Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Finding the Words

As I much to articulate my thoughts and process my experiences, there are so many times when don't have the concepts I need to describe things. It reminds me of a deaf lady I know. She hurt herself rather badly and was taken to hospital via ambulance. She told us that she had broken her ankle. In a visit with her later, it was apparent that her ankle was not broken. My friend, who interpreted for her told me later that she probably didn't have the words or or even concepts to express the nuances of her injury.

My toddler is at that stage where she has so much she wants to say, but she doesn't have the vocabulary or capability of fully expressing herself. This leads to a lot of frustration and fits on her part. I often find myself experiencing that same level of toddler bumbling, trying to articulate deep life-changing experiences. 

I feel a lot like my friend, hobbling along, unable to describe what I have experienced and how it changed me. When we returned to the United States after living in Sweden for 5 1/2 years, I had no idea how to process all our experiences and what returning to my home country would entail. Five years later and a chance encounter with a book about Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and I finally had words, concepts, and tools to explain my experience.

Reading the book, Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes, has given me concepts and tools to describe experiences I had living in the Middle East. In particular, they discuss the tension between individualism and collectivism or a community/family oriented society. Western culture (by that I mean the United States, Canada, and Europe) is much more focused on the needs, wants, and desires of the individual. We often hold the autonomy of that individual as paramount over the greater good of the society. In many Middle-Eastern and Eastern cultures, the good of the community is prioritized over the individual.

Reading this book has given me new ways of looking at my experiences as an expat--an eternal traveler with an insatiable craving to explore and understand.

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