31 Days of Re-Entry

Re-entry for me was when life became like a rope that was forever being pulled from my hand–always moving and impossible to grasp.  In the past five years since leaving China and returning to the states, I got engaged and married, had two babies, lost a father-in-law, changed jobs twice and moved across the country. It’s been six months since our cross-country move and the rope is still in motion, though I’m beginning to hold it long enough to feel the texture of the coils in my hands.  And it doesn’t burn as much as it once did.

This series will be on the topic of re-entry, or reverse culture shock, but I hope you will find some solace, strength and hope for whatever transition you are experiencing.  Re-entry specifically describes the experience of living abroad or in another culture for any amount of time and then assimilating back into your “passport culture.” 

Re-entry is about being changed by your experience abroad, yet being expected to live the life you once lived in a culture in which you no longer fit. 

Disorienting and confusing, it is no wonder re-entry is analogous to a spaceship returning to earth from space. 

I first experienced reverse culture shock in high school after returning from an amazing summer camp experience in the hills of North Carolina.  I had no idea what was wrong with me.  My other experiences of it spanned 10 years and were after spending 6 months in Uganda, 5 weeks in Tajikistan and 5 years in China.  This series will mainly be about my return from China, including past journal entries about the themes, lessons and resources that have impacted me as I have attempted to process this experience.

I am afraid of the water
cold, murky
yet others play freely

Whether I jumped
or was pushed
I don’t know
but I do know
that if
I don’t drown
I may learn
to swim

(Written 2/19/02 during my first teaching job in the inner city of Chicago, though I feel it applies to any terrifying transition in life.)

I wrote this series in response to a challenge to write during the entire month of October, called Write 31 Days.  The table of contents is below. Please visit multiple posts and leave comments–I’d love to hear about your experience and get to know you. So glad you stopped by! 

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)

Check out my Letter to the One Returning Home at Velvet Ashes.

~Follow Leslie on Twitter and Facebook