This time last year, I was getting ready to board a plane that would take me to South Africa. Being in South Africa was a great experience. My trip was clouded with a lot of emotional wreckage though. I certainly wasn’t spiritually or emotionally prepared. And I don’t mean in the sense that God was going to turn my world upside down kind of unprepared. I didn’t even have the capacity to let God do that. Looking back, my treasured moments from that trip are the nights at my host family’s house, watching Wimbledon, or the wedding of the Prince of Monaco to that swimmer from South Africa. My host parents, Leon and Dalene, became my surrogate parents, and that home, with the two cats and two dogs, became my surrogate home. They took care of me. And I needed it.
This time last year – last summer – was the hardest time of my life. So many things changed. In the time span of one month, I: 1) started an online class, my first class in 8 years; 2) Stopped teaching piano; 3) quit my job; 4) moved to a new town; 5) and went on an overseas mission trip. I do not advise this much change in such a short span. Also, due to my not thinking about the financial future, my bank account was severely depleting with no paychecks coming. After coming back from South Africa, I saw the last Harry Potter movie in DC (I haven’t seen a movie in a theater since), and then went running to my family in Ohio for a month to save money, rest, stock up on unconditional love, and try to figure out how in the world I was going to make it. I was so completely lost.
Now, I am so thankful that it’s now, and not last year. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s important for me to acknowledge God’s faithfulness in that between times of trial, He grants respite. I’m only halfway done with my certificate for music therapy. I’m literally starting my masters program today with two new classes. Eventually (maybe even next summer), I will have another season of major change, filled with uncertainty. But I think when it happens next, I’ll be able to weather it all a little bit better. I’ve learned some things about myself.
Everybody who knows me knows that I need time alone. A lot. I love people. But I need to get away from you all for long periods of time in order to be a normal human being. I’ve learned that the lack of that works the same way as lack of sleep or lack of food. It is essential to my daily living. Over the past year I’ve had the blessing of solitude. Sometimes there wasn’t enough. Sometimes there was too much and I got pretty lonely. But I function so much better when I’ve had time to myself. And I think it’s because I’m the type of person who has overactive senses, and I take in everything when I walk into a situation. I’m overstimulated, whether it be with the actual physical landscape, the nature of the conversation I’m having, or the amount of information I’m taking in over a short period of time. I need to go home, sit by myself, and process that.
I’m also learning that, in the words of my dear friend Tobi, “you get to the point where it’s too tiring to be anything but yourself.” I’m learning to love myself more, because God loves me just as I am. It’s a slow process and I’m still working on it. But, it really is less exhausting to just be yourself.
I’m learning that you really can live on very little. This is what you need to cut out of your spending: eating out, buying clothes, and instant purchases. To add to that, when you finally justify after several conversations with yourself that it’s okay to eat out this one time, or it might be a good idea to buy a new dress for a special occasion, and you’ve worked it into your budget, it’s so much more meaningful. Also, Netflix is the best thing to happen ever.
With all of that said, here are some things I miss:
1. I miss a lot of my friends in DC. I don’t really miss DC.
2. I miss going to the movies (I’m allowing myself to see two this summer, Brave and The Dark Knight Rises.)
3. I miss daily life without the constant guilt of the fact that I’m not studying. (I don’t get a break from classes this summer.)
4. I miss travel! Seeing pictures on Facebook of people traveling, especially overseas makes my heart ache. Not for them! I’m happy for them. I love travel. But it’s one of those things that I won’t get to do for a few more years, and when it does happen, it will probably be the best trip of my life! (as long as it’s not in the middle of an avalanche of change. I’ve learned my lesson on that.)
5. This isn’t really an “I miss” comment, but…I really want a dog! I absolutely love dogs and as soon as I get settled with my job and home and everything, I’m getting myself a dog. I don’t care if they tie you down.
So, wherever you are in life, thank God for where He’s taken you. If your life sucks right now, remember that God knew this was all going to happen and He will provide a way out for you, if you trust in Him. The sucky period just might be the marinade you need for a richer life later on. If your life is great, thank God for it, but to stay humble, remember the crappy times. For me, simply the fact that I’m used to being a student now, I’m happier in my own skin, and I don’t have to move this summer, is enough for me.
And that the Olympics are happening in one month. In London, my favorite city.