Elliot was given a collection of Dr Seuss books for Christmas. I chose, Oh the places you’ll go! to read to him first because it seemed appropriate for a Third Culture Kid. As it turned out, I found it pertinent to myself too.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
It’s only a few weeks now until we leave and the comment we hear most from people is, ‘What an adventure it will be for you!’
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
As much as we have trained for several years and have a great vision which we have spent the last 6 months inviting others to share, we’ll have to hold those loosely, as least for the first little while. We have to be prepared for things to be slow and unexpected. Flexibility is key.
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights!
Except when you don’t.
Because sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
In December, we went to CMS’ workers’ conference and heard from workers who’d been on location for several years, decades even. There were stories of great heights but there was a lot of heartache and hurt as well.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
One of the most poignant stories from workers’ conference was from a couple who had fought back from a near-wrecked marriage to finish well on their location, thanks in part to CMS’ commitment to counselling for its workers. They were generous enough to share their story with us.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly, they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
These are my feelings and the kind I expect to feel for many a year as we traverse the complicated landscape of cross-cultural work. So often the way ahead is not clear, and there is no ‘right’ way. I know that my tendency is to be so unsure and reluctant to make mistakes that I become paralysed by even the smallest decisions.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
Before us is missing people in Australia; waiting for trust to develop and friendships to blossom on location; navigating the complicated issue of how much time to spend with other ex-pats. I expect we’ll feel isolated at times and desperately lonely.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
My great hope and prayer is that we will persevere though humidity, spiritual attack, bouts of vomiting and malaria and whatever else we encounter.
You’ll get mixed up of course,
as you already know.
[So] step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
We must have the courage to make mistakes. And balance that with the humility to listen first and to keep listening even when we feel we see clearly. And the grace to forgive ourselves when we don’t.
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!
Or if your name is Davis! These are great words for my faint-hearted moments.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.