Feeling Emotional During Transition - What another move feels like

Feeling Emotional During Transition

Feeling emotional can truly take you by surprise.

The moment you are sitting there and find yourself saying, “I don’t even know why I’m crying!”

Or, for me just yesterday, saying, “I didn’t mean to cry about this!”

Feeling emotional

It is just part of life.

It is an even bigger part of transition. Throw in multiple transitions in a few short years and you have feelings and emotions galore.

Expat, overseas, missionary life is complicated with how many feelings and emotions we can experience in a short amount of time, especially during transition.

Feeling Emotional During Transition - What another move feels like

There is a mental game that happens with going, with transition, with change.

A mental game so full of feeling emotional that there are times I don’t know how to even put into words the emotions building inside me.

Fear – This one is at the top. For me, it isn’t a “shaking in my boots” fear. It is a low, deep understanding that I have no control over what is coming. Fear of the unknown, fear of what I can’t see, fear of what we are facing…

Wonder – I sit in awe sometimes at what we are doing, how we are living, the things we see and experience. The wonder is real. And amazing. The world is beautiful and incredible and teeming with life, love, joy and creativity.

Worry – This emotion is different than fear because where fear is deep inside me, worry gets expressed in my hurried days, my scramble for organization, my insistence that this or that happen in this or that way. Worry effects the day-to-day.

Insecurity – With the very ground shifting beneath our feet so quickly, it is hard to keep tabs on our security. This is everything from our safety and our health to the unstable world we find ourselves in. This covers relationships on the field, relationships at home, and relationship with God. Realizing that the time is coming again when you need to stand before a group of people and share what is on your heart. Knowing that you must step back into a world you either left before or have never seen before. Insecurity is multifaceted and truly wraps itself around us in complicated ways.

Strength – There is an intense amount of strength that I feel building inside my heart. With each new transition and challenge, that strength grows. New skills, greater ability. Climbing mountains of survival each day forces a kind of inner strength that I did not know I was capable of and will still need years to achieve. But I feel it coming…

*I wrote more about this strength on Grit&Virtue. You can read that here.

Excitement – In this life, there is ALWAYS something to look forward to. Always. A trip to see family, a neighbor asking a question about Jesus, a new American product find at some tucked away butik. We get excited about things big and small. We rejoice and celebrate the end of every day. The tiny accomplishment of finding the post office in the bowels of the market or finally getting that water bill paid. Excitement for life, for experiences and moments. Looking ahead while living in the present, always knowing that change is coming soon.

Sadness – Honestly, I could easily write depression here. I truly believe that this is an attack of Satan on the lives and hearts of those serving overseas. In the deepest ways I’ve ever seen or known. A sadness so strong and compelling. A roller-coaster, up and down of emotions so deep and gripping that happiness and sadness can actually flow evenly together. This is hard to describe. This is hard to write. But this sadness greatly impacts missionaries and those working overseas in powerful, daily ways. During transition it is a profound sadness. Saying goodbye. again.

Disappointment – Through every single day, disappointment rages. From a brand new pair of running shoes only lasting through 3 runs because of the heat/humidity to finding out something happened in a relationship that changes everything to going to bank after bank with no money to be found to getting to the grocery store and they no longer carry this one thing your family likes. Every layer of our lives is effected by disappointment. In people, in friends, in life, in culture. The disappointment carries full weight each day. Expectations go unmet. Dreams go unfulfilled. Change is out of your control.









I could just keep going.

Feeling emotional in all of these ways really is a huge, amazingly powerful part of overseas life.

Even those of us who aren’t overly emotional will have crazy emotional days.

Yes, even the most even-keeled of missionaries will find themselves feeling emotional in areas of their lives that they never experienced before.

When transition comes around again, prepping for furlough or moving, feeling emotional is an inescapable part of life.

What am I learning about these emotions? What can we do when we are feeling emotional?

1} Find out if you need time away.

2} Find out how to handle stress for you and your family.

