I've always loved going, changing, and leaving because, as C.S. Lewis said, "there are far greater things ahead than any that we leave behind." At almost two years in Bogotá, I've beaten all my past records by living here the longest. I'm still here. But I can feel myself getting restless. And now is when I realize that it's scary to stay.
The new is fun. People back home are inspired by your faith, you form new relationships from 0-60 in no time at all because all the newbies are in desperate need of community: a family. Your failures don't matter as much because you're still new. And you hold this excuse like a security blanket. The excitement of seeing your comfort zone get smaller and smaller in your rearview brings a rush of adrenaline.
But then the scary moment comes, and you start to wonder "what's next." People back home begin to forget. Your relationships start to bend or even break. Your new family starts to see all your flaws. And you fail. Oh man, do you fail. You break the hearts of the ones you chose to love. You cry. You feel more lost than you've ever felt. You question every choice you've made thus far. Your comfort zone looks awfully comfy back there. You want to run again and start over with the new.
In 2017 I've experienced all of these things.
The other day I was starring into a mirror. Apart from the obvious imperfections on my eyelashes and eyebrows from getting my face lit on fire, I began to notice other details. My immediate reaction was to fix or to hide these blemishes, because I didn't want others to see it. I needed to be better. But then I thought about the family I have here. They know me. They've seen me at my very best and at my very worst. Several of them have seen the messy, uncensored parts of my heart. And they didn't leave. They're still here. These are people I've chosen to let in to help chisel me into the image of my Father. Jesus, I'm so thankful for this family that you have chosen to walk with me through this season. I can't wait to see how we change and what you call us to when we are tethered to you and busy at work, not focused on "what's next" (1 Kings 19:19-21).
I'm starting to see the fruit of staying. Last week, a friend at school challenged me to stay at ECA next year for the sake of staying, for the sake of leaving the "new" behind and entering the "potential failure" zone. It's terrifying. But I want to stay and fight; I want to grow in discipline. Even though I what I'm doing right now at ECA is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, God knows this. He also knows that I don't want to be single for the rest of my life. This doesn't mean that I can't be a good steward with this season that He's given me. God's given me new joy for this time, without looking ahead for "what's new."
As many of you know, every year I pick a word for the year to represent what I'm praying to see God do in my life that year. In 2017, my word was "dine" and Jesus challenged me to spend time being "wined and dined" by him, and to learn to receive from others, something that's always been uncomfortable for me. In 2018, my word is "tethered." I want to be so close to Jesus that I immediately feel the loss when I wander. And what better way to experience this than to stay here at ECA in Bogotá, to feel God tethering me to something.
Thanks, Fam. I love you. See you next year, El Camino.
Pretty much all the teachers and staff at school have this song on repeat this Christmas season. How encouraging that God's plan is waiting.