Jetlag is a strange thing. When you travel far enough out of your time zone your body reacts in all kinds of strange ways. You get used to a certain rhythm and clock, and then you tinker with it and your body and mind team up in a rebellion. It’s strange.
We’re just back in London after being in LA for Christmas. It was great to be home—to see my family, to spend time with some friends, and to eat at my favorite places (In-N-Out, La Cabañita, Frontier Wok and, of course, Tally Rand in Burbank). My mother and father-in-law were such gracious hosts for all of us on Christmas Day, and my mom took good care of us for the rest of our visit. I got to see my sisters and their kids, and spent some good time with my friend and brother-in-law Bill. We had one Cigar Night while I was in town, full of conversation about movies, theology, food and family.
Being back in London is good, too. Julie and I were both surprised at how much we missed it—at how much it feels like our home now. Being back in our house here, seeing our friends, going to church—all of that is making us feel settled and, well, good.
But there’s still the jetlag to overcome.
It’s much harder to come east than it is to go west. When we get to LA from here, we have a hard time staying awake beyond 8 or 9pm for a while, but we tend to wake up rested and ready to go. Who cares if it’s 4am? When you go east you can’t get to sleep until 2 or 3am, and then it feels impossible to wake up. The third night and the day following are always the worst for me, and this time was no different. I couldn’t sleep until past 3am, and then had a hard time getting out of bed at 10:30. We feel sluggish and off-kilter right now, but it’s going away.
Why talk about jetlag? Because it seems to me—even though it makes us tired and grumpy and out of sorts—that jetlag is a persistent reminder that we left something (and some people) behind. It makes me think about what’s happening with my family in Burbank, at our church in Glendale, in my favorite places to eat, even. The feeling of jetlag as I re-enter this new home reminds me of my old home, even if just for a few days. Part of me is living in both places this week. I work here, sleep here, play with Ian and talk with Julie here, but part of my body—my rhythm—is still in LA. It’ll go away by the weekend, but for now I’m allowing it to remind me of the great family, the wonderful friends, the vibrant church, and the hometown that I still love.
The other day Ian was concerned that we might love London as much as we loved Burbank. As I scrambled to think of something to say in response, I ended up telling him that we were blessed to have two places to live that we loved equally. As it came out of my mouth it occurred to me that it was true. How gracious God is to call us to a place far away from what we knew and loved, and to teach us to love it there, too. I wonder if that’s the gift that missionaries receive in order to survive the amazing work that they do. I’m light years away from seeing myself as a missionary, but I think the gift might be the same.
The jetlag I’ve been feeling this week is a little reminder of that.