I have found that kids are flexible, but they have feelings. Most days, my daughter doesn’t know where we are and doesn’t care. She plays with her Nepali nanny, watches her shows, and terrorizes her brother. From any perspective, she has adjusted well. While she doesn’t often mention missing her grandparents or friends in America, she hasn’t been unaffected by boredom and loneliness. She even worries about everyone hating her, noting how the few kids she knows shoo her away with stuck out tongues.
We can’t make kids her age materialize out of thin air. Should we get her a dog (something we swore we would NEVER do)? Send her to school? Put her in an extra-curricular class? There is no obvious solution, and due to the blockade, doing any of these things at the moment is impossible.
We can’t protect her from all the hurt in this world. While it is difficult, she needs to learn that people can be mean, but we need to love them like Jesus. “Not everyone will like you, baby, and that’s ok. We are different here. We are here to tell people about Jesus, and some people don’t like that.” She nods like she understands.
It is hard not to feel like we have stripped her of her friends and all the fun experiences in America. I flash back to weeping on the plane looking at my sweet sleeping babe. “She doesn’t even know that her little world is about to turn upside down.”
I am thankful for her flexibility, and praise God for the good days. On the trying days, I beg Him for wisdom. These missionary and mommy worlds often collide, and my daughter is found in the debris. I can shield and protect her, keep her to myself, and never let her experience this country. Or I can allow these experiences, however painful, to shape and mold her into who God wants her to be.
I pray that we can point her to Christ, and that she will trust Him with her life. For then, she will have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. For now, I pray that He will make me a good steward of her sometimes fragile feelings. To use her flexibility to her advantage to fall in love with this country and these wonderful people. To teach her to use her feelings to sympathize with the hurting and lead others to the great Comforter. I can already tell I’m gonna be on my knees a lot over this girl!
Have you dealt with loneliness with your children?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!