After looking back ten years , I’ve come to an understanding that one-third of my life living in another culture has placed me between two worlds. Getting married a few years back was the first time to actually live in the United States and speak English as a main language in many years. Arriving in Mexico at age 19, really still a youth, and returning to the United States as a man brought forth a huge culture shock.
It’s funny looking back because I felt crazy to give up everything and move to Mexico without speaking a word of Spanish. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, but I knew it was the right step. There were challenges and times of great loneliness and a feeling of not belonging, but nothing compared to what awaited me back in the Freeway of life in the United States.
I lost friends and relationships which is normal after being gone for over 7 years, but what I didn’t expect was that I no longer belonged. I wasn’t Mexican, but my worldview and values had shifted, my way of communication and understanding, and even the ability to fully express myself in my native tongue seemed almost undoable. My culture shock, was coming home to the United States.
I can’t find the words to really explain it, but the joy that I had expected to await me upon my return seemed much more like being lost in an ocean of thoughts that had no answer. Nothing big enough to put my finger on it and call it by name, but there was a fracture within when the revelation hit me that I don’t belong. Neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. Lost between a world of the Politically Correct fighting for an American Dream while losing oneself in the lie of consumerism. Racism and (reverse racism) which is definitely not politically correct in a battle of study to get into a good school, go to a good school to get a good job, get a good job to work hard to pay off school (don’t let marriage or family ‘now undefined’ get in the way), and one day pay off student-loans and save to buy a house, car, and vacation, to one day retire and enjoy life while all too often it has already passed by; or worse it was all a front hidden behind Credit, nothing real, just a mask. This is an extreme view that isn’t complete or probably completely accurate, but it is what my eyes could see and they were overwhelmed and confused.
The other side was a war of Cartels. Blood, money, and power. “Why do today what I can do tomorrow”? Relationships as a first priority and work as an afterthought. Abuse, Matriarch Society and Machismo, but family matters. Drinking a life away, but loving today with no thought for tomorrow. Timely and accurate communication appearing to be an unknown principle and changing plans more then the thought of even planning. Offending with every wrong look or too honest choice of words and feeling lost in a world that appears to be hiding behind another mask.
Looking back it seems almost silly but two worlds separated by a river that might as well have been an ocean. The greatest challenge was yet to come. Despite facing a wall in returning Stateside, the bigger bridge to cross was driving back with my new wife. I had left the US as a young man finding a way in Mexico, returned to the Staes and understood who I was as a man and after 7 years, everything that never bothered me or I had even noticed kept me from seeing beyond. It seems like I had gone the wrong way, everyone coming North and we had moved South of the Boarder.
An island in an ocean without a Motherland to connect to, simply trying to find a way. Brokenness to find breakthrough, and being lost to be found. Coming Home to Mexico that would really never be home again. Nothing had changed, but me, something had shifted, the American Dream? No but a vail had been lifted, we were now stuck between.
A baby and a move to bring us into a new season and finally the answer seems to appear. Not where we come from, not what we have come to, but who He is. We aren’t from here (but our son is now Mexican being born here) and we don’t belong there (but we love and miss our family and friends daily), but we have created our own culture, our own family, our own dreams.
A citizenship from out of this World. Like a chameleon fitting in wherever we go, a glow on the face that shines for His glory and a fluid tongue whether in Spanish or English but now we know. We don’t belong, we are stuck between, but we are Home, together we are home!