As one impatiently waits for their visas to be processed by the governing authorities of their home country, they most likely have no concept of all that lies ahead of them as they embark on this new great adventure of living abroad. The excitement of the times prevails, amidst the stresses of a myriad of decisions that should have been made yesterday and all the emotion of the goodbyes that will be said tomorrow.
This “Christian’s Survivor’s Guide to Successful Expat Living” contains only three items to check off the list. One might breathe a sigh of relief, since most lists they are currently contending with are pages long. But no worries … only three items are on this list and they can be easily read through. Yet, I hesitate to say to the anxiety-laden traveler that the items on this list actually might take years to complete.
#1. Before boarding that plane bound for adventure, make sure months in advance that you have obtained every document pertaining to your very existence in quadruplets. Marriage License; yours and your kids medical records; birth certificates; financial records going back several years; and even the possible verification of your current residency might be required. Most of these documents need to be notarized originals and will require a miniature current photo of you measured to the exact requirements. So, in order to check this item off your list, double check everything in your document file and smile often for the needed passport-sized photos. #detailsdetailsdetails
#2. Whereas, #1 needs to be completed prior to boarding the plane in order to avert any unwarranted stress, #2 is the trait of an Adventurous Spirit and you will need to take this with you as you leave the airport in your new country. Many people might think that they truly have a wanderlust for adventure as they watch an exciting travel program on TV in their favorite armchair at home. But, it could be a different story as reality starts to sink in and they see that living abroad is actually going to take some work on their part. So, in order to check this item off your list you will need to mentally prepare yourself that living in another country goes far beyond the instagram stories and photos. It will require work on your part to learn the language and the culture of this country. To live successfully in another country, one needs to have an adventurous spirit to try new things, experiment life with possibly a whole new food palette selection, and the fortitude to dig down deep when all you might want on a certain day is just to sit on a patch of luscious green grass, rather than the spiky brown weeds found in your yard that are growing on top of the hardest soil known to man! #notfortheweakofheart
#3. Warning: #3 will take years to complete and might never be fully achieved.
A huge dose of Humility is needed to complete this “Christian’s Survivor’s Guide to Successful Expat Living.” One might state that this is a very unusual requirement to live successfully in another country, when so many other items could be placed on this list. But in fact, IF this trait is NOT exhibited or sought after (beginning with your descent down the airplane steps) then I might boldly predict that your time within your adopted country will not be pleasant for yourself or for those around you and that it will not be truly successful.
In order to live successfully in another country, one needs to realize that it requires them to be a learner, because life now will NOT be working the same way that they had experienced in their home country. In order to successfully survive, one needs to DAILY realize that sometime within that very day, they will have communicated something incorrectly or stood in the wrong line, or offended their neighbor unknowingly and that they might need to quickly backpedal out of an embarrassing situation.
Living life abroad requires humility to survive and to survive well. It requires the person to stop, to look, and to listen to the cultures around them. It requires them to put the way others do things (or to NOT do things) first. For example, if you come from an individualistic society and are now living in a group-oriented society, it might drive you crazy that everyone goes to the same toll booth when there are three lanes completely open! OR that your adopted country’s spacial closeness is WAY to close for your own personal comfort! So, in order to check this item off your list you will need to realize that to live successfully in another country you will need humility to adjust and to live well. #humblenessbeforepride
Maybe #3’s quality of Humility is just a quality that is needed everywhere, whether you move abroad or not? For societies to stop, to look, and to listen to one another and to exhibit humility and gentleness is something that the Apostle Paul wrote about to the new Christians in Colossae. He encouraged his brothers and sisters in the faith to clothe themselves with several qualities as they interacted with one another in order that harmony would be achieved and that God would be glorified through it all.
So if you are boarding a plane to some far-flung destination or walking across your street in your own neighborhood and you claim the name of Christ, may your humbleness and gentleness of spirit be seen by all so that Christ would be glorified. … and as a piece of advice? Even if you remain in your own home country, it just wouldn’t hurt to have all those documents in quadruplets. Who knows when you might need them?
Wife, mother, teacher & friend who loves to "do life" alongside others as we journey together in seeking to know God more fully and deeply. Feel free to join with us as walk through a few "French fields" ...
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