Friday, June 20, 2008

Stop and Stare. . . turning 31

I recently realized that I haven't written a blog since last August! When I came to this realization I had to step back and wonder why. Well, it's all coming together and today, the eve of my 31st birthday, is a good time to reflect back on the last year and look forward to the next year.

First and foremost is Jamaica. I returned from Jamaica last summer depleted. . . emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. I was at a point in my "career" with Jamaica where I just wasn't sure where the next step was. It was an awesome summer, and year in general, as I had spent a large portion of my time in Jamaica. I had met new friends, experienced new things (not the least of which was a Cat. 4 hurricane. . .thanks Dean!), and learned a lot. But I still wasn't sure what direction I was going in. Like the One Republic song, I've been feeling like I'm "moving but I go nowhere". So, 9 months have passed and I've just recently been figuring out what's goin' on:

I've realized that my goal/dream for the past 15 years, when I graduated high-school and God told me I was supposed to be a missionary, was to "live in Jamaica and be a missionary". The problem is that is a very broad calling and the details have never really filled themselves in like I expected them to. So for the past 15 years I feel like I've put anything permanent in my life on hold unless it had something to do with life in Jamaica. This means never committing to something that wasn't directly related to my "future life in Jamaica". So, no new car. . . still renting. . . broken relationships. . . (and that's just the tip of the iceberg) all because they didn't fall in line with what I was expecting to happen. A big struggle that came with that, and has recently shown itself more clearly, has always been deciding between having a family and doing mission work. . . because they have never seemed to be able to work together. I have always assumed it was one or the other. It's always been, "My goal is to live in Jamaica in 2. . . 3. . . 5 years". 15 years later and I'm still not there!

But God's smart! As always He knows what He's doing, and why, and He's in control! I was recently reading a book and I came to a chapter that basically talked about deciphering your call. And it challenged me to step back and really analyze what I loved about doing mission work in Jamaica. As I was reading this (and because of other circumstances in my life) I realized that what I really loved about my experiences in missions has been seeing God pushing teenagers and adults to a new level through their experience with the Jamaicans. And of course I love the Jamaicans and have built strong relationships with them, but I believe that ministry through short-term missions goes both ways. I love ministering to the Jamaicans but at the same time they minister to me, and the team members, on a whole new level. And seeing Americans changed through their experience is really what gets my blood pumping and is what brings me closer to God.

Through this realization I have decided that until God makes it clear that he wants me to physically go and live in Jamaica, I believe my calling is to work with the teams and bring that ministry to a whole new level. This means that I would still get to go to Jamaica regularly and I would also be able to have a life here . . . one full of commitments! And this has taken a huge burden off my heart and I feel so much lighter and I feel like I now have a much more specific goal to work towards. And now I don't have to keep putting my life on hold and I can finally commit to things (and people). And the absolute best part is that I know that this is what God wants me to do, at least for the time being. And it feels great to be turning 31 tomorrow and to have a renewed relationship with God, because of my better understanding of His purpose for me, and a whole new direction to take my life in.

I know this next year won't have me feeling like I'm "moving, but going nowhere"!

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