Laos Cyle: A Grounding Word


I braced myself for the jolt of the wheels as they hit the tarmac. Home.  Light flooded my face with happiness. I could feel it. True happiness at the thought of coming home to the ones I loved, and who loved me.  That is where my home is.

The children were still at school, and my husband arranged to pick me up himself.  I stopped at customs to declare my shoes, which had remnants of my last bike ride in Laos.  Then, I walked through the automatic doors, dragging my bag behind me, expecting to meet my husband in the car park near the airport.

But there he was!  Standing, taller and even more handsome than I remembered, with hands full of flowers, eye sparking; and that smile with the slightly awkward stance: it took me back to the early days of our courtship.   I didn’t see or notice the gathered crowd. It was one of those magical moments where the world didn’t exist; it was just us.

We laughed on the walk to the car, and my husband mentioned, that really, we shouldn’t be so giddy after almost 14 years of marriage.  Ah, it felt good to be happy.  We’ve surely been through tough, tough, not-so-happy times, I can tell you.  Yet, true love can endure and mature into something more than attraction, and so very often, love is proved in the hard times.  Yes. Refined into something of depth and beauty.

I can’t remember our conversation on the short drive to Matt’s work.  It didn’t matter.  Afterwards, I rushed home for a shower in time to surprise the children at afternoon school pick up. A “Mum!” exclamation and big hugs from my four greeted me.  Home, home, home.  HOME! Happiness!

Yet, as a new day dawned, I felt the beginnings of heaviness hang over me in a restless wind.  I hit the ground running. Back into family life: basket ball game, soccer, washing, cooking.  I found myself saying throughout the day, “We need to have family time.”  “What are we doing as a family today?” “I have so much to do.”

I cycled 300 ks through majestic mountains in Laos.  Incredible! There’s this yearning inside me to tell stories of the people I met in Laos; to make a difference. Opportunity!   The happiness I felt at coming home at the end of my journey was overwhelmingly wonderful. Joyous!  All of this emotion: it hit me, sudden-like, I felt a silent panic settle over me.

I struggled with the feeling of restlessness all day.  Restlessness that hampered the enjoyment of being home, like a joy-stealing thief, strangling silently.  It wasn’t a bad day by any stretch.  Just a regular Saturday.  The day wasn’t the problem, it was me.  At the day’s end, my husband said a few lines in one of our conversations that struck me.  Before I tell what he said, I need to explain a little more about this man I married. You see, he’s an easy-going, unpretentious, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of person. He doesn’t over-think things like I do.  We often joke about how polar we are…how I’m plagued by my depth and he by surface thinking.  Yet, many times he comes out with just the right thing in a direct concise way (here’s another example) that brings stability to my thinking.  I guess our differences create balance in our personalities.

He said to me. “Kelly, you don’t need to save the world every day.”

He said it kindly, without condescension.  In fact, the words were full of compassion, weighted with the knowledge of how overwhelmed I feel sometimes.  There’s a lot of significance in those words for me.

None of us have to save the world every single day, do we?  And we don’t need to conquer the complexities of parenting in one day either, do we?  It’s a trick of the all-or-nothing that I often get caught in.

The words struck me heavily because I think big — so much (too much) sometimes — and I just don’t know where to start.  Then, an unproductive merry-go-round starts.  The words from my husband stopped me from getting on the merry-go-round in the first place.

Continuing, he addressed yet another comment from me about ‘family-time’.

“Today was all it should be.  We ARE family; even when we’re not together.  We ARE having family time: the running here and there today.  And tonight — the movie night: we all laughed and the kids were happy — it was all it should be.”

And so it was.  Yes, yes, so it was. It WAS all it should be.

There was no rebuke in the words, only perspective, and they made me feel loved — blessed — to have someone to gently prod me back to the centre line.

And so I’ll stop trying to make everything ‘just right’ and allow myself the grace to adjust. I’ll stop trying to fabricate family time and simply BE in the family.  The  unintentional arrogance of my save-the-world mentality is in check.

You don’t need to save the world every single day Kelly.  You can’t save the world every day. Don’t fall into the trap of being overwhelmed! One day at a time, moment by moment: it counts.

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. says

    Really big weeping here at your husbands words … I feel like if I’m not out there trying to save the world every day, then I am useless. And that’s a skewed way of thinking.

    You are an incredible woman, Kelly.


  2. Kat says

    It’s so true for so many of us.
    Sometimes the little quiet everyday moments are enough and are what is needed.
    Soak it up and give yourself time to adjust after your trip.
    It always takes me a few days to adjust if I have been away from my hubby and kids and that would be just interstate to visit my sister, not to another country. :)
    Be kind to yourself

  3. says

    Wow. He’s awesome and so are you 😉
    I know of a lady who has just returned from a similar journey and her friend was describing that she is feeling just as you were. Those words would help her.

  4. says

    My husband has that knack of taking away all my angst and making things seem so clear, too. I think it’s always hard to come back to reality, and it must be extra so after the trip you’ve just had. Great that you’re going to try and cut yourself a break now, though. x

  5. says

    I know those feelings you describe are so similar to how I feel every time I come back from overseas..they can be overwhelming at times…..and I guess its true that we cant change the world every day…but sometimes (especially when those feelings are strong) I tell myself that I am changing the world everyday. Each day that I love my kids, bless a friend, write whats on my heart, raise money for India, travel to those places that no one wants to go…doesn’t it all change the world in a small way, even if its just a small change to someones heart. Glad you are home and hope you had an awesome trip

  6. Tierney says

    Thank you so much to your husband for that phrase. I think I need to turn it into my computer wall paper! I also understand the feeling of coming home and all it entails. Sometimes it is hard to just sit, even though I think that I really should be loving it. We had a sermon recently about how we are called to be children of God, not servants of God. We don’t need to work for his approval. He wants to just spend time having fun with us, and listening and even telling him stories that don’t entirely make sense, and sharing our worries with him. It’s a mind shift that I’m thinking more and more about. Maybe it’s for you too?

  7. Bonnie says

    I find culture shock is more when you return to Australia. Your story made my heart swell. I know the feeling and I love the sentiments.

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