When I cut my education at CBI short, there were are lot of things going on, that were part of my decision to leave, and I think I hoped, rather than believed, that I would be staying in Ireland for good. Many people have asked me "Why America? Why not just stay here and go to school?". Pretty legit questions really. I gave the usual answers; education is more broad in the States, there are more choices, I want to study the Bible alongside my major, and the best Bible colleges are in the States. While these were all factors in my decision, they were not the main reasons.
Leaving CBI, in the end, was not really a difficult decision to make. I owe the majority of my spiritual growth to that place, and while it was not an easy time for me (particularly my second year), it is a time that I will always treasure, and never regret. However, a combination of personal issues, changes and transition within the school itself, and uncertainty of my future, led me to leave SD and return to my own country for awhile.
I knew Ireland would be different from what I remembered. I had been gone for two years. I had changed, and the people at home had changed, friends had moved on to their own lives, dynamics within my own family had changed, the economy had collapsed (those of my friends from across the pond don't even know!), and a brutal recession had begun. In my heart I knew all this, but I had to see it for myself to really let the realization sink in. The realization that maybe, my future is no longer here.
Those of you, who have grown up on the mission field, know exactly what I am talking about when I say that, missionary kids (or kid missionaries as my Mom likes to call us) have no home. Even those who have been born into their mission field as I have. The majority of the time, we have no extended family to give us a sense of roots, we have people in another country who constantly ask us do we miss home (when we thought we were already living there!), and we also develop that "chameleon complex" that comes from being taught two (or more) codes of cultural behaviour within the home. I even have two accents!! I am, for all intents and purposes, a European (an Irish European in particular, yes there is a difference!). I've think like a European, I talk like a European, I've been educated on a steady diet of European history and language. As far as America is concerned, I have a number of amazing friends there thanks to my CBI days, most of my living extended family is there, I love peanut butter, and I really, really love coffee...and thats about it really! No particular feelings of attachment whatsoever!
If I was to identify with one country in the world, and call it mine, it would be Ireland! It's funny though, after all these years, growing up here, living here, and being here; there are still those times when I'm made to feel like a temporary visitor, like an outsider. Sometimes I think MKs understand the concept of earth being a temporary home, better than anybody else, because we don't really feel at home any where. We are never fully accepted in any country, and we never fully idenify with any particular place. DOn't get me wrong though, I loved growing up an MK. It definitely gives you a wider perspective of the world than your own back garden. Being so identified to one country can give you tunnel vision, and the idea that the way you do things is superior to other cultures. It has it's downsides, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
I definitely feel called into missions. Two years ago, I would have told you with all certainty that this would be in Ireland, now I'm not sure. Maybe this is why God called me home for a year; so that I might come to the realization that being in Ireland, and being considered Irish is not the centre of my universe. So that I might be enlightened to the possibility of living somewhere else in world. I will always have a special love for this country, but the idea of being part of another culture and another way of life is not so distressing to me as it once was. My identity is not tied up in what country I was born in, as an MK it never really was anyway. Rather my identity is in who I am in Christ. I don't need to "find myself" or find a place to call home. Where ever I am, if I am doing God's will, than I am home.
So, in a week I will say goodbye to my family, and my culture for the second time in my life. On to a new adventure! There is the feeling that this time, when I get on that plane, life as I've known it will never be the same; and there is a sadness to that. I want things to change, I am excited about it, but knowing that there is no going back, is so...final. My next chapter, is going to be even more exciting because it is completely my own; without my family, or the friends that I have had previously. Just me, and my Lord.
"Try as we might, happy as we were we cannot go back"