A third life
Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived two different lives. There’s the life I live now, with bills, responsibilities, a massive agenda, and a constant struggle to get things accomplished. This life is full of stuff, full of things. Between grading papers, teaching classes, speaking at events, and trying to organize people, I must find time to devote to family and faith. It’s a complicated, busy life. It’s busy, but also so beautiful, full of people I love and things I cherish. It’s stretching, as I don’t always know how exactly I am to fit in here.
But, it’s life. It’s a typical, American life. I spend my weekends balancing our budget, buying groceries, and cleaning 970 square feet of space. Sundays are beautiful at church, where I serve and worship with several thousand amazing people. My weeks are full of work and volunteer commitments, with a coffee date or dinner meeting with a girlfriend to maintain and grow the many amazing friendships I’m blessed with. I play with my dog and spend time with my husband. I try to do kind things for others, like take a meal to a friend who has just had a baby, or help out at a charity event. I do my best to make eye contact and speak with the people I see who are homeless, and even will give them money from time to time. I think I do a lot, or at least I try to.
The other life I’ve lived seems to be in contrast with this life now. It’s not better or worse, just different. This life was lived on another continent. It was full of adventure, whimsy, and a lack of a schedule. The agenda some days was to just have tea with some neighbors, learning about who they are. In India, a short bus ride would take me to a community many people have only seen in movies. In Sudan, the bumpy motorbike ride resulted in time spent in an isolated community with mud huts and few people. In Indonesia, I drove myself across town to drink coffee in a shack built by driftwood left over from the Tsunami. My entire day was devoted to living life with people. I wore out phrasebooks struggling to communicate, but eventually I was able to bond without words. I danced, sang songs, and played. I played a lot. Life moved much more slowly, but it was just as beautiful.
When I reflect on these memories, this life seems to have happened eons ago. I look through the pictures sometimes and wonder “Did I really do that?” “Was I really there?” It literally seems like another lifetime. And it’s easy to reminisce and think fondly of those times, when there were no bills to pay and no places to be. Sometimes I miss the simplicity and the pure adventure of my trips abroad. Sometimes I wish things could be simple like they were when I was traveling. I’m not wishing away my life now by any means, just missing the simplicity. And granted, I easily forget the difficult times I had abroad. The onslaught of trauma and pain, the culture shock, spiritual heaviness, and homesickness were intense at times, and they made me wish to be home. You know the saying “The grass is always greener?” Yeah, that’s me. If I’m not careful, that’s me all the time.
But ultimately I believe that something is coming. God is preparing our hearts for a grand adventure. I’m currently reading “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker. God shook Jen’s heart and changed the trajectory of her family’s life. I feel like he can do that for all of us. I’m not necessarily going to return to life overseas (though I miss it greatly) nor am I wishing to obsess over an impossible schedule (as ‘pious’ as it may be). No, I’m thinking there’s something more. The waters are being stirred. The tide just may be shifting. God has called all of us to do amazing things, to change the world for Him. I know where I’ve been, but I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. But there’s another life out there, a third life so to speak- a life lived for something far greater. What does that look like for me? I don’t know yet. What does it look like for you?