In June our family said goodbye to an 11-year-old little girl who had taken up space in our home and our hearts during her fifteen-month stay in the U.S. through a Korean exchange program. I recall the void that was felt for several weeks. We had to retrain ourselves to count to six instead of seven when setting the table, cross off Baby Swiss Cheezits on the grocery list, and zerbert one less child at bed time.
When we embarked on opening our home to an exchange student, we focused on the experience we could bring to her life, but did not realize the impact she would make on ours. This was one of the many thoughts going through my head as I mowed the lawn in June just days after putting her on the fourteen-hour flight back to her real home. As I looked back, I saw all the things I had learned about myself. I learned that I did have a heart that could grow to love a child that wasn’t my flesh and blood. I also saw the selfish sides of me, at times, that struggled with being inconvenienced with another person to manage. I saw my kids and family in a new light as we had to adjust to having a new person in our midst. But the biggest thing that I learned is that life always boils down to relationships. It’s what matters most in the end. You never know when it will be your last time to make an impact on a life. So don’t discount the value of spending time with those you love. With our Korean daughter, we knew our time was limited and yet we still got sucked into thinking we would have more time and more opportunities.
Our world pulls us in so many directions. It also inundates us with messages that the temporary things are so much more important than relationships. Listen to your heart and not your logic. The laundry can wait. Play a game with your kids. Your to-do list can grow another day. Go on a date with your hubby. That much-needed run isn’t necessary. Take a walk with your sister. Must see TV doesn’t have to be seen. Write an encouraging e-mail to a friend in need. Choose to invest in relationships today.
Written by: Stephanie Teslaa works in HR for West Michigan Woman magazine's publishing company, Serendipity Media. She excels at using both the right and left sides of her brain, and that’s exactly what makes her so special. Stephanie calls Hudsonville home and is a lover of numbers and also a talented photographer.