Belonging is a natural reaction, intrinsic. It gives us a sense of identity. We search in order to find a community, a group of friends, a country in which we belong.
The Lioness Mom shares with serasituations her experience of moving to France and finding her sense of belonging. Where she finds it isn’t where she expected to.
There is a timely reminder in this piece for us all. – Sera
I guess it all started from the day after…
The day after the wedding. The day after the bliss. That day when it all sank in that yes; I made this commitment. To him, to marriage and to a new life.
Growing up I’ve watched brides cry at weddings and I never really understood why. Now I do, because on that day I did too. I cried because I came to the realization that I was leaving a part of my life that I never thought I could leave without; my family, my refuge, my home.
I missed home.
And then the move to a foreign country thousands of miles away. You see, he plays professional rugby in France and we decided to begin our new journey together. I had to leave work, something which took some time adjusting to.
I missed home.
Then there’s the rugby; a sport which I didn’t know much about, and I sure wasn’t ready to dive into it 100 percent. So I took myself out, rode the bus to Toulouse, the nearest big city, sightseeing and marvelling at the beautiful French sights. Unbeknownst to me, I was trying to fit in. Trying to adapt to marriage and to this new life.
I was trying to find home.
A New Environment
I grew up in a village, I had families as neighbours and farms as my backyard. Heck I can still hear my cousin Tema’s voice in the mornings getting her 3 daughters up and ready in time for school. (You know how it rolls in the village.)
From a home in the village to Colomiers, a small town, a few minutes outside Toulouse, it was indeed a drastic yet welcomed change. I adored the fairy-tale countryside chateaux and enjoyed the metro and train rides to and fro. I breathed in the morning scent of bustling cities and fell in love when the glorious seasons change.
Still, I was searching for home.
A New Language
And then came the language. In France, normallement, everything is in French. Hearing passers-by in our small town speak English is like winning the lotto. I nod and try to catch their eye just, so I can get in a hello or a good morning. To be able to speak with another in the same language brought home a little closer.
Now my first solo French language adventure was just a few months into my first year here. It was at our local supermarket. I had to buy some meat – all I had to do was ask for “bouef” – beef, so I thought. Reaching the meat section, I tried to read the labels. Now the meat I wanted had this word on it – vache. This word was new to me. My husband had once tricked me into eating cuisses de grenouilles at our local Chinese diner. They were pretty tasty – so yes I have eaten frogs legs (never again).
Shopping without my phone, I couldn’t call my husband nor consult my constant digital friend, the ever faithful Google translate. And I sure wasn’t going to be buying horse, deer or snail meat that day so I had to ask. “C’est quoi ça?“– What is that? I asked pointing at the word vache. The butcher spoke little English so he proceeded to show me, full explaining in French. All I could understand was that it was a four legged animal.
A mother and daughter were watching this scene unfold, so the butcher turns to them and asks if they could translate vache to me en anglais.
The girl immediately blurted out, “ It’s a cohw! It’s a cohw!.”
Me: “Oh no! I will not eat a crow.”
Girl: “Non, non, not cRow, cohhhww.”
Me: “A crow? A bird?.” (flapping arms – wings – to confirm)
Girl: ” Non! Non! A cohhw…(shapes mouth) moo,moo!.”
Me: “Ah! A cow!.” (thank goodness!)
Girl: “Oui, oui, a cow!.” (Yes, yes, a cow!)
Oh the twists of the lovely French lingo.
The Turning Point
I guess this is where reality hit me. Here I was in a foreign land thousands of miles away from home with a limited knowledge of the local language. I then realized that people come into our lives for different reasons, some come to teach us, some to love us and some to experience life with us.
Some will come as the butcher, people whose lives and profession are a testament of what we silently seek. Their (good) intentions are to help others discover truth and positivism in their quests, be it in faith, marriages or self-image.
Some come as the mother-daughter duo. They represent those who are always there, no matter the circumstances. No matter how difficult the language, or limited their resources, they are there. Willing to help, to listen to cheer us on our way.
Then there’s my spouse, who may not be where I want him to be at times, who may not be who I want him to be most days, but he is always there. Teaching and loving me, leading me just as God leads him.
Isn’t it ironic that it was language which brought about this change? I am then reminded that it was language more specifically heavenly language, God’s words that brought creation into being. He spoke and it was created.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light”.
– Genesis 1:1-3
Here I am looking to self-satisfy my longing for home, for marriage, for family when I lost sight of what was and is always there, God’s words.
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
– John 1:1
And from that day, I found home. Just as the Spirit hovered over the formless, empty earth, His Words brought light, life and love into my empty nest. God was riding above earth’s clouds waiting for me to dig deep into His Word and reach out to the skies, so He could water my broken, open, and thirsty soul.
Home is not found in a new country. It is not hidden in a foreign language. Home is when we are rooted in His Words. It is when we bear the fruits of the Spirit in all our seasons no matter where-ever and how-ever we are. Home is home when God is home. He is our always, our only and our forever home.
I believe you’ll find yours too.
Bisous and lionhearted hugs,
Sai is a Fijian wife and mom of three currently living in France. Apart from being a full-time mommy, she make times to work-out from home and when her head is not buried in some French textbook trying to study the language, she pen posts for the blog @thelioness_mom.