1. Lame questions will get lame answers.
Example: How’s Africa? will get a response of something like, hot, or still there, or something equally as lame, followed by how’s North America?
Something all of us who have spent any time overseas understand – people back home don’t really want to hear about our lives. They say they do, but they don’t. They want to hear one short, sweet story, preferably about a child, with a happy ending. Very few people want to hear more than that. I’m not going to jump into talking about my life. Please ask specific questions and I’ll give you all the insight and honesty you want. Goodness knows I love talking about it, but I need your invitation.
2. Let’s talk about what matters.
Oh my gosh, Krissy, you’re so tan! This is not a conversation starter, nor what I want to hear when I first see you after a year away. It's you stating the obvious, and might get the response of wow, you have two eyeballs. Yes, I am tan, I live in the tropics and have great skin. I get it from my mom. But where this comment always goes is to you then complaining about the weather wherever you’re from, and then I have to commiserate and feel appropriately guilty because I live in
a sauna the tropics and have
great skin thanks to my mom. I didn’t travel five thousand miles to talk
about the weather. So please, save
us both. And on behalf of the pale-er
crewmember’s families that might be reading this: wow, why aren’t you tan? is
also not appropriate. They’re not tan
because when it’s a hundred and fifty degrees outside you avoid the sun at all
3. Do not compare your life to mine.
Comparison is the thief of joy. My calling is no greater than your calling. It just about rips my heart out every time one of my friends says something along the lines of gosh, my life is so boring compared to yours. It’s not, it’s just different. Whether you days revolve around naps and diapers, or soccer and homework, or your job, spouse, or whatever you’re called to do and be in this season, that matters. My life isn't greater or lesser than yours. Really, truly, I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other, every day, just like you. I just happen to do it in a bit of an unusual environment. Comparison is the thief of joy.
4. I want to know. Really.
When I ask you about your life, kids, ups, downs, job, home, or whatever, it’s because I want to know. Really. Please don’t respond with oh, it’s nothing like what you do, or it’s not that exciting or nothing's really happened since you left. I don't just want to know the big things. Please don’t assume because I don’t have children or a spouse that I don’t want to know about your little ones’ milestones or your frustrations with the schools or how much you love watching soccer or what you love and hate about your job. I want to know those things, because I want to know you. And that is how relationships work. Please. Allow me to celebrate potty training or a successful garden or the latest promotion or the house work with you – it’s called doing life together. And really, I put a huge percentage of my life up here on this little blog, so you already know most of my stories and how I’m doing. Allow me to know you, too.
5. Don’t hold back.
Are you dying to know if I have met someone special (no), eaten goat brain (yes) or other weird foods, do I really believe all the God stuff I write about (yes), do I get seasick (a little)… Please, just ask. Seriously. No subject is off the table. But I can’t read your mind, and remember number one, I won’t volunteer information, you have to ask.
6. Awkwardness is expected.
I don’t really fit in anymore. I don’t understand the inside jokes, or the movie quotes, or the references to news stories. I don’t know the story of what happened that one time at that restaurant last year that was just the funniest thing ever. And you’ve changed, too. Other people have filled in the gap that I left and now I don’t know where I fit in. There will be awkward moments, and it’s okay.
Got something to add? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve been overseas, too! All the best - Krissy