As of last Monday evening around 6pm, I landed in an airport I had actually been in before – where the intercom announcements were made in English and the subtle Chicago paraphernalia felt like another lifetime’s familiarity. My eight weeks in Europe, and my three months of travel (to the day) following my departure from a normal job and life in St. Louis, have come to an end. Since I’m a big fan of proper closure, here’s a final post in the Europe saga.
First and foremost, there are a lot of thank you’s to be presented. Thank you God for infinitely more than I can express in a humble blog post — but for now, for bringing me home safely and for sustaining and leading me each step of the way. Thank you friends who read my blog posts; who sent me emails or checked in with me on Facebook; who PRAYED for me while I was gone and who listen to my stories now that I’m back on American soil. Thank you numerous new friends around the world — Alaska, Africa, and Europe — for your unsummarizable (no, I don’t think that’s a real word) hospitality and love. I was fed, housed, driven around, paid for, directed, invested in, taught, challenged, counseled, and included in so many more ways than I ever could have hoped or imagined. I met people with whom I will remain friends for a lifetime and who I now miss dearly. I was humbled by the completeness with which I was taken care of not just by God but through my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you one and all.
Second, I’d like to share just an inkling of what I learned from this crazy adventure. Here are some of the biggest lessons I hope never to forget:
- God is faithful.
- God is faithful.
- God is faithful. (I listed it three times because yes, I’ve already forgotten this even in just the past week that I’ve been home.)
- I need to improve at graciously accepting hospitality. Sometimes my desire to be self-sufficient and unburdensome comes across as rude and repelling. I’ve had multiple upfront conversations with friends who I trust both at home and abroad over the last three months revealing that very truth. Who knew.
- Conversely, I witnessed olympic displays of hospitality this summer and I learned how excited I am for the day when I can be the one extending hospitality instead of receiving it.
- It’s possible to simply enjoy and engage in the present without knowing exactly what will happen next. At the beginning of the summer, I was so focused on figuring out what the plan was (whether that looked like the schedule for the day or my next geographical destination) that I spent a lot of mental and emotional energy being frustrated or worried. But then I discovered a revelatory notion: why not just stop being worried? By that I don’t mean putting off prudent action steps. It’s important to plan, to be savvy, and to be diligent. But when you’ve done all you can, that’s all the effort you need to put in. I discovered this summer how nice it is to leave the outcome completely in God’s hands and disengage from the worry I thought I was entitled, and obligated, to endure.
So many more lessons were learned this summer, big and small, but I can’t possibly list them all here. That will have to do for this post. Finally, here’s a brief status update to wrap up. I returned to the States because I was invited to be a part of the coaching staff for a women’s basketball program at a small university very close to where I grew up in Chicagoland. I believe this is God’s next step for me so I’m going with it. It’s not a full-time gig, so in order to make it work I need to find housing and another part time job in the area. That’s what I’m working on at the moment. But if this is where God wants me, He’ll come through and provide what I need. If I’ve learned anything over the summer, I hope I learned that much.
A final thank you to everyone who invests in and cares for me — thank you all. I hope to see each of you soon and share more about my adventures in person. Until then, God bless and I’ll continue to post here about random thoughts and major life happenings for whoever would like to read.