3} Spend time with Jesus even if it is messy and not how you want it to look. You need HIM to help you overcome the chaos these feelings stir up within us. Only He can keep fear, stress, worry and disappointment from disabling us and keeping us from the great task ahead. Turn to Him.

4} Be sure to laugh. Sit around your computer and watch these videos with your family. Play a game. Camp on your roof. Do something fun.

5} Find ways to be encouraged. Speak truth to yourself.

6} Make some great coffee and invite a friend over to chat. Take a pause, eat a cookie, refresh, relax.

7} Stay organized and motivated even when the emotions are overwhelming.

8} Pray. Every day. Even when you don’t know what to pray. Pray.

9} Learn to let your heart rest. Give it to Jesus. For real. And don’t take it back again.

10} Remember that feeling emotional is normal in transition. Completely normal. Take a deep breath and keep going.

When transition is coming, or even just in the daily overseas life, remember these things.

Feeling Emotional During Transition - What another move feels like

Remember to realize and recognize the emotions.

See them for what they are. Give yourself grace. Lay it at the feet of Jesus.

Then listen to this song {on repeat} by Kirk Franklin. Because my world needs Jesus right now, does yours?

Power fall down
Bring with it a sound
That points us to you right now
Erase substitutes right now
Fix what I see
And God please fix me
My world needs you right now
Let us see you right now

{full lyrics here}

What do you do when you are feeling emotional?



  1. This is nice to read, I notice myself feeling some of these things even though us leaving is still likely a few years off. Then I wonder if I express my fears (in addition to my excitement) that maybe they will think I’m not ready and to keep working on myself until I can get these negative emotions under control. In reality there is more positive than negative, but I’m a mom and it’s hard to not worry that uprooting my kids will ruin them. Oh well, it just gives me something specific to pray about in the meantime. On that note, do you have any resources, books, podcasts, whatever, to help on the preparing to go end, especially as a mom?

    1. Hi Carina!! I’m so glad that you said hello and shared your story! Yes, there are so many emotions at every part of this missions journey. I get the mom thing too… yes to all the things you mentioned. Here are a list of resources here on my blog https://ourgoodwinjourney.com/resources/

      Also, check out velvetashes.com and Taking Route Podcast! You’ll find so much help and encouragement!

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    We have been in the Dominican Republic for 10 months now, and EVERY DAY have felt some kind of disappointment. You put into words what my mind and heart have been trying to process. Your practical ideas were very helpful. I always look forward to getting your blog! You are a wise woman!

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. The amount of daily disappointment and new realities of life on the field are great. Glad we can all journey this together!

  3. I love this blog post! It’s so practical and so real. I could have written all those feelings, except that I’m not good at verbalising all that I feel, so I thank you that YOU have done it for me. I have just come back to Australia with my family, about 5 months ago, with 3 months left before we head back to Thailand.

    Thankfully I have moved, somewhat, out of that chaotic feeling, and have gotten to the enjoyment and engagement stage where I feel I have the emotional energy to put IN to others, not just be on the receiving end. Since we have been doing this for 10 years now, I have been able to learn more about myself, and as I feel and make decisions about certain things, I can objectively see that I am moving on, making progress. I have made similar progressions on previous Home assignments too, so it’s a always a good reminder of God’s faithfulness to me, showing me he’s moving me forward in this transition stage.

    Thanks again!

  4. Thank you, Jenilee, for putting into words what I can’t explain even to myself. We are about two months away from leaving the field and returning to the US after nine years of service in two very different African countries. My children have never lived in America before (just vacationed there), and we have never lived there as a family. I’ve only been a mom overseas and I’m all of the emotions mentioned above as the time draws near. Thank you. My world does need Jesus right now, and I love that you gave me a song (music speaks to my heart) that I can use as a prayer. I’ll be praying and watching as your family transitions, and I hope you will do the same for ours. We will be in Southwest MI this summer. Maybe we can meet up and share experiences over a cup of coffee for you and tea for me;). God bless you!

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