So today, in honor of the fall break from my grad school program that I have through tomorrow, I have been working on a project that has been ongoing for quite a number of years. I was making some notes when I wrote one sentence that actually stopped me from continuing:
“Where do I go from here?”
Without thinking about it, I had written one of the most fear-ridden questions that people ask themselves every day.
I have done _______, so now what?
Is this all over?
Will I ever see this person again?
What does this mean for our friendship?
When I was leaving my mission field this summer, this was the main question that everyone was constantly talking about. Our leader wanted to know if we had any goals for ourselves once our team returned to the states. A huge part of the debriefing process in Orlando with Pioneers was connected with this question of, essentially, “So…now what? Is it all over?”
A few weeks later, in mid-August, me and about 45 other people were hit with that question again as we started a grad school program in social work. “Congrats! You got through the application process. Welcome to the university.”
So…now…where do we go from here? What specific area of social work are we going to be doing? It felt weird being back in school again- I had apparently gotten used to having income and free time! (strange, right?).
I have found through my experiences though that the largest things that can cause me to let fear creep into my mind does not really concern my circumstances, environment, or even my future as much as the people who are in my life. Going back to this summer again, when I left for France I had moved from Chapel Hill, where I had spent the last five-six years, back to my hometown of Charlotte just two days before my flight left for training. I arrived overseas, in addition to being jet-lagged and disoriented “mourning the change”, so to speak. And by leaving this place that for years had provided a sense of security, friendship, and support through my church, I wasn’t just going to a different city; I was going to a different country, language, peer group, and so forth. If I wasn’t ready to leave Chapel Hill yet, I was certainly going out with a bang.
“So…what do I do now?” definitely ran through my head. More than once. I won’t attempt to count the number of times, actually, but it is a safe bet that it was well into the double digits. This sudden immersion of not necessarily knowing how to communicate with people combined with me just plain missing my best friends and job led to me not really quite being myself for the first few weeks.
I have already summed up my experiences in France in former blog posts, so I am not trying to reiterate the past constantly here. But the question of “Where do I go from here?” is something that has constantly weighed on my mind.
Something that going from living in three different cities in the span of a few months did for me though was help me to realize how sometimes you are taken out of your comfort zone to grow in your dependence on God. There are questions that I have about my future where if I could just ask God “Hey, when is this going to happen, will I ever get married, where am I going to be working” and so forth, and then receive an answer, I would be a lot more content internally. Things would certainly be a lot easier.
But that approach, even if it was possible, does not require any faith. It is just me impatiently demanding for answers.
When I ask “Where do I go from here?”, I have found more with time that instead of a clear answer, I meet people, have conversations or go through experiences that slowly shape my decision making and future in a way that I would not have understood had I even been able to see the future.
What can be taken from this is that my confidence doesn’t lie in where I am going, or even how I am getting there, but who is leading me along the way.