When You’re the Stranger: God’s Message to the Newcomer

Jessica Swanda
11 min readAug 4, 2019

During these past 19 months of nomadic living, we’ve had some hard moments — long weary days with roadblock after roadblock, sickness in an unfamiliar place, less than ideal living situations, seasons of loneliness, and more. I’ve heard other travelers talk about how a normal bad day at home feels far worse when you’re in unfamiliar territory with few or no friends nearby to walk through it with you.

You don’t have to travel as a lifestyle to experience this. Ever been on vacation with the family, and one of you gets really sick while you’re away from home or perhaps even away from a pharmacy? It’s unfortunately a little more complicated than getting sick at home.

Preparing to travel full-time. Don’t let the smile fool you — hours before this photo was taken, I was stressed to the point of tears!

Being in a new place also means you have to relearn everything you took for granted before — the roads, the stores, the people, the culture, even the language depending where you moved from.

Every move makes me feel like I’m floundering just a bit. No matter how many times I move or how used I am to learning new places, the uncertainty and the hassles of moving don’t go away. They become familiar, but they’re still there waiting to be dealt with.

Moments like these are when God consistently reaches out to anchor me. He’s taught me to give myself grace and space. Space for missing the people and places I’d left behind, space to let myself slowly acclimate to a whole new place, space to deal with the change in a way that was kind to my own heart, grace to let myself be sad or frustrated or scared just for a moment.

He taught me that He didn’t fault me for any of these struggles, but that He actually understood them better than I’d ever realized.

This concept came into sharp focus for me one spring day. I was reading the book of Deuteronomy, and a certain word in one of the verses I’d just read made me do a double take. I literally really had to read the verse again to see what I’d just missed. Here’s the verse:

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt — Deuteronomy 10:18,19

Can you guess which word caught my eye? Sojourner. I knew that word essentially…

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Jessica Swanda

Freelance writer. Travels the USA full time with her husband. Writes about travel, faith, books, and business. More about me: https://proofisinthewriting.com/