Sunday Lull

RainToday, there are no pictures.  Today, it rained all day.  Today, it was Sunday.

I’m going to be pretty honest about Sundays.  When I’m hosting, I hate Sundays.  I know that many other hosting families feel the same way.  I mean, I love being able to share part of my routine and my beliefs in a corporate way with my host child, but sometimes that routine can be quite overwhelming.

Imagine for a minute going into a large room of people who don’t speak your language, being asked to sit quietly, listen to music you don’t understand, and happily greet people over and over again who seem thrilled to meet you, but you don’t know and probably won’t ever see again.  And they all talk so fast.  In a store, the strangers around you speak, but you don’t have to listen.  Now, in church, all these strangers are talking TO you and you are expected to respond.  It is exhausting.

It’s no wonder Sunshine took a three hour nap when we got home.

Today was also the beginning of the second week of hosting.  And right on schedule, the difficulties have started to show up.

It makes sense, really.  The first week is getting used to the environment and feeling each other out.  The second week, reality sets in a bit.  This host family isn’t perfect.  Neither is this child.

And then there is the homesickness.

Today was a hard day.  Sunshine was quieter.  More removed.  She compared everything to her home country.  In her country, presents aren’t wrapped this way.  Children are expected to only give one gift to parents, so why is Little Man giving more than one?  It’s not right.  It’s silly to wrap up socks and boxes of tea for stockings.  Stupid gifts.

Oh, and it doesn’t rain in December in her country either.  It snows.  Stupid weather in America.

It is trying to continually ignore critical comments like this.  It is difficult to explain to my extended family why, when we are all having a nice time (including her), she abruptly turns to me and says, “We leave now?  I tired.”  I know that it is not rudeness.  It is a girl trying to orient herself in an unfamiliar world.

Just because she expresses displeasure does not mean she is displeased.  In fact, it’s possibly quite the opposite.  When she has had a life like she has, how does she have a paradigm for a family who sits around laughing over old photos and memories, who easily tease and cajole and enjoy their time together?  How does she process a home full of paintings, crafts, and achievements, beautifully and proudly displayed?  How does she understand this kind of love?

Displeasure and tiredness, maybe a little snarky rudeness, they are all ways to protect her heart.  They are safe ways to respond when presented with a life she has not known for some time, if ever.

I know that it is just a reactionary response to the ways she has been opening up.  She has revealed deeply personal things to me.  She brought my mom over to another host child at church and introduced her with a sweet giggle as “my grandmother.”  She has not called me mom, but has certainly intimated that I am the mother and she and Little Man are children together on more than one occasion.  She has expressed that she loves me.

These are big things.  Huge steps.

It is understandable that there would be a moment of hesitation, of fear that maybe she has trusted too easily.  Or perhaps I won’t say the things I have or act affectionately toward her if she is rude and difficult.  So she gives it a few pokes to see what will happen.

I get it.  But it is exhausting.

It is in times like these I wish I had a partner to do this with.  It’s hard to get a sense of reality when the things you do are being poo-pooed at each turn.  Did I maybe buy too many things for Christmas?  Should I really force her to wrap that present?  Is this a battle worth having?  Should I have stood my ground on that issue?  Do I pursue her or sit back and wait?

It is difficult to make these calls alone, to not have someone to bounce these thoughts around with.  It is difficult to not have break, a solid few hours to pay the bills or get pressing work-related tasks completed.  It is difficult to host alone.

It is difficult to host, period.

But I also see that I am being given a unique opportunity.  Sunshine doesn’t have a partner either.  She doesn’t have someone else to ground her in her own reality.  She is here by herself, doing the best she can, dealing with emotions that would be difficult to express even if we spoke the same language.

I have the blessing of understanding alone-ness, of empathizing with feelings of loss and fear.  My patience might be tried, but I know the pain underneath the testing and the picking.

And I also know that neither of us are alone.  Not really.  There is One who understands her heart even better than I do, and who understands mine intimately as well.  And I know that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Never respond with attitude or cutting words.

I don’t know if she knows that, though.

So I need to show her.  Church isn’t just that thing that we went to this morning.  God isn’t just a something out there, unrelated to the hurts and loneliness in our hearts.  He is among us.

And the best way to show her that is to love her.  Love despite complaints.  Love despite whining.  Love despite disengagement.  Because I don’t love to get things from her, or to feel good about myself.  I love because I was loved first.

And love I can do.

One thought on “Sunday Lull

  1. Beautifully expressed, by someone who knows how to love another.

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