A few years ago, this article was published from Adventist News Network. It highlights the very real and common challenges of re-entry through some personal experiences of a few returned student missionaries.
As I have talked with former SMs–who served from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond–many of the symptoms of re-entry are the same, no matter the decade or century. I’ve also found that some return SMs don’t like to be labeled in a category of “reverse culture shock,” and tend to think it only has to do with getting used to shopping malls and traffic. But I think the process of re-entry and adjusting back to life at home often has a lot more to do with relationships–feeling lonely, displaced, misunderstood, and a bit left-behind. You could experience some of the same feelings if you’d just dropped out of school for a year and returned, but it can often be intensified by your mission experience because it ran so deep and few are willing or able to take the time to try to understand that. And similarly, you might have a lower appreciation of the changes that happened at home because you were off having your adventures. Eventually, you find your middle ground with new shared experiences, and even a few people who enjoy your mission stories.
Until then, you can know you’re not immune, and you’re not the only one. Whether it’s easy or hard, fast or slow, everyone gets to go through some adjustments. But the same God who brought you through your mission experience will not leave you now.