I’ve forgotten how to merge

I remember my first “merging” lesson with my driving instructor. I was on I-495 (the beltway) and it was rather busy. The instructor told me to merge. I think I literally held my breath and when I proceeded, I did it all wrong! She told me to get off the beltway! I was happy to do so, I think my heart was thumping so quickly it would beat out of my chest. Well, you can’t get away with living in the DC area and not learn how to merge well. Eventually merging became easy and second nature. Well, after barely driving in Belize and having no merging lanes for three and a half years, when I faced my first “merge” just two weeks ago it was an epic fail. Someone was merging on to the highway and I literally stopped my car as if there was a stop sign in the middle of a 70 mph highway. My mom was stunned and I was confused. What just happened? I had forgotten how to merge.

It is the same I think for some of us missionaries that return from the field. After FINALLY learning how to merge in a foreign country we are taken out of that country and put back into our “homeland”, only we have forgotten how to merge there, and it does not feel “homey”, it feels….weird. Here we are not really Belizean but not fully American anymore. Something has changed and now we must relearn how to merge, and we must learn how to do it, merging is important-it’s how traffic on a busy highway keeps flowing.

For almost four years of our lives we have been under a tremendous amount of stress, and within that stress, God has taught us some amazing things. We are not walking away unchanged. We are CHANGED from the inside out. Every heartache, tear, laughter, birth, disaster, triumph, disagreement, and understanding has been used by God to conform us more into His image. We will never be the same and we don’t want to. Imagine leaving the states one way but returning a different person. The way we navigated the USA before may not be the way we want to navigate it now, so we have to relearn some things.

We left as a couple with one 12 month old and we are returning as parents of three young children. We never really had an opportunity to be parents in the United States; MOPS, library reading time, taking the kids to the park, are ALL NEW. I find myself thinking, “What do I do? How do I act?” Then those thoughts sound so silly. I am an American in the USA! This is my culture. Even so, we have spent the last 3.5 years learning a new culture, learning how to say things in a different way, learning how to approach people differently than what we would in the USA, so we come home and you can see why we may feel disoriented at times. In some ways I feel we left as young adults and we have come back and graduated to just “Adults”. We survived a foreign country and lived to tell about it! Not to mention the fact that we kept three kids alive there as well! Ha!

On top of the old merging lanes that we have to relearn there is a new merging lane. Malachi. The only way I can adequately describe what is happening in my heart is this way: I see two people when I look at myself in regards to Malachi’s diagnosis. I see a confident woman who has to explain what is going on with him to almost everyone I meet. I see her calmly explaining his disability. I see her going from appointment to appointment, doing what she has to to get things done. But the other “me” is standing next to that confident woman and she is not strong or confident at all. She is doing what that confident woman really wants to do: sitting down, head buried in her hands, crying. Every time I speak of Malachi calmly, every time I see a “normal” baby, that is what I want to do and how I see myself… crying. Mostly because it is so overwhelming. I don’t mind talking about Malachi, and I do love seeing the other kids, but, this is where I am at right now. I am NOT hopeless, but I am still mourning and I don’t know when it will end. So I find myself not only “reentering” the USA, but also learning a new language and a new culture of having a disabled child.

What I know for sure is that my hope is in the Lord and that hope will not disappoint. We have witnessed so many miracles in Belize that know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord will take care of us. I know He will guard my heart in all these things I am feeling right now. I know He will continue to be with Evangeline and Ellis as they continue to adjust. I know things will get easier because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

We are so grateful to all those who are making our reentry and merging process much smoother. We ask for your continued prayers.

8 thoughts on “I’ve forgotten how to merge

  1. Joy Smith

    Hi Mel this is Joy, I can totally relate to your adjustment of the world of having a child with a disability. it is not an easy road but I can tell you from experience Your Heavenly Father will get you through it all safely to the other side. My son is now 29 and we have been through a lot with him . If y9ou ever need to just talk call me. Number is 2533500005.

  2. Darlene

    Mel, thanks for sharing your heart with us. As mothers, we do understand, even if we don’t have the same situation as you have. You will certainly be a testimony for others as you keep your faith strong in the Love, even when it’s hard. It’s okay to cry & God hears your heart. He knows your pain & yet we know He will bring joy in the morning.

  3. Donna Chapman

    Once again you blow me away with your honest, vulnerable writing! Going away next week but then girl we are going to The Rooster together ๐Ÿ™‚

    DC Girl2
    PS Fortunately the Beltway wasn’t invented when I took driving lessons in DC…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Katy Short

    Remembering to give God praise for who He is and all His attributes will help you not to be “under the circumstances”. May God give your the grace to get out from “under the circumstances”, and live in His abundance. I haven’t forgotten you all.

  5. Maureen Read

    Mel, grief goes on a long time. Our little girl died at age 4. It takes a long time to recover. And that was a “clean” sorrow. She was gone. Your little guy is with you, and will be, an ongoing care and love and grief, wondering about his future, your future.
    Cause me to know the way I should walk, for I lift up my soul to Thee. From Ps 143.
    Love, Maureen

  6. Jeff MacLurg

    What a great word you have written here, Mel! Thank you for expressing all that you did so incredibly well in this piece.

  7. Karyn White

    Thanks for sharing. This is a stressful time for you–just having three little ones is stress enough! ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you know God is with you and will be your strength. Praying for you all.


  8. CynthiaColson

    This was beautifully written – so honest and heartfelt!. I know we are just getting to know each other, but I feel like this blog post was speaking right at me. We have had very different experiences in that we are not missionaries and do not have a child with sweet Malachi’s diagnosis, but Joey and I went through a period of time in our lives that was very dark and very difficult and I totally understand and “get” the whole description of feeling like 2 different people -the strong one everyone sees and the one crumbling on the inside. I’m praying for all of you, and that the “merge” will go easily as you settle into life as “American parents” and that God will send victories and amazing physicians to help Malachi.

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