Life is full of changes. We are always having to adjust to something. To live and be a part of the world is to experience change. I have been thinking all day about this curious thing called life. Why does a child long so much to grow up, only to discover as an adult all they want to be is a child again? I watch my little cousin grow up and I wonder at time and how it passes. This particular chapter in life leaves me with so many things to ponder.
Tonight as I was driving home from meeting a friend, it struck me how short my time is left in the United States. I leave Nashville in less than a month to go home for a few weeks before I move overseas. I started thinking through all the things that I am going to miss: driving through downtown at night blasting Daughtry, gazing at the city skyline with all the lights glowing, having freedom, actually driving my own car, being alone. A part of me just wanted to cry, because I realized how much I really love these things. In fact, I have fought hard to have these things for so long. Now after just a few short months of living here, I am giving it all up. I am leaving. I am saying goodbye.
Leaving a life that I love and people that I love is so hard. There are so many emotions flying around inside of me. I can be completely excited one moment with not a cloud in the sky and then I blink and all I want to do is cry. It is a mourning process. It is a rollercoaster ride of feelings and junk. However, throughout this whole ordeal, I am choosing to remember that saying goodbye to my life here is not the only thing that I am doing. I am also saying hello to something new that God has ordained in my life. Just like there are things that I love and treasure here in Nashville, there will be things that I will love and treasure in South America. Life is full of twists and turns and changes and experiences.
I feel like my worldview is constantly under construction. This place in my life is so interesting. I have lived enough years to have many memories and experiences to look back on, but I also have many years of future in front of me, if God allows. I am coming to the point in my life where I realize that the majority of the people I meet are only around for a while, and then they become a memory. I am finally beginning to realize that it’s ok that way. We can’t stay best friends with everyone we’ve ever known forever. There’s a saying going around on Facebook that says something like, “You don’t lose friends. You just realize who your real friends are.” I have a hard time agreeing with this statement. I believe I have had some amazing and close friends over the years and at one point or another we have come to a crossroads and parted ways. I still consider them my real friends even though we do not keep in close contact anymore. Life sometimes leads us in different directions, and change is a part of everything. We can’t constantly live in the past or dedicate all our time to trying to keep alive things that are only for a season. Sometimes doors close, and sometimes other ones open. Fact of life. If you haven’t yet realized this, then your reality check is on its way and will show up at your door soon.
Another thing that is curious to me is that God sometimes leads us to things and then away from things and it doesn’t always make sense. He calls us to many things that don’t necessarily seem to have a reason. There are certainly some questions that I have for Him, but I’m sure that someday I will come to understand why certain things turned out they way they did…maybe. Maybe I never will. I don’t understand why I was only in Nashville for such a short time when I was planning on being here much longer. What I do know is that I have grown up more in the past 10 months than I have perhaps at any other point in my life. I have learned more about life and myself than I ever dreamed I would, and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that without all the molding and shaping that God has done in me through this experience, I would not be remotely ready to move to South America. I’m sure that many more challenges and learning experiences are forthcoming, but looking back over my life until this point, I can see how God directed and used every moment that I gave back to Him. He never wastes time or tears. He’s good like that.
One thing that I have learned about the changing of chapters and phases in life is that the more changes I experience, the more I am aware of what is constant. That pretty much leaves God. Although my understanding of Him changes as I grow closer to Him, I can stand confident in His unchanging character and these simple truths that hold me together: He loves me, He loves the world, He knows better than me, He has a purpose for my life, this purpose is bigger and more important than me, and He will carry to completion the work He started. Although He is into breaking down every mold and barrier anyone can place on Him and the way He works doesn’t always make sense to us, I know that He is good. It is because of these unchanging things that I can move forward and trust His heart, because I know who He is. My God can never be untrue to who He is.
Each step of the way, it seems that I am saying goodbye to something else. My life is in utter turmoil right now and I am feeling so many emotions, yet through it all I have an incredible peace. I know without a doubt that God has called me to move to South America. A lot of people would be critical of my confidence, but I can guarantee those people have never grown close enough to God to take a risk with Him. He is more than capable of communicating His will to us, and when that is what we desire, it is impossible to overlook. He may reveal it to us in stages, but He makes each step clear as it comes time for us to do what He has asked. God never leaves us in a comfortable place for long because our trust and reliance on Him is more important to Him than what we like or have grown accustomed to. He knows that it is better for us to trust Him rather than be comfortable. God “messes up” our lives in a variety of ways, and it looks different for every person. However, in any case we must remember that He is good and that we can trust His heart.
The beautiful thing about following God into the unknown and saying goodbye to some things is that we can say hello to something greater. It’s like walking toward the sunrise, into the sunrise. We can rest in the knowledge that God will not let us fall. We may experience failures and disappointments along the way, but through each stumble we learn to recognize the truer success that comes through following God’s will and living out our purpose for which He created us. I have discovered more joy with every passing day than I knew the day before as I have drawn closer and closer to Him. I have more confidence today than at any time in the past that God will come through even when things seem impossible. Sometimes especially when things seem impossible. And it is always amazing. It never leaves any room for credit to go to anyone but Him. I am beyond excited to see how He will come through in this next step. I am excited to see how He uses this experience to draw my friends and family closer to Him. Though there is much I cannot see, I choose to trust His heart.
Now I say goodbye to all that I used to know. I say goodbye to how I have seen and understood the world up until this point. I say goodbye to my insecurities, fears, and reservations. I say goodbye to everything I thought I wanted and needed. I am saying hello to so much more. I say hello to a life of radical obedience to God. I say hello to faith that can move mountains. I say hello to seeing God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. May God use my hands, my feet, and everything I am to show His love to those who do not know it and shine His light to those who have lived in darkness for far too long. May He shine His light into the deep corners of my heart that I might be changed to look more like Him. May the things in my life that held me back or misrepresented Christ be stripped away that I might be a real and genuine reflection of His grace. I am saying hello to the sunrise. Hello, God.