I’m coming at you two weeks in to my five month adventure, and I’ve gotta say, though it hasn’t always been easy, I’m already learning a lot, primarily related to trust.
Lesson one? I did not trust God nearly as much as I thought I did.
One of the biggest tensions I felt when I came here was whether I was going to resist God or surrender. I had decided to go on this trip for a lot of reasons, a change of pace (or kick in the pants) to figure out what I was going to do next, to learn what God’s voice sounds like for myself, and, in some ways, to finally really say yes to God, no matter what He asked. I had long felt that this trip was going to be a “point of no return” for me, a turning and commitment towards God that would take me to a new level of understanding I couldn’t come back down from (or at the very least wouldn’t want to), but once I arrived, once I was really feeling the pressure of what that kind of surrender would mean, well, I found I wasn’t quite as ready to take that step as I’d thought. I’d given God things before, my family and friends, finances, dance. And where was I now for all of that? Halfway around the world, about to spend most of my money, and oh yeah, not dancing. Worse, the more I talked to people, the more I felt certain if I surrendered my writing too, it would turn into something I didn’t like. It would get “Christian-y,” something I never really wanted. I’m not into straight allegories and my characters don’t just face Christian problems in Christian settings. What if I gave my work over to God and suddenly Cog became some allegory for suffering and Rick became some struggling Christian (not that I wouldn’t want all of my characters to be Christian in the end, obviously, but that’s never really been my purpose in writing them) working through some Christian-ese crisis of faith? Worse, what if God took them away entirely? Maybe blogging and poetry were the only ways I really could serve God. Maybe short stories were as long as I should go.
Thankfully, God has been faithful, and having decided to follow Him anyway, I’ve been pleased to find that none of that has been true. I’m always way more inclined to think God wants me to have to suffer for Him than He is, and this has been the case here as much as anywhere else. God wants me to enjoy my life, to have peace and joy in Him. Furthermore, He’s the one who’s given me all of these desires, dreams and stories. Why would He do that and then ultimately call me to toss them aside? I was so scared of enjoying anything when I first got here because I was afraid of falling in love with London, with being called to live here as a missionary, writing nothing more than blog posts and interviews for the rest of my life. But having been here for a couple of weeks, seeing what this lifestyle is, I know that barring some large and divine intervention from God, this isn’t for me. I am glad I’m here for this season and excited and open to live it and see what He does with it, but I also feel more confident that this is just a season. I feel more peace about being an author than ever before and, more importantly, I know that I wouldn’t have that if I hadn’t been willing to actually hand that stuff over. Had I never been willing to go to God and ask Him what He wanted me to do with my writing, I never would have found out that He really does want me to use it, that He doesn’t want to take it away. I am also more free to love London now, because I know it isn’t permanent, at least for now.
Score one for faith.
The second lesson of trust, though less hard to realize, is likely going to be harder to walk out, and that is being able to trust God for this season, particularly in regards to people.
One of the strangest things I’ve noticed about my time here is how quickly I made the change from noticing differences to criticizing them. The first week I was here, I couldn’t escape how different things were. My environment, housemates, situations and duties were all different from what they’d been back home, and the strangeness of it all, to say nothing of the fact I’d be living this way for five months, was so overwhelming, I thought my head would explode.
Then, by miraculous intervention, week two started and I adjusted. I wasn’t sick anymore, I found confidence in the way things are run, and I felt to a certain extent, “I can handle this.”
That, of course, is when the criticisms started. Now that I knew how things were run, I knew what I would change. More this, less that, more doing things “my way.” It’s disgusting how quickly it started, to say nothing of how stupid, unfounded or conflicting most of my reasons were.
Thankfully God has once more been faithful, in teaching me about authority, submission and ultimately that He uses all types.
Because the fact of the matter is, I came here to serve, to work under and alongside different people in a different culture and community for a set period of time, and though things might be run differently here than I am used to, that’s not my decision or my place, and if I fight that, by complaining, arguing or even simple obstinacy, I’m going to lose out on a lot that God has for me here that is different, things I couldn’t or wouldn’t learn if I only worked my way. I’ll create unnecessary conflict, disrespect my leaders (leaders God Himself has put in place) and ruin unity within the body, to say nothing of the lessons God has that I just won’t see.
God uses all types to do His work, and sometimes that means people, personalities or cultures that are different than mine. I can resist that and lose out, just like His plans for my life, or I can trust that God is the one leading and stretch and grow. I want to grow.
So bring it on, God. I will trust You.