Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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The 7th Month Slump

I miss people.

I miss writing. I miss productivity. I miss Velveeta and Rotel dip.

And sausage. And cornbread. And fountain drinks.

I miss Southern drawls. I miss driving laws. I miss Hobby Lobby.

They told me this would happen. That I would hit a wall of inexplicable frustration and the rainbows and sunshine would no longer hover over my world in Southeast Asia.

They told me that I would feel overwhelmingly tired. That I would no longer think the best in people I met on the street. That I would switch between wanting to stay in bed all day and wanting to beat my head against a concrete wall.

They said it would happen after I’d been overseas for 6-7 months.

Hey, Month 7, I see you.

I see you on my bedroom ceiling as I force my head out from under the covers.
I see you in today’s fourth cup of coffee.
I see you in the mounds of paperwork piling up, unfinished on my desk.

Culture shock. Culture fatigue. Culture stress. Culture rub.

Yeah, you’re all over me, culture.

And if it weren’t for a gracious husband, a lovely daughter, and an incredible community surrounding me from across the globe, you might just be beating me.

It’s not that I’m angry. It’s not that I’m defeated.

I’m just at a point of feeling—shall I say—well, meh about life.
The more I learn this language, the more I realize what I can’t say.
The more I interact with local society, the more I realize I don’t fit in.

The more I pursue opportunities to Teach, the more I realize this is no short task.

7th month slump

Don’t worry, I knew this was coming. But no amount of cross-cultural orientation can protect you from the dynamics of cross-cultural adaptation.

You have to go through it. You have to live it and breathe it. You have to have a personal encounter with it.

It’s like I’ve been running a race since March, with this hurdle getting closer and closer. I’ve expected it. I’ve anticipated how I would tackle it.

But now, instead of gracefully launching my body over the thing, I’m planted in front of it with my arms flailing in annoyance as I say, Did you REALLY have to come and get all up in my business???

Yeah, culture shock, I’m talking to you.

We were doing great, Asia and me. Pho noodles and me. Terrible heat and me.

And you, YOU…you had to come and interrupt us, didn’t you?

>>><<<

This is me in my current state. My love affair with *trying new things* has come to an end.

I’m making a lot of mashed potatoes and watching a lot of Parenthood. I’m jacking up our electric bill from the excessive use of our air-con.

I’m also finding hope in the fact that this is a phase. I’ll be all right. And in a few short months, this place may even feel like home.

My precious friends, your generous donations are not wasted. Your prayers are not in vain. My family is here for the long haul, and we can rejoice in this milestone.

As soon as we get down on ourselves for giving into the crushing fatigue, we recognize that there’s still no part of us that regrets this decision.

The past two Sundays, I have sung I Surrender All with a gloriously ruined chorus of voices. And oh the tears that streamed down my face both times.

In times of sorrow, frustration, confusion, and pain, my heart is ripped open and my faith truly exposed.

The raw, imperfect, honest parts of my being are so sensitive and so tender, and these are the times when my worship is unabashed.

Shameless. Bold. Unrestricted.

I would live this season over and over and over again if I could forever worship like this.

The Father is truly the Lifter of my head. And that’s all I need for today.

Comments

comments

Deena TrimbleNovember 13, 2014 - 2:55 pm

Hi Lauren. I just came home from a bible study about Gideon. When God called Gideon in Judges 6:12, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon said he was from the smallest tribe and weakest family, yet God saw him differently. V 14, go in the strength you have. V16, I will be with you…..read back through this short story. God told him he had everything he needed. Even in his weaknesses, God’s strengths are perfected!
7 months is about all the strength you had. Now it is time to let God work a miracle in you and through you. Go forward in the strength of the Lord.
V16 I WILL BE WITH YOU.

SaraNovember 14, 2014 - 12:59 am

Lauren. I could have written this exact post. I have felt everything, EV.’RY.THING that you wrote here, multiple times. (It seems to go in 6 month cycles for me.) I want to reach out to you. If Skype-ing with internet acquaintances is your thing, please let me know. I would be so happy to be able to just listen and say, “YES!” throughout whatever needs to come out of your mouth at the moment. I’ve found it so hard to adequately express to friends and family who haven’t experienced this what I really mean when I say, “I’m tired of everything in Japan. I’m tired of everyone in Japan.” Please let me know if you need someone to listen without jumping to conclusions about your mental state or your ability to serve! 😀 My heart has been reaching out to you, reading your words these past two weeks. It’s completely normal, but nothing I would ever wish on someone! Blessings to you.

lmpinkston@gmail.comNovember 14, 2014 - 9:44 pm

Deena, I so appreciated these words! I look forward to spending some time in these verses. You are such an encourager!

lmpinkston@gmail.comNovember 14, 2014 - 9:46 pm

Sara, I’m so thankful for our connection and I don’t consider you a stranger at all!! I was really interested in what you said on Insta about feeling the culture shock so much more the second time around when you studied language. I’ve been playing that over and over in my head. I really can’t put a price on being able to float my thoughts, feelings, and experiences out there and having people who understand write back with their own common stories. You are such a blessing!

lisaNovember 15, 2014 - 7:52 am

hi lauren. just wanted to let you know, i feel you! i know how you feel. after almost three and a half years it still annoyed me that today at a store they had to type in every number on a barcode (even though there is a barcode to scan… i don’t get how the inefficiency doesn’t bother anyone else!). anyways, i just wanted to let you know i feel you. and i also feel you when you say express the nearness of God. we’ve been through a tough year and i felt like God said, “i have brought you here to love you.” so even if i never accomplish a single thing to be proud of here, i will know that i have a father in heaven who deeply loves me, in a way that i would not have been able to comprehend had i stayed where in the states. we can be thankful we have a God who understands, feels with us and is our refuge of love in the storm. praying for you during this season of wanting to throw all things cross culture against the wall. :) and, velveeta and rotel can be mailed… we just ate some this week! :)