Tomorrow is Eight Years

Eight years ago today we were boarding a plane, venturing to a new life in France. Tomorrow officially marks year eight! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long – at times it feels like the events of the last decade blur together and we arrived here a year ago. Other times it feels like living in Minneapolis was a lifetime ago. Feeling a little reflective today, so buckle up if you’d like to hear more.

Being an immigrant is not for the faint of heart. It is traumatic. It can wreck you. It can cause you to question all that you are and all that you believe. But it can be incredibly beautiful. It will definitely be life changing. It’s done all of these things to me. I’m a better person for it, and am becoming a better person still. Simple, mundane tasks have brought about more challenges, heartache, and anxiety than I ever could have experienced in my home country. Conversely, I have never been more proud to accomplish those simple, mundane tasks (in a foreign language, land, and culture). 

In being an immigrant, we’ve experienced and endured a lot of pain and loss. A lot. More than I could have ever anticipated. If you would have told me the amount we’d experience prior to moving, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you. It’s an amount that doesn’t even make sense. An amount that would break someone. And truthfully it almost has. I don’t really expect it to stop, either. I believe it’s just part of this life. And that’s okay. But even in the midst of pain and loss there has been beauty. Growth. Unexpected hope. A certainty in being here. A joy in the simplicity. It has been rewarding to carve out a life here that reflects my values and what I care about. I dare say, it’s been easier to do that in a completely new place. Finding rhythms that are in line with your beliefs. Being intentional with your time and capacities. Not easily falling into the traps of what is culturally expected. Not holding on to the routines that once governed your time.

Being an immigrant has completely changed my outlook on life, love, and God – and all for the better. Of course everything I’m saying here can have an exception. You can choose to remain the same, fight growth, ignore the changes, or judge the differences as ‘wrong.’ But you can also embrace the change. Welcome the differences. Seek them. Invite new experiences and new interactions to shape your outlook and your life going forward. I’ve long held the belief that change, growth, movement, is good. If we aren’t challenging who we are, or used to be (even if it was a good place), we get stagnant, judgmental, and ultimately become unloving. Being an immigrant causes you to see the ‘other’ in new ways. Everywhere I go in France, I am the Other. Seeing this can cause you to open yourself up to love in new ways, and advocate for those hurting like you never would have before. 

Moving into the next day, year, eight years – I will continue to seek growth, change, and new ways to love others. It is a life-long process I’ll never arrive at or be done with, and I look forward to it. I look forward to seeing where life takes me, and us, in the next couple years as Paul and I approach the ten-year mark in France, and beyond. I look forward to not being the same person I am today, and being miles from the person I was a decade ago. I’m currently working on my MTh (and/or PhD). I love how it also challenges the way I see the world, and how it helps to make sense of how others do as well. Understanding and interpreting the world in new ways to hopefully bring just a little more love into the spaces I touch.

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