Last summer I truly believed I would never experience anything so uncomfortable as moving halfway across the world to serve in an HIV clinic in New Delhi. This year, however, I moved back to the city I grew up in and entered graduate school. I didn’t know it would be just as difficult. For once I knew all the street names but I felt more lost than I ever did wandering the streets of Delhi. (Ok, so I also have a poor sense of direction.)
This year’s motto has felt like “almost but not yet.” One foot in the future waiting for things to get better, waiting for God to answer, waiting for the next best thing to come along. The present was merely a stretch of interminable time that must be endured. I was suddenly confronted with the fact that life is often messier than planned and God has called us to invest in where we are. Then I finally took to heart the lesson of Jeremiah 29, where God tells the people in exile to put their roots down. Jeremiah 29:1-8:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
I felt my attitude change. God tells us that even though this earth isn’t our permanent home, we are still called to abundant lives. It’s time to settle, time to plant, time to invest in where I am because He knows where I’m going. And that’s enough.
Here are a collection of the few things I learned during this year as I dug my roots in:
- Your ego can’t come first in relationships.
- Focusing on how you’re different from others only creates distance and isolation instead of collaboration.
- Self-evaluation after every failure is key to progress.
- Wake up earlier and don’t let the internet or social media be the first thing you see.
- I must have hope. Not just for me, but for those who cannot hope, those without the faith to make it through.
- Hope and joy are built upon gratitude, daily gratitude.
- No matter how long or how short your time is in a certain place or with a certain group of people is, leave behind love. Love harder, deeply, with more vulnerability and out of abundance in Christ.
Here’s to a new year. Let us live with more kindness, gratitude and hope.