Imagine moving to a foreign country where you don’t know anybody, don’t understand the language, can’t read signs, labels, or directions, and you’re too young and inexperienced to be aware that their customs are different than in your country. Imagine being forced to attend a foreign school there, where no one speaks your language.
Welcome to my world. I was twelve when Dad retired from the military, packed up his family and belongings, and herded us to Germany, where I started the equivalent of fifth grade. I felt like baitfish thrown in with sharks.
We five siblings grew up together in that life, each of us from one to two years apart—an adorable staircase of kids—girl, boy, girl, boy, girl. Our sister, three years older than I and our Dad’s daughter, lived with her mom and wasn’t allowed to join us, even for visits. We knew of her but had never met her. I longed to have her with us because being the first of five siblings was no picnic, and she would have been the first of six and responsible for all of us. She would also have gotten the blame for everything anybody else did. Instead, that honor was mine. I digress.
As you’ll read in this excerpt from Reflections of a Misfit, I also longed for a big brother, but for different reasons. Protection would have helped in the hostile environment of a foreign school. I didn’t know it then, but I had all the protection I needed.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
I spent my fifth grade in a German school. My family moved from Texas to Germany, and Dad was no longer affiliated with the military. He and Mom couldn’t afford the tuition that civilians were charged for the American schools, so we went to a local German school.
In retrospect, it was a wonderful educational experience, but it sure was tough at the time. No one spoke English to us, and we didn’t know a word of German. By the end of the year, we were fluent in the language and things were looking up.
Then we moved to Italy and repeated the process in an Italian school. I had to learn Latin and Algebra right along with Italian. I considered that three foreign languages at once.
The kids in those schools were like kids everywhere. At first, we felt as if they were always staring and talking about us. It hurt when they’d laugh and turn away. Some were friendly, others not so much. I longed for a big brother to shield me from the pain of perceived rejection. I felt vulnerable and a little lost. I wish I had known then that I did have a big Brother who was watching out for me, every minute of every day, according to Paul in Romans 8.
“Who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?”
God knows us by name. He called us. He chose us.
“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?
“There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.”
Paul should know. He experienced it all. “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
How can we lose with God on our side? He sent his Son for us. What wouldn’t he do for us? Jesus is in the presence of God the Father right now, sticking up for us. Who wouldn’t want such a big brother standing against the bullies of the world?
Over time, I learned the languages of the countries we lived in and discovered that people are the same everywhere We all need the assurance that we have someone watching out for us. I’m so grateful that Paul shared this assurance with us.
Short bio for Reflections
P.T.L. Perrin (Patty) wasn’t interested in the Bible, but as much as she tried to evade the God of the Bible, she found Him at every turn. She finally surrendered and wondered why she’d run for so long.
Patty grew up as a military brat in Europe, where she attended German and Italian schools before American high school and college. She draws from a deep well of life experiences and has discovered that we are all misfits in some way.
Patty and her husband live in south Florida, the happy grandparents of a fluid, constantly growing family.
Find P.T.L. Perrin on social media
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ptlperrin
Books by P.T.L. Perrin
Reflections of a Misfit
Voice of Viracocha
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