To say that these past three years here in Israel have been a struggle for me is not an exaggeration. I came with a whole lot of baggage and hard feelings. And I came with a lot of high hopes for what my life could and should look like.
Struggle to Find my Path
I had a slew of dreams for ways I could recapture some of the fun and excitement I had enjoyed in my life just prior to my return. Most of those dreams were crushed repeatedly, for all sorts of reasons. Logistics got in the way. Culture got in the way. Trying to get things done in a world that functions so very differently from what I want and need.
I felt myself giving up over and over again, a feeling that’s harder for me than you can imagine. I wanted to make a difference. That yearning quickly gave way to just a need to survive. I simply wanted my day to end without getting overwhelmed with stress and negativity. And even that was a big challenge!
Not Always Bad Here
This is not to say there haven’t been a whole lot of positives along the way. Obviously I have more access to my beloved children. My beautiful son lives with me and that’s an endless source of pride and joy. I found a happy, friendly, and super-loyal dog.
And, of course, I met my incredible wife here in good ole Israel. It’s fair to say that if I had remained in Kansas, meeting each other would have been a bit of a longshot.
And I’ve made a few good friends, had some nice experiences, and tried my hardest to make the best of a very imperfect situation.
But a recent incident made me realize how hard of a time I’m really having. I’m going to be intentionally vague, since I’m not here to bash an organization. They deserve it, but that’s not my goal. Their incompetence simply highlighted how much I’ve come up short with accomplishing my goals since arriving here.
In outward appearance, I was having some major successes here. I’ve gotten to go skydiving twice. I even got to go together with my son. I’ve figured out a way to enjoy UFC fights from Israel, despite the fact that they happen out about 6AM on a Sunday morning here, and I’m already working. Yeah, it’s not as fun as going wild with a bunch of other screaming fans in an American sports bar. But it’s still a whole lot of fun.
But when something that I grew to love here disappointed me enough times that I needed to walk away, it was heartbreaking. And, in many ways, damaged a part of me.
Greatness… Without Stress
I’ve written in the past that removing stress has been an essential part of surviving my Israel experience. I pay way too much at the grocery store to avoid the ones that make me borderline homicidal. I walk almost everywhere, because the roads are miserable and dangerous and the bus drivers couldn’t care less that their vehicles are filled with actual humans.
So finding an outlet that not only made me extremely happy, but didn’t simultaneously infuriate me was enthralling. It gave me hope for my time here. It made me think perhaps–perhaps–I wanted to be here, not just that I was required to be here.
But when the errors were piling up, the incompetencies were overwhelming, the blatant disregard for human decency was palpable, and the stress was more than I could take, I needed to walk away.
Not the Right Response
In their eyes, they can do no wrong. But they need to know that for some there was a lot more riding on things than they could have imagined. Every chance was given to improve. I waited months for promised changes to come into effect. And every time I was disappointed.
I reached out repeatedly, desperately trying to express my thoughts and concerns. I usually got one of three responses: Bored lack of interest, meaningless exclamations about the future replete with telling me how hard they’re working, or no response at all. I didn’t like any of these responses. But I found the last of the three the most disheartening.
I would often express my concerns, only to see many days later that they hadn’t even been looked at, let alone considered. You can answer me, you can even tell me that I have nothing to worry about. But if you ignore me, if you treat me like I’m an irrelevant inconvenience in your life, for this I have no patience. And utter disdain.
Not Your Right
It is your own decision if you wish your organization to fall to pieces. If you want those of us who have dedicated years to what you do to fall to the side one after the other, that is your choice.
But I cannot let you continue to be harmful to me or my family. Neither you nor anyone is allowed to cause us this much stress and heartache.
And so here I stand. If you’ve been watching for a while, you know I moved to Israel under duress. I’ve struggled with my past experiences here and I’m working hard on a day-to-day basis to find my place here and make the best of an imperfect situation.
The Struggle and the Responsibility
This experience has shown me how vulnerable I am. I struggle to celebrate the victories I’ve had with my Israel experience. When I can, it is glorious for me. I’m able to prove to myself that wherever life takes me, I’m able to transform my situation for the better.
Yet the victories are still too infrequent and relatively small that when one gets so severely damaged, it damages a piece of me along with it.
We in Israel have a responsibility to be great. Our words and actions are viewed by the world and it’s upon all of us to represent our nation well. But that responsibility also extends to those around us. So many of us want to love it here and want our transition to be utterly smooth. Your responsibility to be great has a lot more riding on it than you might think.
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