13 Reminders for the TCK’s “Trip Home”

I’m flying to the USA soon. By the time this gets published, I’ll probably be there already. We’re going back to visit friends and family, and I’m tremendously excited. 

But to be frank, going back to my passport country is nerve-wracking. Every single time. 

My passport says I’m American, but I don’t feel like it when I take a step off the plane. Not at all. 

For one thing, everyone is speaking English. Like, what on earth? Since when does everyone speak English?

Then they say “Welcome Home” at the gate. The thing is, I feel like a fish out of water. Because these people sound like me, they are presumably just like me, and they expect the same from me. You feel like a fraud for the first two hours. You feel like you’re holding some sort of secret identity on the inside. 

Because this continent-hopping maneuver stresses me out, I thought it’d be kind of helpful to put together a list of things to remember before you take the leap. You know, from one TCK to another. 

But then I had a brilliant idea. 

I asked my other TCK friends. 

Behold our magnificent list of 13 things to remember when you “go home” for the summer. 

  1.  Visits to your passport country can often be hectic. Make sure you create time to ground yourself in God’s word. It will change your interactions and experience entirely. 
  2. Strangers will come up to you, call you by name, and claim they’ve known you ever since you were little. Be prepared to update them on your family. Talk with them – do it with a smile.
  3. Remember that not every foreign language you hear is your country’s language 😉
  4. Sometimes it’s good to bring a couple of gifts for the friends you might meet. You never know when you might meet your new close friend.
  5. Be prepared for: “Say something in so-and-so language.” Some people prefer asking for a sentence to translate, whereas some people come prepared with a phrase. Do what works for you.
  6. Many people will say, “Welcome Home.” If it doesn’t feel like home for you, that’s ok – you’re not alone. Personally, it always feels a bit like a vacation. You can mention it or not – but however you react, be kind.
  7. Be gracious. You’re not better than people just because you know more about the world internationally. They know more than you about other things. Reach out – make a friend. 
  8. Be grateful when someone goes out of their way (and their comfort zone!) to show you around and be friendly. Make sure you thank them.
  9. Be curious and ask questions. Don’t feel stupid if you don’t understand something. Chances are, it might not even be a cultural thing – they might not get it either. If it is cultural – brush it off. You are prized by the King of Heaven, and you don’t need to feel insecure. 
  10. Don’t be so excited about the “commodities” that you forget about the people. 
  11. Remember, the trips to your passport country shouldn’t define your expectations of the country’s culture. These short trips don’t show you the true face of the country. Stay curious and open to learning. Don’t assume you know everything.
  12. Spend quality time with people and say good goodbyes. 
  13. Take that first step to say hello. I know what you’re thinking – because I’m thinking it too. I don’t know these people. They don’t understand me. If I say something, I’m going to mess up. 

Take that risk. Life’s most beautiful moments are found when we step outside of our comfort zones. What we often forget is that we TCKs are comfortable traveling the world and speaking foreign languages. Honestly, I’d rather talk to the immigrant elderly couple at church than the teens my age. And that’s good.

But my friend, we can’t live our lives like this. We pride ourselves on having a broad perspective and traveling the world, but sometimes we forget that people are people no matter where you go and that your home culture is just another culture waiting to be discovered. Sometimes we forget that although the Church is Christ’s international body, our home country’s church is a part of it. Sometimes we forget that the teen we are afraid of talking to is just as freaking scared to speak to us. 

So take that awkward first step. 

“There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?”

― Erin Hanson

Rest Triumphantly

“Do the next thing.”

It’s something I’ve heard my whole life. It’s a wise thought… that we need to keep on going, just looking at the task in front of us, taking the next step. It’s accurate and encouraging. 

But when the things I hoped in disappear, and plans fail, and relationships wane, and even the most constant parts of my life seem to step out of the scene… taking the next step is the last thing I want to do. 

I texted a loved one recently: 

“I’m just so tired of doing the next thing.”

It’s true. I’m so tired. I’m so weary of working my backside off and COVID and not seeing people and online classes.

And no one would blame me if I crawled into my bed and slept for days or binged TV or spent hours doing nothing. After all, as every single person in this world is saying, it’s been a year.

But we aren’t called to that.

As children of God, we are called to triumphant rest. 

We rest in the utmost ability of God to work all things for our good. We trust in His faithfulness. We rest because we know this daily battle has already been won. We are warriors on the winning side, and although the fight is furious, we don’t have to fear.

Jesus Christ holds all things together. (Colossians 1) 

He’s the head of the church, and he’s the Creator of all. He holds every star and ant and galaxy and whale in his power. Nothing comes together or apart without his consent. ‘For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.’ (Colossians 1:16). He’s holding your life together, your heart together, your broken pieces together. 

He’s holding you and every part of this beautiful, war-torn world together. 

And he’s going to make it all new.  

‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ‘

Revelation 21:1,3,5

If he’s making it new, we know he’s making us new too, and he’ll finish his work when the earth passes away. We can take the next step because we’re being renewed. He gives us hope as he grows us. 

So we rest triumphantly in the glory of what is to come and the truth of what is today. And we do the next thing, not because it’s easy or because we have the strength. We take the next step because Jesus is holding up the ground beneath our feet. He’s holding the air that we breathe. Jesus is holding it all together.