But I thought... sometimes what we thought is not what he sees

I Do Not Know

I really don’t.

I was talking to Jeremy today, tears welling in my eyes and I said, “I don’t even know what to say… I just don’t know.”

Nothing drastic happened. It was actually a very normal day. I cooked pancakes from the batter Jeremy made with his sourdough starter. I helped the girls get ready for school. I filled the water filter. I killed a mosquito that had already successfully bitten someone… me. I cleaned the bananas that our guard picked from our tree. I put the dog on his chain so that the builder could come in our yard without be scared that Zander would attack him.

He actually came in and said, “Il veut attaquer!” {He wants to attack!} and I replied, “Non, il veut jouer. Vraiment, il est gentil.” {No, he wants to play. Really, he is kind.} To which Zander jumped, growled and barked.

See… all normal.

I Do Not Know

The wind blowing in off the ocean, bringing with it a stinky smell of the sea. Breakfast dishes to wash and emails to answer. The goat in our neighbor’s yard making way too much noise and the turkey bringing thoughts of hunting and Thanksgiving.


But under the surface, nothing is normal.

I think it is often what they call “culture shock”.

Or for us, taking into account the whole “living in France for a year” thing, some delayed culture shock.

Bubbling beneath the smiles of normal life are a ton of questions.

Why do I feel like this?

I don’t know.

When will I bite the bullet and learn to drive that huge, manual Toyota truck?

I don’t know.

When will I be able to have a real conversation with someone in French?

I don’t know.

When will I be able to chop up my own raw, whole chicken and not need Jeremy to do it for me?

I don’t know.

When will I be able to climb in a taxi without worry?

I don’t know.

When will it feel normal to buy vegetables from my gate?

I don’t know.

Actually, when will having a gate feel normal?

I do not know.

When will I learn the games of friendship within the expat community here?

I don’t know.

When will I know how to navigate all the new people and new places without needing a place to hide?

I don’t know.

When will I feel like people know me again… really know ME?

I don’t know.

When will I feel a part of ministry here?

I don’t know. Refer to the above French question.

When will I understand what people are saying?

See the face below. That’s my “I don’t know but I’m still smiling!” face.

It appears. often.

I Do Not Know

When will…?

I do not know.

I can’t explain how much I don’t know.

I’m the underdog, the newbie, the start again. The one with the least experience, the least knowledge and the least ability.

I have little to give and everything to learn.

And I don’t say that lightly. I know I know things and have things to offer… but it is different here and the wall of culture shock makes those things seem so very far away, highlighting the many “I don’t knows” of life. Which highlights my need for God… which I think is the whole point.

That I know.

When will the news stop making my heart sink?

I don’t know.

When will fear of the unknown stop causing me to hesitate?

I don’t know.

When will my skin thicken and my heart grow up?

I’ve always been the softie, sensitive type so for this one, I really don’t know.

When will I be able to help Jeremy with the “big” stuff again?

I don’t know.

When will filling the water filter, making sure we have clean water for the day and enough water bottles for just in case moments be a normal part of the day?

I don’t know.

When will going to the grocery store and knowing that much of what I see is not properly packaged, taken care of or washed not make me cringe?

I don’t know.

I really don’t know.

When will God heal me… six years to the week after first landing in the ER and being told that MS was a great possibility for what I was experiencing?

I don’t know…

When will God heal my ears… these crazy, awful ears that cause their fair share of worry and headache?

I don’t know.

How I wish I knew.

When will I again be able to trust? feel settled? really unpack? let go of the underlying current of something could happen at any moment?

I don’t know.

When will I feel carpet under my feet again or hear the sound of an actual ice maker making ice in my fridge or know the phone call of someone I know well wanting to have a girls night… no strings attached?

I don’t know.

When will I be able to go all the way through a greeting in Wolof?

I don’t know.

When will I be able to be that “strong” missionary woman that I need to be?

I don’t know.

When will I again feel a part of a church family? of a community?

I don’t know.

When I go home, will I still know things? Or will I really, really not know things, arriving completely messed up?

Hmmm… I don’t know.

When will I actually know things again?

I don’t know.

When will I… I really don’t know.

The constant moves, changes of scenery, differences in people and drastic moves of culture have created this great “I don’t know” that I don’t know what to do with.

I don’t know how to talk about it which is pretty amazing because I can talk about nearly everything under the sun. Over and over again. multiple times a day… just ask Jeremy.

I don’t know how to make sense of it.

I don’t know how to change it or fix it.

It is another season of blank space.

A realization that this takes feeling off-kilter to a whole new level.

A walking through the wilderness.

A walking through change… and I didn’t know even what changes were ahead when I wrote that post.

Culture shock is all of those things put together.

No way through but to just keep going through.

A gut-wrenching, rip your heart in two, change your entire world thinking kind of season.

And I felt it today.

I don’t know what to say about it today.

And I for sure am not qualified to write about it.

I can be a listening ear for those walking it with me or behind me. I can voice the ins and outs of this season.

But I had to tell you that I just don’t know.

Will I actually hit publish on this post?

I don’t know.


Yes. I do know. I will publish.


Because I’m sure I’m not alone in the not knowing…

God is teaching. He is here, sweetly whispering in my quiet times with Him. Letting me know that this too shall pass. This too is normal. This too will draw me closer to Him.

This too will detach my heart from this world and keep my focus on who He is and His ultimate plan for our lives. my life.

This too will do those things… even when I don’t know or can’t see or don’t have the words.

God is good and thankfully, He DOES know.

God is good all the time
He put a song of praise in this heart of mine
God is good all the time
Through the darkest night, His light will shine
God is good, God is good all the time
If you’re walking through the valley
And there are shadows all around
Do not fear, He will guide you
He will keep you safe and sound
‘Cause He’s promised to never leave you
Nor forsake you and His Word is true
We were sinners – so unworthy
Still for us He chose to die
Filled us with His Holy Spirit
Now we can stand and testify
That His love is everlasting
And His mercies – they will never end
– Don Moen


  1. You’re incredibly gifted at unveiling the reality of life on the mission field–and this is another example. As I was reading about all that you say you don’t know, this Newsboys song–Your love is better than life, crossed my mind.


    Your honesty, transparency, and ability to help others understand the challenges of life as a missionary are a gift to His people everywhere…please keep writing!

    1. oh, I love Newsboys! Thanks for the reminder of that song!

      And thanks for commenting and sharing this note of encouragement. It is an honor to partner in missions in this way!

  2. You’re right, you’re not alone in the not knowing! This is so fits with where I am in life right now….wondering if I’ll ever really know anything again. But as you said, there’s one thing that we do know….GOD. And in all the unsettledness and all the not knowing, we come to know HIM better. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  3. I’ve lived overseas for over years now. I promise it does get easier to some degree. I don’t know that we’ll every truly feel that we belong until we get to Heaven. Praying for you, friend.

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