Finding my balance in Bangkok

A guest post by Candice

I’ve been asked to describe my “sphere” and my struggles within that sphere. That assignment made me pause and think. What exactly is my sphere? Sometimes, despite the fact that I live in the outskirts of Bangkok,  a city of 11 million plus, my personal sphere can feel pretty small.

Candice with her husband Tom and (left to right) Claire, Eliza and Silas.

In reading the previous posts, I could relate to Sabrina as a stay-at-home-mom. My kids are: Claire (7, avid reader, pet lover), Eliza (5, the skinny one, also a big reader) and Silas (2, likes his matchbox buses, and is a great dancer). I feel a lot of joy as a mom. My kids and my role with my kids is a huge part of who I am right now. I like crafting Christmas decorations with them, baking things for them, reading to them, creating traditions and celebrations that make them feel happy and safe.

My struggle within my mom sphere is worry. I  worry about raising my kids outside their home culture and how that affects them. I worry a lot about what they are missing . . . from sleeping in Grandpa’s bunk beds to not studying American curriculum in their Thai schools . . . and deeper stuff like if they can relate socially as well as children who grow up in their home cultures.

Claire in a traditional Thai outfit for a school performance.

I miss my family–on behalf of my kids and for myself too.  I burst out crying in the middle of  lunch yesterday because I suddenly had a wave of family-longing crash down on me. After four years of living here, I thought it would be easier, but I miss my family more over time. It never stops hurting to miss out on all the family times, like the Christmas brunch that’s coming up on Saturday. I sometimes get jealous of women in the States who can hug their moms, take the kids to Grandma for babysitting, buy a live Christmas tree, go back to school, drive a car anywhere they want, hang out with other moms and ask advice. I ask Jesus continually to give me contentment, to help me see the good, to be grateful for all my blessings here.

My good friend and English student, Sao.

Eliza and Ju, my very good friend who was originally my thai language tutor.

Friend and new believer Tukdaa.

I can also relate to Carla as a working mom . . . language studies, teaching English, assisting our RMM team often take me outside the home as well. I have found that teaching for me is a good outlet, a way to feel I am making a concrete contribution, and I’ve also discovered that it’s a good way to listen to the troubles of others and to pray for them. It meets a deep need of my own too. In my first year here I struggled almost daily with loneliness and adjustment. I longed for friends who understand me. And now I have Thai friends who really do. It’s taken awhile, but it’s a major blessing in my life to have true friends — someone to eat sushi with and talk about our problems, someone to go to with my cultural questions (why in this modest society is it okay for high school girls to do sexy dances on school stages??), someone to check in and care about my emotional highs and lows.

Silas and my neighbor and good friend, Chaweewan.

My friend and hair stylist Ae cuts Silas's hair.

So I guess, to answer the question, I would say balance is my struggle:

balancing home and working outside the home

balancing my need for nest and security and holiday and tradition versus getting outside the house and interacting with my adopted culture

Geat and her children -- a seeker in our church group.

balancing my own needs and the needs of my children/team/students

balancing providing for my children and trusting God to provide for them

balancing my envious feelings with prayer and gratitude

Another need/struggle of mine is to make space and time to listen to Jesus and to follow the Holy Spirit’s voice and leading. Sometimes the day passes and maybe I’ve accomplished a lot (or not!) but then I have to ask myself — did I really take time to listen to Him?? One of my big fears is becoming disconnected from Jesus;  not hearing from him.  If I don’t realign my own thoughts to His — I lose all perspective and living this life gets really hard.

Women worshipping at a Buddhist shrine in Bangkok.

When I read the prayers and scribbling in my journal-Bible from our first year in Thailand, I see the way God has worked to meet my needs and to heal the parts of me that were in so much pain back then. I need him as my source and life flow and trust him to meet my current needs and my future needs and to help me find balance. He always does if I give him the space and time to do it in His way (usually not what I expected)!

A woman is baptized in Northeastern Thailand.

I have been inspired by the honesty of the ladies who have shared on this blog — thank you for helping me understand struggles that are different from my own and to feel understood by women who share my struggles.

-Candice

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3 Responses to Finding my balance in Bangkok

  1. Felicia says:

    I’m encouraged by the writings of Candice and Naomy. The song…Eternal God, faithful and true, All of my longings come home to YOU…gently resonates as your words confirm our mutual deepest heart need–fellowship with God.

  2. Sabrina Lehman says:

    Candice, I enjoyed reading this so much. I read it several days ago, but am just now getting to comment on it. I thought of you today. My parents went into mission work in Canada when I was 2 1/2. While not overseas, pre-internet 1980 Canada felt a million miles away from Pennsylvania where my parents were from.

    I remember Christmases when we wouldn’t go “home”. As a child I kind of missed it, but never fully understood my mom’s tears (that she tried hard to hide) on those days when her family was together without her. I now realize what a great job my mom did of making those times special for her own little family. My brother’s and I are still close and I believe much of it is because of the time we spent together as a family.

    Oddly enough, Jeremy and I now live in the same area my parents grew up in. My parents are still in Canada. I now understand my mom’s tears. I have shed my own tears this holiday. Because even though we now have cheap long distance and Skype, “home” feels a million miles away today.

    I wish I could comment on everything you wrote. Thank you for the challenge to really listen to the Holy Spirit. So very true. I pray you have had a very special and meaningful Christmas. Thank you for sharing!

  3. candice says:

    Thanks Sabrina and Felicia so much for your kind words!! Sabrina, I am so encouraged by what you say about the closeness of your family and what you experienced as an MK- I would love to hear more about that sometime!! I have so much to learn from adult TCK’s who can give the best advice on what to do/what to avoid in raising my kids away from their home culture. I welcome advice from any of you!!
    I did have a wonderful Christmas and hope you did too! Candice

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