Spring is already upon us, and in less than three weeks, I will leave the familiar and board a plane bound for the Land of the Rising Sun, a place I have never seen with my own eyes yet feel connected to somewhere deep inside.
With preparations filling my plate, grandiose blogging plans have sadly fallen by the wayside, but I want to make every effort to properly document and share my experience from the time I leave to the time I return!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I have struggled over the inability to go to Japan. Multiple avenues were available, but none of them panned out. Even my study trip was starting to look like it wouldn’t happen. But then realization struck–what good would it really do to stay a few weeks in a country I love, reaping benefit only for myself? How much would really change after coming back home? Besides, just visiting was never the ideal option for me. It was acquiescence to a perpetual lack of funding (which I am determined to change). It takes me a long time to develop relationships, and I must invest a great deal of energy to maintain them. Five weeks would be fun, but not long enough to truly connect with anyone or make any difference in their lives.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Now that my trip is not just about me, it’s mind-blowing how much faster everything is coming together. I applied for a mission trip and was accepted and trained over four intensive days in Detroit.
During Short-Term Training, we shared our testimonies in front of our fellow “short-termers”. God revealed to me that night how, without knowing anything about the others, I had automatically cast myself as an outsider, based solely on their appearances and mannerisms. I automatically, instinctively labeled myself a reject. But hearing everyone’s testimonies showed me how much we all had in common–loneliness, rejection, mistreatment, pain, fear, and despite it all, freedom in Christ. I learned that I didn’t have to subconsciously exclude myself from “the group” because “the group” includes all of us.
My value is not assigned to me by some superior. It is intrinsic. I am so grateful for that.
Further, I am allowed to be myself, and to walk my own path. That is, blindly chasing after artists, business leaders, and other people I deem as successful is not necessarily the smartest idea. I already have a path to walk; I just have to open my eyes and see it instead of searching for everyone else’s paths and claiming theirs is better than mine.
Now, I believe God lays out our paths. We can choose whether to walk it or not, but I think there is great reward in doing so. It’s a bit like off-roading, hiking, or mountain-biking in the sense that it’s definitely not a smoothly-paved asphalt road. It’s full of rocks, ditches, tree roots and shrubs, but coming out on the other side is wonderful. Often, it means you can get to a view you wouldn’t have been able to reach in your cushy car. 😉
So this path is unexpected. It surprises me. But as I unload the baggage of expectations and open up to new horizons, I sense that this path will take me somewhere amazing.
Just let me go put on my hiking shoes. 😛