Any of my close friends can tell you that the one dream I have for my life is to live abroad. I’ve talked about it since the summer I spent three weeks studying at Oxford with my seminary classmates.
I don’t trust myself or my heart enough to believe that just any dream that I have is God-given. But I do know that while this dream does seem a little self-satisfying, it also satisfies my God-given heart for missions and being a part of the work He is doing around the globe.
For years, I’ve participated in short-term mission trips within the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and I’ve traveled internationally for vacations, but my participation in international missions has been mainly in the form of finances and prayer support.
I’ve longed to go myself–and not just on a short-term trip–but to plant myself for an extended period of time in a culture that is different from the one I’ve always known. My career as a teacher was an easy ticket for international employment, but I was also a homeowner and, after several discussions with my realtor, I faced the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. I wasn’t unhappy teaching, but I felt like I was stuck in autopilot, and if I wasn’t careful I would eventually stifle my heart for the nations and forget that I ever had it.
And then everything changed.
As in, I spent Christmas with my family one day and the next day I had a dinner conversation with a dear friend who told me that the Lord revealed to him that I was a good fit for the new business venture he was embarking upon. The Lord miraculously sold my house in February, I turned in my resignation at the beginning of May, and I began my new job in September.
And that doesn’t even get into the beauty of my new job, which doesn’t really have a title because it encompasses so many different areas of interest for me. I’m part blogger, editor, event planner, social media manager, virtual assistant, travel agent, and project manager. I even work from home. (And, yes, on Mondays I might find it difficult to transition out of my pajamas. Don’t judge.)
But the thing is: God has now removed every possible obstacle from my path that was preventing me from actually going. I could not be more relieved.
And I could not be more terrified.
Because now, I can actually go. It’s no longer a dream for me, it can be a reality. So all of those times I talked about what I would do one day? One day is here. My job allows me to work from anywhere on the planet. And my friend/boss fully supports me being involved in the work God is doing in another country.
“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it…The rule exists in story because it’s a true thing about people. Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn’t all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better.” –Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Miller is right. I had to have a reckoning with my comfort and order issues (also known as “my flesh”), so that I could follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Maybe your story is slightly different from mine, but you need to actually take a step toward doing whatever it is that God is calling you to do. While I’m no expert on overcoming fears, for now I’m mainly trying to focus on three things. Maybe they can help encourage you, too.
1. Prayer. It’s so obvious, yet so easily the first thing to be dismissed because of my Type-A, plan and do personality. I still have a lot of questions and need some clarity and that will come through prayer.
2. Accountability. I had to hear myself say it out loud to someone, to several people. I had to tell them what I was feeling and considering so that when it actually came time to take a step and do something, I wouldn’t bail. It’s much easier to chicken out when no one knows the step of faith you’re called to take. I asked them to hold me accountable and to pray for me. As a single adult, the importance of community and accountability cannot be overstated.
3. Research. I have friends on the field all over the world, and I’m in the process of seeing if there is a place for me to work alongside them for a period of time. I’m also looking into other recommendations by friends and friends of friends. I am completely open, and I still have plenty of time to make a decision.
I’m not 100% sure that this time next year I’ll be typing blog posts from the other side of the globe. (What’s directly opposite DFW on the globe anyway? Hmm. I need to check that out.) But I do know that it would be a far worse thing to be dealing with regret.
*Photo credit: tuppus