“You weren’t here,” or “It doesn’t matter because you won’t be here anyway.” Hearing comments like these when visiting home, trying to catch up with family and friends can be really stressful even if they weren’t saying it with any ill-intent. Being away from home, you’re bound to miss out on a lot of things. As someone who was always in-the-know (or at least tried to be) about family things or friend’s lives, having my curiosity and eagerness to know what’s been going on brushed off, it made me feel like an outsider or complete stranger. Although it wasn’t their intentions, I ended up feeling guilty for being away on the mission field, away from my family and friends.
Why did I come back? Should I not go back?
Is this really God’s plan for me? What went wrong?
I didn’t expect distance would have mattered to the closest relationships (family, best-friends) - I was always thinking of them, and I had hoped, they of me even if we didn’t communicate with each other as much as before. With the time difference and everyone’s busy schedule, it’s inevitable that we wouldn’t be able to communicate with or see each other as much as we had before when I lived on a college campus with them or at home with my family. But perhaps because the relationships are so close, they need that much more love and care, to get the assurance that it matters.
To have healthy and strong relationships, communication is key. I realized that before I left for the field, standards and expectations should have been established as far as communication. As much as I wish, I don’t have the superpower to read people’s minds so I shouldn’t expect others to have it either. Even if I am always thinking of them, it still needs to be communicated to them one way or another, but it also goes both ways. It was the first time my family and close friends were separated from me for such a long period of time, miles away, so both sides didn’t realize how much effort was needed to maintain the relationship.
Conversations and the habit of reaching out to one another (not just one side) has to be intentional and with an open heart. It should be a priority to maintain the relationships, even while out on the field as they were the ones who prayed and possibly helped send you out in the first place. It’s not easy and there has to be some vulnerability and time taken out as well, but in the long run, it is so worth because they are your support system and it will make it that much easier to transition back home in the future.