Day 9: Caring for Your Dorothy {31 Days of Re-Entry}

Dorothy must have experienced some serious reverse culture shock, in spite of the fact that all she wanted was to leave Oz.  I wonder how Auntie Em and Uncle Henry cared for her?  Did they acknowledge her experience, or just try to urge her to move on with life as usual? 

Maybe you were like Dorothy, clicking your sparkly heels, chanting, “There’s no place like home.”  Or maybe you were like me, kicking and hurling myself on the ground like a toddler throwing a tantrum because I want to STAY!  I have heard that it is easier to return if you were truly ready to do so, but that it is much more difficult if you were thriving abroad and had to come home.  Pretty logical.

But this post is more for the Auntie Em’s and Uncle Henry’s than for us Dorothy’s.

One of the main aspects of re-entry is grieving, so it makes sense that you would care for your Dorothy as you would care for someone who is grieving.

5 Ways to Care for your Dorothy

1. Listen
Listen to our stories, look at our pictures and try and understand what life was like for us.  Listen when we need to talk about how much we miss our old life even if it means the same conversation over and over and over again.  I just kept waiting for the day my then-fiancé would roll his eyes and say, “But we already talked about this a million times!”  But he never did.

2. Ask
Ask us how we’re doing–and keep asking.  Just as a grieving person does not forget the person who died after a day, week, month or year, neither have we forgotten our old life.  Just because we may stop talking about it doesn’t mean we aren’t still thinking about it.  We just think you may be sick of hearing about it (as you may be).  But please keep asking.  When you do, this brings emotional healing and is a salve to our souls.  A simple, “How are you doing with re-entry?” is a good question to ask every few weeks.

3.  Give us time
There is no time limit on re-entry.  Five years later, I STILL struggle from time to time.  It takes much longer than you think it should, but hold on because we WILL reemerge from having our bodies in Kansas and our heads in Oz.  Eventually.

4. Give us grace
We are re-learning how to function in a society that has moved forward while we have been moving in a different direction.  We may not be up on current events, media, technology, and pop culture, so help us out.  Watch our faces carefully to see if we are following and gently enlighten us if we seem confused.  We want to re-engage, we just don’t know how yet.

5. Pray
Pray for us and with us.  Sometimes all we really need and want is for you to say, “Can I pray for you?”  You don’t have to have the magic words or even have a long prayer, but just entering God’s presence together helps remind us that this struggle is temporary, but that we serve an eternal God who transcends time, culture and emotional confusion.


What would you add to this list?  How have your friends and family cared for you as you have negotiated the waves of re-entry?

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This post is day 9 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

Find many other great 31 day blogs here!



Photo:  By Warner Bros. (1949 re-issue trailer. See: TCM Movie Database) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3 Replies to “Day 9: Caring for Your Dorothy {31 Days of Re-Entry}”

  1. Leslie, this is really helpful for me to think about. As I am loving (almost) everything about being in the U.S., my husband is grieving our having left China. He's lived half of his life there! I am trying to grow in sensitivity to his struggles and so appreciate your insights. Thank you!

  2. My daughter in law referred me to your blog. I am so glad she did. They are about to experience re-entry for the first time since living in Africa for 4 years-this will be their first stateside. I know that the few months they are in the States It will be a challenging experience. I blog myself (http://missionary's mom.wordpress.com) and had begun writing about our family's need to be sensitive to this transition. Your blog is very helpful, thanks.

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