So after 4 years of being in China, worldly speaking, I have nothing and am starting to feel, more than ever, that when you get ready to pick up your life and sacrifice for the call, you are not only sacrificing one time on the front end, but two times when you have to sacrifice your China life. And when you come back to the American life you put on hold, you realize that it did not wait for you, and now you are so perpetually behind your peers on so many levels (although living in China might have taught you a thing or two about plumbing). And although there is some excitement, as though you are getting a fresh start after graduating, the world seems less forgiving because you are older now and haven’t been networking with people or furthering your career these past 4 years.
Sacrifice, not only when you are feeling excited and super spiritual but sacrifice, when you come home feeling regretful about not doing all you could have and feeling like a traitor leaving some of your closest friends behind. At least you can rest in the safety of your home culture, right? Shouldn’t re-entry be a bit like riding a bicycle; once you figure it out, you never forget. And yet the bicycle of culture feels awkward and its alignment is off; it keeps veering to the right, but you know you need to steer it to the left, and before you know it, the road has forked and you weren’t able to take the left road, so now you are stuck on the wrong road with a piece of crap bicycle. In frustration, you fall down a lot and say weird things and take your shoes off when you don’t have to and tell people they have acne and lament that kids you taught in swimming lessons are now getting married and having babies before you. And that's also the sting of sacrifice that you didn't consider.
Maybe when I left China, I was hoping my initial sacrifice would be rewarded as fast as my need is to start on cobra insurance. I have been secretly praying that God would give me a pat on the back in the form of an awesome, cross-cultural, teaching job to thank me for the sacrifice. Or maybe I expected a job along the lines of using my imperfect Chinese skills to “help people." And now that those rewards seem out of reach, I’m still expecting just a small thank you from God in the form of a date with one (or two) handsome men just for a little self-esteem booster and encouragement. Ah, but let my dreams be big, my rewards less immediately tangible, and my bicycle ...problematic.