Moving away from your life at 23 across the world and starting over was never in my life plan. Actually I never really had much of a life plan at all. I saw myself finishing school, being a teacher, getting married, having kids and living in the same place I grew up...my kids going to the same schools I did, having the same opportunities and being a art of the same community.
Not that this was a bad plan, or would have been a bad life. Actually, I think it would have been a pretty great life.
Anxiety disorder shifted the plans of teaching when attending university was suddenly not a plausible reality and the dream of marriage with the boy I loved in a very Dawson and Joey type of way ended.
Suddenly, the few plans I had fell away and I felt exposed and so very vulnerable. When my health began to improve, and there was light and possibility in my world again I felt very calm about the new purpose I had discovered for life. Nothing specific, but I just knew that I had been healed, through the prayers and love of my family and church and there was a greater purpose for my life now. More than just picking up where I had left off.
This was when I found information about YWAM and got connected with the organization which would be the vessel through which Jesus decided to completely shatter what I thought I knew, and rebuild my heart in His image.
I headed to Seattle and from there to Thailand, China, and Zambia, with stops in Canada, Costa Rica, Texas, California, Montana, Connecticut too. All these places, were a part of the story. Meetings with people who'd God given passions and gifts challenged, inspired and changed me. Times of worship that allowed me freedom to find expressions of worship that were my own. Ministry opportunities which dragged me from my comfort zone and forced my hands to gt dirty in ways that humbled me to the core and revealed my still selfish and fearful heart.
My experience taught me how to serve; how to love and how to pray. I had the opportunity to walk with others on their faith journey, to challenge them, and even more be challenged myself. I found a passion for discipleship, and passion to see others step more fully in the story God was writing with their lives and it continues to be a joy and blessing to watch their lives, God at work, as we remain in touch.
In those years I discovered a passion for Africa, and for the beauty of that nation. A part of life God continues to shape and refine and a chapter God is not done with yet.
I have no regrets of my time in ministry. Some of those I worked with left with hurts and frustrations. Anger even at God, and what their service had cost them. I feel so blessed that my story is different. I am not sure why I came out unscathed but I am thankful that is the case. My life changed for the better because of my experiences and because of the people that were my family for so many years.
For a long time I felt a big divide between the life i had known in England and the new life I had here. I wasn't sure how the two connected and I felt the strain of being a link between two different worlds but over time and thanks to technology and therapy this is much less of an issue.
I have had a good life, in England and in Seattle, I have had a good life. I have had good friends, constantly been surrounded with people to laugh with and people who wanted to know me and were open to being known by me.
Just yesterday I took a brief trip down memory lane commenting on a photo taken on my last day of high school, a friend had posted and another friend and I went back and forth laughing about our adventures and especially one memorable teacher (thanks Fahan and Nicola), It made me feel all warm. I miss home, and yet, I am home.
I miss England. I am sad that I miss family gatherings, birthday bar-B-Q's. I am sad that while many of my high school friends remain close, the distance has prevented that from being my story. I will miss terribly being around for the hype of the Royal wedding. For a little country, the air is electric for events like that, or football matches, or 'who shot Phil Mitchell' episodes of Eastenders. There are so many, many wonderful things about the place I was raised. My love of celebration comes from my upbringing for sure, my understanding of church as community is rooted in the decades of attendance at SBC, But I bring it all with me.
I brought what life in England had formed and allowed Seattle to continue to shape me. While I hope, leaving a little of the lessons from England on those I meet here...and so it continues. Life, that is. And life is Good.
Been thinking a lot about how I got here. To today. Funny how they bad stuff is easily forgotten, but the good still makes me smile.