MK: I AM Enough

During one furlough I was helping a friend clean the church. She and I each had vacuums. She plugged in her vacuum and started to sweep when she saw me standing and looking at my vacuum. She asked what was wrong and I bashfully responded that I didn’t know how to use a vacuum. She looked at me like I was crazy, “Abby, have you never used a vacuum before? Don’t you ever help clean the house?”

Funny stories like this are still happening to me. A few weeks ago, I was at home alone during a massive snow storm. I woke up to find almost a foot of snow in the driveway. I grabbed a shovel and began to clear the driveway. But, about thirty minutes later I had to phone my dad for help because I- at twenty years old- had never shoveled a driveway before. My family was getting ready for bed in Cambodia, but together we laughed at my snow shoveling efforts.

I could go on with more funny stories: the time I didn’t know which way to turn the faucet for hot water and cold water, the time I didn’t know how to tie my own shoes (that was embarrassing), or the time I argued with a cashier because I thought a US dollar equaled sixty cents. (I’d prefer not to tell you just how recent the last one was…)

I remember coming back to the States and being overwhelmed in Sunday school because as an eighteen-year old I didn’t know the simplest Bible verses. I didn’t know how to drive. I didn’t know any of the ‘normal’ church hymns. I didn’t know how to use a credit card. I didn’t know how to get gas. I didn’t even know my own address or phone number. 

I felt overwhelmed and wrote in my journal, “I feel like a failure: I can’t drive, I can’t work, I don’t know the basics about American life… What has seventeen years of life in Cambodia taught me?????”

I felt inexperienced, inadequate, amateur, and incompetent about living in the U.S. I still struggle with these feelings even after living here for two years. I’ve had to realize, though, that I will always be making practical and social blunders. Despite these blunders, I can still be secure in knowing who I am: a child of Jesus. I’m not perfect at figuring out how to live life and I will never be.

Running to Jesus when I feel inadequate always works, because He is perfectly enough. He is enough when I don’t get the approval I want from man. He is enough when I have to say, ‘I don’t know how’. He is enough when I just don’t understand why something happens the way it does.

He is enough, and I can rest in that fact.

His plans for me are enough. He knew what He was doing when He had me grow up in Cambodia. My childhood perfectly prepared me. After seventeen years of life in Cambodia I might not have known how to fill up a gas tank or state the seven days of creation, but I knew how to relate across cultures and how to work hard. I quickly saw those two skills come in handy. There was a reason why I spent my teenage years picking bloody leeches off my feet instead of going on youth group activities. He knows what those reasons are.

No, I might not have known how to use a vacuum. But I know how to use a toothbrush to get grime out of grout in between tiles. I might not know how to shovel snow, but I can harvest rice. I might not know how many U.S. cents are in a dollar, but I can tell you how many Khmer Riel, or Korean Won, or Thai Baht are in a dollar. Despite all of this, though, my worth is not found in how much I ‘know’ something, whether it be something in Cambodia or in the U.S. My worth is found in the fact that I know the person who does know everything. My worth is found in the fact that He is enough.  

25 thoughts on “MK: I AM Enough

  1. Excellent and true for everyone. I remember coming back with the girls from Chad and being embarrassed and thinking I had ruined my girls’ lives because they didn’t know how to tie their shoes. It was helpful to be in a community of other M families and see none of theirs did either! 😜

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  2. Love your writing, Abby! It’s amazing the things that we take for granted here that have been a frustration for you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  3. Hi sweetie, just wanted you to know how much we love you & think you’re perfect! I go to a group called TAG on tuesdays from our church and this past Tuesday they brought a TCK up front to talk to the group and she said so many of the same things you just wrote about! She grew up in Philippines & Thailand and said she is having such a hard time figuring out where she belongs! She spent her 1st 3 years back in Canada and the last 2 in the United States ! She was so bubbly and felt so privileged to have grown up on another… that she got to experience so much more than most kids her age, 22! Anyway so much she said was exactly what you’re saying! God bless you sweetie you are so full of wisdom! Love you!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this! I grew up in Brazil as an MK so I can relate to the struggle of feeling inferior because of not knowing a lot of things here in the states. Keep up the good work encouraging other MKs! We need it.

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  5. It’s hard when you grow up learning one skill set and then move to a place where you need a different one. Moving from feeling confident and appreciated to feeling like you don’t know much and can’t be a useful community member. I can definitely relate to some of your stories and have similar ones. Feeling dumb when I was a kid because I didn’t know how to use a toaster to toast a piece of bread…but I did know how to clean wheat berries, grind them, and make bread, which was now an unnecessary skill. And so many other things. I still feel this way a lot after 10 years as an adult in the US and even as a mother. I’m still trying to get used to dressing my kids for the different seasons, especially cold weather, and keeping all the different kinds and sizes of clothes and shoes organized. Growing up I could wear the same pair of flipflops all year round and didn’t own any long sleeve shirts, socks, etc.

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    1. Yes, Ana! It is SO hard to know both skill sets. And frustrating when other people can’t understand why we don’t seem to know enough of either. 😉 Thanks for sharing your stories!

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  6. Abby! A friend just recommended this blog to me. Love it. Are you familiar with Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds 3Ed? Just in case you don’t know it, you are not alone in any of this, you are not crazy, you are part of our ‘nation’. Peace!

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    1. That’s awesome that you enjoy reading this! I am not familiar with it, but I will look it up. I feel like resources like these are becoming more available. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  7. This is great Abigail. We are experiencing some of the same things on our furlough in the USA. Our kids are younger, but it isn’t any easier for them. Keep pressing in to Jesus!

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  8. Abby, Thank you for responding so graciously to “re-entry” into American culture. With three MK kids of my own, I have great sympathy for the challenges you have faced and are continuing to face. Thank you for turning to the Lord and finding him sufficient. By the way, we just spent a few days with your family last month and had a great time with them.

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  9. I found this post so encouraging! My daughter has grown up in Asia so far and has never had the need for shoe tying here because it’s hot and everyone has sandals and takes them off when going inside. She learned to tie shoes a few years after everyone else, but she still learned it, so that’s okay 🙂 I love the honesty of this post and how it can help people who need to understand TCK’s more to see life from a different perspective. Thank you for bravely sharing.

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