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  • Writer's pictureKristen Hepner

Inappropriate Giggles and Tears

It was an inappropriate time to start giggling, but our weary bodies couldn’t resist the urge. The previous 24 hours of the hurry up and wait, the run and then sit, the anxiety and excitement of traveling should have been the trigger for the delirium, but it was the over-the-top unfamiliarity of a familiar place that did the trick.

We have a tradition to eat at a certain restaurant when we arrive stateside, and this time didn’t disappoint. As we sat down with those who had excitedly greeted us at the airport, the cute little waitress with a big smile and braids in her hair welcomed us with such excitement, volume, and exuberance that the overwhelmed giggles and knowing looks of “where are we?” came to both me and Josh. The nervous laughter of feeling so out of place came to our daughter in the form of tears. And we understood her heart in that moment, we knew.

How is it that a place that we can blend in so well, the place that we came from, the place of our sending can feel so foreign? We know the language, the people, the food. The heavy southern accent is the same one that we have heard and copied since our formative years. The cuisine is the one we have worked so hard to copy in a foreign place, just to make us feel a little more at home. It’s the place that we lived and worked and grew and loved for the first 25 years of our lives, yet now it feels different. Or maybe it is just us that are different.

To be honest, my feelings irritate me and I don’t fully understand why. I want to feel at home, like I belong, and maybe one day I will. But for now, I feel exactly like a hidden immigrant, a term that Abby has found. Out of place in our own home, hidden among those who would never understand the dividedness of our hearts.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for the knowing looks that are passed between us Hepner’s that “get it”. We have so many steep learning curves ahead of us, yet it is exciting to launch on this new adventure.

God always has a way of pulling our gaze towards Him and towards our home in Heaven and this is what I am thinking of this morning. This world is not our home. We are all truly sojourners on the path to our Home in Heaven. I think it is a beautiful reminder to not get too settled anywhere other than in the heart of Jesus. He is our home.

So today, I go back to the truth that the Father is relentlessly etching into my heart. “Kristen, you do today…and let Me do tomorrow,” and this morning, I sense an adding to the message, “and be grateful.”

Positioning my heart to completely trust Him for my tomorrows is my place of rest. I have found it. While my wandering heart often strays, I have tasted the beauty of His promise of perfect peace and will return over and over. Gratitude is something that I take for granted, but am realizing that it will bring me to a place of contented joy.

There are no telling how many times reverse cultural shock will cause the tears to come, or the inappropriate giggles, but we are going to embrace this season of learning. And Lord willing, we will do it with abandoned trust and joyful gratitude.


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