I am a missionary kid. MK's are not like other children. We see things that kids our age and older may never see- abject poverty, people who are hurting in almost every way imaginable, and religious/nationalistic prejudice against other Christians/Americans, our families, and ourselves. We have counseled people younger and older than we are and know when our family's funds are a little short in any particular month. From very young ages, we are forced to grow up.
When we go back to our mother countries, people flock around us. (It can be overwhelming to go from servant to rock star overnight.) They ask all kinds of questions that we gladly respond to with half answers because deep down we know what it is they want to hear. They want the funny stories and the adventure. But the one thing they don't want to address is the emotional toll that seeing the world like that has taken. They don't know how to help or deal with it. But it's okay: we don't either.
People expect a lot from you when you're a missionary's kid. The adults all want you to be perfect examples of Jesus to their children and to always be on your best behavior. The other kids just want you to be a source of entertainment. The first places more pressure on an already pressured kid, but the second can be even worse. We don't want to entertain you- we already did that for the native kids. We don't want to be laughed at for not understanding your slang because we already know we are behind the cultural curve. You don't need to rub it in. We just want to be your friend.
And through all of that, we go to church service after church service, listen to our parents give you the same presentation they gave the last fifty times, meet yet another hundred people we know we will never be able to remember even if we want to, and allow ourselves to get attached to you even if it's just for the day. But you know what? It's okay. Because we really do appreciate you. We see how much you care about what our parents are doing in another country. We see how much love you put into your special meatloaf. We see that, behind your kids' jokes and the craziness, they just want us to like them. We see the pain and joy that you try to hide but almost imperceptibly flickers in your eyes. Because that's what we were raised to do: to love people. To help them. We can't switch it off.
From what I've heard, many MK's follow in their parents' footsteps. Others settle down and start families. And then there are those of us who can't seem to find a direction. To the outsider, we look like we're lost and just spinning our wheels. Well, guess what? We are lost. We can't find a direction. We're so conflicted between the two worlds of our birth and our ministry, that when we try to choose one or the other, we don't seem to fit. We bump about, trying different things, getting one job, then another, but we're like square pegs in a round hole. I truly believe that for us who experience this, we understand better than anyone what the Bible means when it says that we are not of this world; we were made for a heavenly country. Unfortunately, until then we have to live here on earth. We have to fight through the uncomfortable fit to find a place that's a little more comfortable.
If you ever find yourself wondering what on earth we are doing with our lives, think on what I've just told you. If deep down you think we should be moving on, leaving our families, finding spouses, think about this: how can we move on from something that makes us who we are? How can we figure out what we want to do with our lives when our lives have been spent pouring ourselves into others? How can we let go of the only people who know exactly what we've been through? And how can we explain the depth of our experiences and who we are to another person, when we can't even explain it to ourselves? Please, don't think that I am trying to make excuses for not moving on with our lives. Just know this: we missionary kids are doing the best that we can. Isn't that enough?
So thank you to all of those who show us that we are loved and wanted. Just by taking the time to listen to our rambling and pray for us, you minister to our souls. And you mean more to a MK than you will ever know.