the salt cpmpass christian blog madeleine hagan travel student life

When Location Isn’t Everything

Over the past week I’ve woken up at home. Finally at home, and for an indefinite period of time. I’ve looked forward to this very much since I haven’t gotten to stay in one place indefinitely for a very long time.

The idea of having a deadline for how long I could stay in one place was an old one long before my final semester, so now waking up to misty mountain sunrises brings a welcome change of mentality. There’s a sense of place, of belonging, present within me that just would not click into place for the 3 years that I called Portsmouth my home. Don’t get me wrong, Portsmouth will always have a piece of me, and I loved the years I got to spend there, but there’s something different about finally coming home. Like I can let go of a breath I’ve been holding for a long long time.

On the flip side, I’m dealing with the consequences of that wish. Viki and Roz asked me how I was doing the other day, and I just said,

“I’m not the international student, the American one, anymore.”

I’m no longer the consistent world-traveler. I’m not sure when my passport will collect its next stamp. People’s eyes won’t go wide when they hear my accent or discover where I’m from. They won’t say I’m “the brave one so far from home” anymore.

As much as I don’t like to admit it, those are all things that have tried burrowing deep into my identity, and since I liked the sound of it all I let them. That concept of who I could be was appealing, and I soaked it in every time. I crossed oceans, ate different foods, took weekend trips to Italy, and stood in skyscrapers in London.

Now that they don’t readily apply anymore, it feels kind of strange, because I think I let myself believe that it was all of those things that made me special or interesting. Now, I walk around my small town and feel overwhelmingly…ordinary. Nothing new, nothing exciting, different, or unique. I’m just another person who lives here. Another small town girl looking back at that midnight train that took her where she wanted three years ago, only now she’s back.

When I flew overseas the first time I wanted to start over. Reinvent myself. And that’s exactly what I did. I’m so grateful for all the people who helped me grow into who I am today over the past few years. Only now, I’m having to remind myself that just because my location has changed once again, doesn’t necessarily mean I have to start all over or change myself to accommodate it. While that’s 100% what I wanted in Freshman year, I have no intention of letting the girl I grew into during my time in Portsmouth stay there. She got on the plane, for the 36th time, came home, and kept all the lessons she learned along the way.

My nationality doesn’t stand out now. My accent doesn’t either. But maybe that’s okay, and maybe it’s good that I didn’t stay there even longer or this mentality might’ve gotten stuck in my mind. Cause maybe those things shouldn’t be what stand out anyway.

To be known by your nationality for three years is a mentality that’s difficult to let go of, but I would trade it any day if I could be known for my Kingdom citizenship instead. And that’s a kind of special and interesting that’s slightly less obvious at first glance or first word.

It’s time for me to walk in that for a while, without hiding behind the neon AMERICAN sign people have placed over my head in the past. While I might’ve landed at home for a time, I have no doubt the path set before me will have me crossing oceans once more at some point in the future. After all, last I checked, the Kingdom of Heaven is global and my citizenship there will never expire. There is no place I can go where that will no longer define me, and no amount of stacked up days where my passport has been inactive to disqualify me. Remembering this has helped me align my mindset during these sunny days at home, and I can’t help but think that these weeks of rest are the lead up to God-sized missions.

I’m still a wanderer at heart, still in love with sandy beaches and coffee shops, and misty mornings on my front porch. Still putting one foot in front of the other in pursuit of my Savior and King.

Still me.

when location isnt everything madeleine hagan the salt compass blog christian student

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