“It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
-Don Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road
Yesterday, I officially committed to a year of ministry and teaching English at a university in Morocco.
If you’re surprised, I can only say me too.
One month ago, I had never heard of ELIC (the English Language Institute in China, though misleadingly named since they have teams all over the world.) I had never thought twice about Morocco, couldn’t find it for you on a map, and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do after graduation (which is in less than two months.) I thought that I’d likely be working in some publishing or editing company, or perhaps working at the local Starbucks like my dad thought all English majors do. Instead, I sat in my C.S. Lewis class while one of ELIC’s directors–and a former Wheaton alum–told us about teaching abroad. The next day, by random chance, I ran into the director and she asked if she could buy me coffee. A few hours later, still not thinking much of it, I started the application for ELIC. Two weeks and a lot of emails, phone calls, and interviews later, I was accepted to the program; yesterday, I committed.
I’m still trying to process this turn of events. It’s all happened so quickly it feels like one chaotic whirlwind of conversations and interviews, and the sheer magnitude and risk of what I’ve just signed up for is still hitting me every few hours. Even as I try to explain it to other people, I realize I can’t quite explain it to myself. Perhaps the truest way to put it is this: God opened a door when that director stepped into my classroom, and I stepped through and kept stepping through, and He kept opening more and more doors until now I have committed to standing on this terrifying threshold. In a few months (and really starting now), the unfamiliar will rush forth, will sweep over me like waves and I like a child still learning to swim, but also with a Christ who calls me onto the water and takes my hand when fear takes me.
Someone told me a few days ago that you can be at peace without feeling peaceful. That’s an apt way of describing where I am. Truthfully, I have too many questions and fears and doubts to say I feel peaceful, though I wish I could say all those things evaporated as soon as I felt like God was “calling” me to do this. Instead, the fear is alive and well, and every time I hear of a bombing in the Middle East or ask a question about the program only to hear “I’ll let you know once we know,” I question my decision. At the same time, inexplicably, there is a peace that does transcend all understanding. This decision that I could never have predicted, that feels utterly strange and terrifying, also somehow feels like the quiet freeing of a puzzle piece that one had jammed into a cramped place for fear of incompletion. I can explore what God may have in store for me because I no longer fear that incompletion, that loneliness, the way I used to.
This is just some beginning thoughts for what is coming, a way to introduce you (and me) to a still-new reality. More thoughts will come and official requests for support will be made. For now, though, I would appreciate your prayer as I accept this new season of my life and begin the long process of logistical preparation. There is a lot to do and a lot to be afraid of, but there is also excitement, and hope, and most importantly, there is a God who has promised to be with me always, even to the ends of the earth.