We all reach that age in life when we have to start “doing” for ourselves and learning to do without those we’ve spent a lifetime depending on. Some go off to college, join the army, or get a job and begin supporting themselves. While others simply experience a different scary first life has to offer. However, no matter what that first step out of the nest looks like we all have to experience those first moments of testing our own wings. My first moments out of the nest had me heading straight for college. I had spent a lifetime listening to society tell me it was the “right” thing to do. My parent’s thought that was what I should do and EVERYONE knows you can’t do anything these days without a degree. So I enrolled in a wonderful school and spent 2 ½ years getting to know some of the most amazing people anyone could ever meet. However, I wasn’t content. There was always a small part of me that was screaming to be let out. The small part that was saying this wasn’t the life I had chosen for myself and somewhere in that “testing my own wings” thing I had allowed my parents, society, fear make the flight plan.
All it takes is a dream, a calling, or a whisper in the wind so faint that you strain to hear what it is telling you. It may not be what society deems as “right” or what your parents think is “best.” However, it is the thing that keeps coming back to your heart, mind, and soul even when you have both feet firmly planted on another path. My dream and I guess calling had always been to serve God in the mission field somewhere. However, my parents’ always said, “after college” “some place near” or “go on a 2 week trip.” For a long time I listened. Mostly because no matter how certain I was that missions was where my heart was, I couldn’t convince my mind and body that it should be there too. As discontent as I was at school I wasn’t convinced I was ready to walk away from my loved ones and all the comforts of life.
It wasn’t until the end of my 5th semester at Malone that the still small voice inside of my heart caught up to the rest of me. It was tired of being ignored and needed to be heard. I believe we all have that still small voice inside of us somewhere. Some of us are just better at listening to it from the very beginning instead of waiting 2 ½ years to finally get it. My still small voice came in the form of a blog. A girl from my hometown was working in Honduras at a children’s home and was using a blog to express her thoughts. As I sat reading her words and looking at her photos I kept getting this nagging feeling from deep within me. It was saying, “this is everything you’ve ever wanted or longed for.” It was in that moment my flight plan began to change and my life began to shift into a different direction.
I finally allowed myself to step back and review my life. Was I truly happy? Sure I loved my life but was I happy leading the life someone else had chosen for me? Was I happy leading the “safe” life and ignoring that longing that I felt on a daily basis? In the following 3 weeks I prayed, planned, and prepared for this new phase of life I was about to enter. I was expecting at the least a change of scenery that would help me decide just what I wanted my future to look like. At the most I was looking for 3 ½ months in another country where I could rid myself of life’s distractions and grow spiritually. Well I managed to achieve both and so much more.
Stepping out of our comfort zones and answering that quiet nagging voice isn’t always easy. However, for me I’m learning that God never said it would be easy. He simply said that in the end it would be worth it. The sacrifice is great but the reward is better. We all have those life defining moments of life. Some times we go through them without even knowing we are being changed then get to the other side and step back thinking “wow I’ve come a long way.” That was how this experience was for me. I came simply to get rid of that nagging feeling. I needed to feed the hunger inside of me before it ate me alive. My decision hurt some of the most important people in my life but the alternative would have hurt me so much more. I would have missed out on one of the most crucial lessons that life and God had to teach me. There are risks and costs to a program of action. However, they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. I’ve learned that stepping out into the unknown can be one of the scariest most beneficial parts of life.
Not to long ago I read a quote by Mary Manin Morrissey that I feel best sums up my experience with this whole experience. She says, “Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life.” I had spent years trying so hard to be the person everyone else wanted me to be. I’m known for hating change and everything that comes with it so the thought of walking away from my comfy life often left me feeling quite uneasy. However, I found that by taking my foot off the brakes and simply putting the wheel in God’s hands (the small nagging voice) that I found a new life that released me of my hurts, my fears, and my discontentment. Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. It will never be easy to make the big changes in life but is necessary if we are going to fully get out of life what it has to offer. The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.