Letter to a returning missionary

Dear Friend,
Welcome home! It’s so good to have you back safe and sound. So now what do you do, right? That is the $64,000 question.

First thing, be kind to yourself. Things here have changed. People have moved on or even stayed the same. You’re a different person now. Things that were important to you, don’t seem so important now. But they may still be important to the folks you left behind.

Upon coming home this time, I didn’t struggle so much with material things as I did with feeling disconnected. I think I changed more than the folks I left behind. I had a hard time sorting that out. How do you go back to talking about entertainment news when you’ve just spent x amount of time loving people who have a completely different way of living, working, and socializing?

Don’t be surprised if you cry. A lot. I went through a grieving process. Saying goodbye to so many folks I loved was so painful. I found myself constantly looking back, longing for the days of old. Thankfully, I had a job, friends, and family to pull me back into the present.

One thing that helped me was to lay low. I didn’t completely retreat from society or friends, but I pulled back very far. I spent a solid 6 months being mostly solitary and quiet. I didn’t even go to church really. I just didn’t have it in me. I’m grateful for technology because it allowed me to watch church from the safety of my little home.

Ten days before Easter, the church I called my church lost the senior pastor to “moral failure.” Many folks were devastated. I was not devastated. I wasn’t even surprised really. All of a sudden, I realized people are people, for better or worse. Just because you’re Christian doesn’t guarantee everyone will be good or moral or kind.

And it hit me. I don’t need to be destroyed by what other people do to me, or my perception of what they do to me. I don’t need the church to have a strong relationship with God, I just need God. All the same, I finally wanted to go back to church. There’s something about corporate worship that is good for my soul.

I started going to church again on Easter. I’m in a new church. Nobody knows me there. Yet. It’s refreshing. I’m not trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. After a long winter in my soul, I feel alive again. 😊

When it comes to re-entry, I think the process is very individual. I can’t tell you when you’re going to feel okay again, but I can tell you with God you will feel okay again.

My new normal isn’t completely formed yet, but it’s definitely well on its way.

Give it time. You’ll get there. If I can get there, anyone can get there! I’m praying for you to have perfect peace. Know that you are not alone.

His… Michelle

Linking with Kelli @Chronicles of Grace for Unforced Rhythyms and @Salt and Light.



6 thoughts on “Letter to a returning missionary

  1. You remind me of Kelli Woodford…only a brunette version! Still praying specifically for your next mission. Will pray God opens doors for your church to show some supports! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  2. What an honest and important post. Thank you for sharing your story, Michelle. Even though I’ve never been a missionary, I certainly related to a lot of your wisdom. Life lessons here.

    So glad to see you at Unforced Rhythms!

  3. Hey, Micey!
    As always, your honesty and obvious love for Jesus is quite an encouragement to me. The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. Of that we can be sure. What a friend we have in Jesus! He stays close in all the seasons of our lives. Even when we are unsure of ourselves we can be sure of Him. Blessings to you!
    Love, Terrie
    PS LOVE the picture of you!

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