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A Year in the Midwest

June 30, 2018

It’s hard to believe that I have lived in Wisconsin for almost a year now. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in the states for a year now, too. I’m not actually even sure how I feel about that. When I arrived back in California at the end of 2016, it was only supposed to be a Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years trip and then I planned to go back overseas again, albeit to a different country than before. But then God either closed all the doors or didn’t give me peace about any of the leads I was pursuing, and so I waited. To be honest, I didn’t wait very patiently, either. I tried to be patient, but it just felt like I was being lazy. Living in my brother’s house just….living. Oh, the time with family and being back in clean, comfortable America was amazing, to be sure. After a challenging year in Fiji, I felt spoiled rotten with warm showers on demand, constant electricity, air conditioning, all the different cuisines I could ever want, nobody trying to touch me as I walked down the street, not having to ride in sketchy taxis with drivers who only want to talk about your marital status, and all the time spent with my nieces and nephews. But I was also itching for direction. For purpose. It was a far more challenging time than I had anticipated. I have never been very patient, and I struggled with being patient and waiting on God because I felt like I needed to be doing something. Making progress in life. Growing and creating. I struggled with just enjoying the gift of quiet after such a loud, chaotic year. God must have known I needed it, but I was growing restless. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing anything. I did take three international trips while I was home. I subbed in my brother’s high school class for a few weeks and had a blast with those teens. I helped watch my nieces and nephews and thoroughly enjoyed all the time with them.

But I wanted a plan. I wanted dreams I was allowed to pursue.

And that’s probably the most ridiculous part of it because 5 years ago I told God I was giving Him all my plans and that He could send me anywhere and I would be willing to do anything. I wanted to live completely by faith. And through that, over and over again, He’s shown me just how incredibly amazing it is to live by faith. And yet, the planner inside of me never really completely died. She still pops up from time to time wanting to plan and scheme and know what will be in the future.

This living by faith thing is often a lot harder than it sounds. Thankfully, I’ve learned that it’s also incredibly rewarding.

But sometimes when God is quiet it can be tempting to think, “maybe this isn’t where I am supposed to be. Maybe I’m supposed to be somewhere else and I missed the memo.”

I know He sent me here. But I often ask myself, why? Why am I in Wisconsin? Why am I just living and working a job in America? It’s comfortable. It’s so easy, this American life. I don’t feel like I am growing much. I don’t feel like I’m making a difference. Not in any big way, anyway. It’s forcing me to look for little ways to make a difference. To invest in students’ lives. To seek out relationships I can pour myself into. It’s forcing me to choose contentment, sometimes on a daily basis. And that is a good lesson to learn. Living overseas taught me to appreciate all the little things, and I think I learned it well.

Now living back in America is teaching me to choose contentment when things seem slow, or life seems at a standstill. When my restless heart wants things to change. When I want to see meaning and purpose in the mundane and I just don’t see it. When I ask God “what is it that I am supposed to be accomplishing here? Why did you send me here? Am I learning the lessons I am supposed to learn, am I growing in ways I am supposed to be growing, am I fulfilling your purpose in sending me here? “

I don’t ever want to just live to live. I want to make a difference. I want to be stretched and challenged and inspired. And when I don’t see that, it’s so tempting to question God. Question my ability to sense His leading.

I don’t know why He saw fit to lead me to stay in America or to send me to the midwest. It’s been a beautiful adventure, and I am so thankful for it. I’m thankful for the new friends He has sent my way, and for the old friends He let me reconnect with. I might not understand yet exactly why I am here, but I will continue to try and learn the lessons He’s brought along my path. I will keep seeking out intentional living. And I will do my best to keep learning how to wait on Him. It’s not always easy, but I know His way is perfect and He does all things well.

Here’s to another year of adventures in this beautiful state. Who knows what the future holds, but I’m choosing to rest and be content for however long the path leads me through Wisconsin.

 

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