We’ve spent more time back in the States these last months than we have in the last two years. And having just celebrated Memorial Day, and approaching the 4th of July, I wanted to put down some thoughts about what you experience as an American who moves out of the country…
This strange thing happens when you move to another country that is different than moving to a new city, state or region (all of which, we’ve done). You at once feel less American, and more American.
You become less American because America is no longer the geographic location of home. Because you have chosen to separate yourself by an ocean of distance, culture, rhythms and lifestyle. You are given a unique vantage point as an insider (American), to become an outsider (Ex-Pat) and look in at the values and movement of what was once just normalcy. And in some ways, it feels like with these new eyes, even if you were to return permanently to make America your geographic home, it will always be a bit different than before.
You become more American because it is no longer the geographic location of home. Because absence makes the heart grow fonder across that ocean of distance, culture, rhythms and lifestyle. Because you have fresh eyes of affection for the familiarity of a life and country that you never realized have truly been woven into the DNA of how you function, relate, interact, and understand others and the world around you.
We have learned so much about culture over the last two years, American culture, British culture, and Scouse culture. But what continues to become more evident for followers of Christ: culture may help to explain us, but it does not define us. The Gospel defines us, Scripture defines us, Christ defines us.
And while I am incredibly grateful to be an American (I have burst into tears more often hearing our National Anthem sung, seeing our military serve, and witnessing all of the opportunities we have been uniquely blessed by to be from this country, and purchased more American flag memorabilia in the last four months than I have my whole life); I am even more grateful to be grafted into a covenant community of God’s family that redeems and transforms culture.
We are all at once, less American, and more American.
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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