Out of Place: When You’re Not Where You Thought You’d Be

Reading Time: 4 minutes

out of place

Stuffed animal on the kitchen counter.  Dirty socks by the back door.  Laundry on the couch.  Empty coffee cup on the bathroom counter.  Wagon on the driveway.  Library books on the floor.  

What do all of these things have in common?  (Besides the fact that they might all be true about where we are living right now.)

All of these items are out of place.  They are not in their designated spot.  While there might be a good reason for them to be where they are located, that is only temporary.  

Let’s add one more item to the list: my family.

This is the Home Assignment that Never Ends

Our two-and-a-half month furlough is turning into a five-month furlough.

First of all, let me say that I am very grateful for the space we have in my parentshouse, for the flexibility they have offered us, and for the openness with which they have approached this new situation. 

As far as living outside of our own home goes, we are quite comfortable.  

And yet, as my parents will also readily acknowledge, its not the same as being in our own physical home.  Our space with our things and our routines. My spices. The kids’ bedrooms, Our Christmas pajamas.  (I thought wed be back in Cairo for Christmas.)

I know, I know, Christmas PJs are not the big concerns here.  But the PJs add to the feeling of displacement. 

We are not where we thought we were supposed to be. 

Its a strange feeling, knowing we were planning to be back in our Cairo home by now. 


Wading through Out-of-Place-ness

We have taken time to reflect on the mixed emotions we feel: thankful and happy for more time with family and riding bikes and playing outside in the grass. Sad we wont see our community and our church for a while still.  Thankful for the good medical care we have found. Sad for the need to seek out medical care.

We are currently addressing some medical needs that came up while we were stateside on furlough.  Doctors have recommended we not fly right now–and that we address these needs immediately.  

Many situations can cause displacement when you’re overseas. It might be political unrest in a country, medical needs that cant be met in a particular country or that happen while traveling, visa issues.  And COVID-19 certainly displaced many people away from the field or trying to get back to the field.

And so we will stay.  Without our winter clothes or our Christmas PJs.  We are displaced. 

out of place

Out of Place: A Clarification

Do not mistake this displaced for misplaced, dear reader. 

Even when my emotions twist and turn and threaten to spill out of my eyes and down my cheeks, I know that I am not misplaced. 

My Great Father knows exactly where I am.  He hasnt lost me or forgotten to move the mountains that needed to move. 

And whats more, He knows why we are here.  

His purposes are not my purposes. Though I hope mine align with His, I cannot claim He will align His purposes with mine. 

And thats a good thing.  My vision only goes so far. It tends to blur around the edges of what I understand.  

I may not have to the opportunity to understand His purpose in this time.  However, I always have the opportunity to trust.  To trust His purpose, to trust His divine will, to trust His provision, to trust His love for me.  

Perhaps, as I offer up this time and press into investing well where I am located, it will seem we are not so out of place after all.

If you read this and happen to know someone who is out of place for a season, send some encouragement their way. 

Sometimes out-of-place can be a lonely, confusing sort of place.


Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blog here.

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