years in, barely scratching the surface of this whole living overseas lifestyle; I know it matters. Living in the tension of not really belonging and yet belonging as you adapt and understand, it is showing me so much of God’s heart for the nations. I think deep down it is a part of what I was created for. Living as an alien, maybe this is the perspective we should always live as follower of Jesus.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. bettinann says:

    Oh Tasha, your post these last two weeks have so blessed me! Thank you! I love you,Mom

     

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m an American and my trip last year to Norway convinced me I should live/work in Norway. I was impressed by the culture and plan to return sooner rather than later.

    Like

  3. Momom says:

    Thank you, Tasha, for your insights into our really being foreigners in this world. What a lovely reminder! I am so glad you’re writing and I hope you know how much I look forward to each piece! I hope, too, that you’re encouraged by those of us who anticipate each piece you’re sending….❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Toni Fowler says:

    Sooo good my darling! Thank you for the enlightenment !! 😘💝

    Like

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