I have some really cool news, but it requires starting at the beginning. This post is a little long, but I promise I'm going somewhere. The last six years of my life have been an amazing journey, and I would love to have you in on it. Walk with me?
6/26/06- On my way to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I am 16. Our group from church will help repair a barn, shingle a roof, and frame a new house. In red dirt, empty lots, and twisted, mangled tree roots, we find some sort of crazy hope. There can be rebuilding after disaster.
7/6/06- The woman we helped cries as we pull out of her driveway. You don't know what you've done for us, she says. I want to tell her it's the other way around. I want to tell her she blessed me more than she'll ever know. I came to fix a barn and left, startled by the love I felt for another human being in the course of one week. I left broken and whole and challenged.
6/26/07- On my way to Mississippi again. Except I decide not to go. What changed? I have no idea.
6/26/08- I graduate from high school. I get lost in things that seem important. I find my worth in studying, working hard, pleasing people.
6/26/09- I am exhausted. I pray that God would interrupt me from myself. And He does.
12/26/09- On my way to Indianapolis. Instead of graduating a year early, I decide to go on a missions trip to Virginia. What changed? Everything. God changed everything.
6/1/10- On my way to Virginia. It is hot. I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, in the best way possible. I'm immersed in a community of Christian college students that loves me exactly as I am; this view of grace will change my life. We walk along the beach, we sing too loudly, we talk with people about what they believe. For the first time, I feel known and alive.
7/15/10- Walking home from church the night before my birthday, friends and I run into a man on the boardwalk who we talk with about God. He says he's too far gone for forgiveness. We talk with him until it's dark out, until it's midnight. Until it's my birthday, and I have given this stranger the most valuable thing that I know how to give. We are all talking and crying and praying, and I realize that this is what I want my life to look like. I want it to look like love.
8/12/10- On my way home. I struggled with readjusting. I don't know what to do.
1/1/11- I get a little lost again. I am on my way to graduating. People swarm in with opinions. I should try this. I should have studied something else. I'm going to be unemployed. Being a writer is ridiculous. Just do something normal, for once.
6/1/11- I take on more responsibilities. I take more classes. I have two jobs. I apply for internships. I try to balance obligations and the idea that people are important. My priorities wrestle. People get the short end of the stick.
1/20/12- I apply for a dream internship. I realize that my church is going to Nicaragua to help people in poverty. I want to do both. I consider withdrawing my internship application. I submit it anyway.
2/28/12- Rejected from internship. I am disappointed and yet...relieved. Do I cry or laugh? These plans are bigger than me.
Today finds me spending two weeks of this summer in Leon, Nicaragua. I am thrilled, amazed, and ready. It feels like I've been waiting years for this trip. Years to rediscover what I once knew in my bones was important.
People are important.
People are more important than seeming important.
Love is the most important.
I praise God that He knows what we need. And I think He knew I needed this trip. That I couldn't get lost for awhile. That I needed to be found. Found in the power of the gospel, in the richness of community, in the awe that comes from His love.
If you feel lost or stuck or on your way to something you're unsure of: I know how that feels. It feels weird to have big questions, or too-big dreams, or a passion for something that doesn't quite fit into how your life looks right now.
The best thing someone ever told me was this: keep trusting God. Dreams will come and go, but He stays the same. And if you're supposed to be somewhere, you'll get there, somehow. Even if it takes time. It has taken me a lot of time, but I'm on my way.
I used to think I was on my way to being a writer and sometimes went on missions trips. I wonder, now, if it isn't the other way around. If I have always, deep down, been on my way to wherever God is taking me, and sometimes I get to write about it.
Who knows what the future holds? I don't. And it feels really good. It feels like surrender, after all these years.
With all hope,