Why Hello There, Real World

Be content. Just looking at that phrase almost brings tears to my eyes. Back in January, before starting the most tumultuous six months of my life, I would never have guessed how much weight that phrase would carry. I chose content as my word for the year, desiring to learn how to be content in all my life. I definitely think that God has a sense of humor, because He threw my way many many many situations in which I would need to learn to be content. Looking back at my life a year ago, where I am at right now is exactly the place I would tell you I would never be. No way that I would ever want to be a missionary. Absolutely no way that I am single. And I’m a social work major….HA, that’s a funny joke.  Sometimes I wonder how it is that such a short time can change so much. These past six months I’ve been to five different countries, lived in two, interacted with three completely different cultures, met lifelong friends, started a new job, and changed my worldview. And that’s just the beginning of it! My friends joke that I’m a completely different person since coming home from Israel. I guess that’s to be expected. I mean, there’s no way you can go to Israel without changing. Someone told me there that living in Israel is like taking every paradigm, or belief that you have about the world, and throwing them on the floor. Now you’re standing over them, staring at the broken pieces and trying to figure out how to pin them back together. However, that process is hard. Sometimes it got me to the point that I was ready to throw up my hands to the sky and despair at God for why I felt that nothing could be certain. But I’m here to say that it gets better. Through prayer and intentional reflection, my experiences began to shape who I am not only in Israel, but here in America. It’s been a journey, but I’m ok. I truly believe that our greatest growth comes through trials, and the result of my hardships have formed me to be stronger than I ever thought I could be, and with bigger dreams than I ever thought possible. But, let’s go back a little bit. 

The last time I blogged was two weeks before I left Israel. I was planning on doing a final blog, but let’s just say a few days after this blog, my world was rocked and I was not ready to admit it or even process it at the time. For those of you who had been following my blog, I spoke openly about my relationship with Gerrit and his support through my time there. However, the long distance was difficult, especially with the lack of communication that the distance allowed. Things fell apart, and we ended up breaking up over Skype. Needless to say, those next few weeks were excruciating. Although I didn’t sit and mope around due to the nagging of my friends and their incredible support, I still struggled. How do you even wrap your head around being without someone who you had been with for three years? Especially when engagement was right around the corner. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. How do I just pick up and move on, especially when I’m still in the world of Israel? Coming home, I did end up seeing him, but things got worse and I finally had to come to terms with the fact that things were done. For good. 

Let’s just say, those few weeks were the most emotionally trying of my life. I tried to wrap my head around the fact that there was no engagement in my future. And I can’t even begin to explain how weird it was to come back to my home, which didn’t even feel like my home anymore, and not have him in my life anymore. See, in Israel, it was easy to go to the Old City and get my mind off of it. But at home, where there were memories everywhere, it was almost suffocating. But I reached down deep and pulled out a strength that I didn’t even know I had. And now I’m happy. Truly happy. I think it’s mostly because I just feel free. I have my whole life ahead of me, and now there are endless possibilities. And I have the peace that this is God’s plan for my life. Instead of placing a relationship in front of Him, He wants me to rely on Him. 

After the initial breakup in Israel, a wonderful South African woman named Hermana pulled me aside one day. She has been coming along side youth for many years, and she knew that I was hurting. She sat on the ground next to me, took my hand in hers, and prayed. She allowed me to cry, to hurt. But she prayed with me, lifting up my life to God, the Healer. After the prayer, she looked at me and said that the Holy Spirit had placed an image in her mind that she wanted to tell me. It was that of a mother eagle, with a next of almost grown chicks (is that the word?). When the mother thinks they’re ready, she starts to pull away sticks from the nest until eventually a baby falls. She allows the baby to fall, but then flies underneath them and catches them on top of her wings. And she relayed to me that this is what the Lord was doing to my life. He was taking away all that kept me from truly unabandoned worship and surrender of Him and letting me fall. Not to worry though, because He was going to catch me. I can’t even begin to describe how much this helped me. Knowing that everything at home was different: my church, my friends, my love life, almost crushed me. But when I rested in the peace of the Lord, I was okay. And now I’m working to remove all the other ‘sticks’ that stand between Him and I. I want to jump into His wings, leaving all else behind. Now, that’s not easy, and it’s pushed me. But I need to step up to challenges, not shy away from them. 

The Greek word for content is arkeo. It is such an incredible word. It means to be content, to have unfailing strength, and to be fulfilled/satisfied. These are all words that have come to define who I am and who I strive to be. I hope to one day get this word as a tattoo. Yes, I know that many of you will dislike that idea, but don’t worry: it will be my graduation present to myself. If in two years that is still what I want, then I figure then it will actually mean something putting it on my body. 

Now, those are all the lessons that I am learning. Let’s get back to some of the logistics of what my life has been the past few months. I came home and returned to my job at Panera Bread, which has been both a blessing and a pain. While I have really stepped up my work ethic and learned a lot more about the company, I have also gotten frustrated with the demanding clientele and drama that has gone on with the staff. Last week I was offered a job at Appletree Learning Center, which is a daycare really close to my college. I started last Monday and am really enjoying it. I get to spend time with kids all day, including babies as young as 6 weeks! I also won’t work nights and weekends, and my schedule will be the same. It is a blessing to have this job and I am so excited to see what comes of it. My last day at Panera is November 10, and while I will be sad to not work with my coworkers anymore, I will be happy to leave. 

I am living at home this semester. I made that decision because I wanted to save money and also I didn’t enjoy living at Kuyper that much last year. It was quite the transition at first, because in Israel I was used to complete freedom and not having anyone ask me where I was going or when I was coming home. But it’s been great because my parents have really accepted that I’m growing up and allowed me to have all the freedom that I want. I also am so busy that I am only home to sleep, so I don’t have much idle time to worry about what’s going on at home. I really miss my sister, but that’s something that I will have to live with forever, because she isn’t coming home in the summers anymore. I’ve really learned to cherish time I get with her, and I love being able to talk to her a few days a week. 

I have been attending a new church, which is quite the change for me because I had been attending Banner of Christ since birth. It’s been a really good change for me. I get to spend the day with my friends from college and worship with them, strengthening our friendship in our praise to the Lord together. We usually spend the whole day together and then attend Cornerstone’s worship service at night, and it allows us to discuss the sermon and pray for each other. Plus the worship at Impact Church is incredible and I feel connected there. 

School this semester has been tough. My classes are quite demanding, and having two jobs on top of that has made it hard to keep up. I had a few mental breakdowns in the beginning weeks, but I have adapted to the commuter lifestyle and accepted my busyness. It’s just something that I had to get used to, and now I’m excelling in my schoolwork and finally feel like I am in control of my world again. I was also asked to tutor, and also to be a Teaching Assistant next year. It feels awesome to be recognized and asked to step in roles to help people. My switch to social work has been pretty good, and I really do feel like this is where I need to be. And now I have Ecuador in 2014 to look forward to! 🙂

Well, that’s about it for now. There’s so much more I could tell, but this is long enough. I hope to keep blogging, just about life and things that come along. I might even take some of the philosophy that I’ve been struggling with and put those struggles on here, just so that I can get them out.