Whenever I feel anticipation, it always seems to cause this divide between two sides of my spirit. One part of me is like a little girl and wants to sprint forward in excitement. She sees the potential of every situation and craves the adventure. The other part of me, wants to dig my heels firmly in the ground and not move from that which is comfortable. This feeling has moments where one side dominates the other and usually leaves me sitting, in the endless in-between, wanting whatever it is to come so I can just move on.
Many people that I’ve spoken to about my year abroad have said that it will be an amazing ride, a truly changing experience. I don’t doubt that but I also don’t want to be naïve and think that I won’t face major change and challenges. During my freshman year of college, I was eager to move to a new state and start my life over. Little did I realize that just because you move locations, doesn’t mean your unresolved problems go away. If anything, more challenges are created because you’re faced with entirely new situations. Being in Brazil for an entire year guarantees new challenges and I don’t want to be oblivious to that this time. Because of this, I had been living in fear for the majority of my preparation for this trip. I felt that I might be walking into an experience knowing it could be too hard, knowing it would push my limits and it wouldn’t be comfortable. This has been particularly frustrating for me because I feel that I’ve just regained some sense of home after being lost. Regardless of that fact, I signed up for a year abroad and was incredibly hesitant to give up that which I had worked so hard for.
I consciously knew this would be a priceless experience, but in all the logistical preparation I neglected to prepare my heart. Not only did I not really know how, but I was also purposefully ignoring it because I didn’t want to face it. Yesterday as I was looking around my room for the last time until Christmas, and I felt a huge wave of anticipation sit and make itself comfortable in my gut.
Imagine an amusement park; I had waited all this time in the hot and crowded line to get on a ride everyone says is absolutely thrilling. I loved the idea of it but once I’m actually buckled, in my seat, gazing at the track before me I’m feeling pretty terrified. As I packed the last things in my carry on bag I realized that, like riding a roller coaster, there was no going back. No returning halfway if I found I didn’t like it or got scared, and last night I was smacked across the face with fear. As my coaster pulls away from the platform and rises, time slows and my heart flutters. My mind races with the irrational, “What if something breaks, what if I get hurt, what if this wasn’t the right decision?” Just before we crest, my mind wonders if there’s in fact any track beyond the peak at all.
A beautiful thing I reminded myself is that I am a child of God! He is like a headlamp and illuminates the path just before us. All I can do is trust Him enough to take the next step, be faithful, and have assurance in what cannot be seen (Heb 11:11). So here I am now on my plane to Brazil, metaphorically at the top of my coaster’s peak, and I have absolutely nowhere to go but forward into the unknown. I feel that the world is simply still. I have an eternal second to see above all else, to be closest to God and my heart is quiet. I have trusted God throughout this entire planning process and he wouldn’t deliver me this far just to have me fall. I am not in control of everything but I don’t need to be.
I know that things will come my way this year that I could have never dreamed about had I stayed at home. I will probably come out of this year looking and feeling like a new person. Going through twists and turns and loop-de-loops that take my breath away, I’ll be scared, but hopefully I’ll also have some fun. Change is not always an easy thing, but it’s the only constant we’re guaranteed. So here I come Rio, with a bubbling scream in my throat and hands held high, give me all you’ve got!