wanderlust

I made supper with a friend last night, an easy and healthy creamy sun-dried tomato parmesan chicken over a bed of edamame noodles. It was so delicious, I almost died. Fresh off the airplane from Kenya, this sweet, top-knot-loving, jet-lagged girl shared story after story of her adventures overseas. Pretending I was still in college, I stayed up until stupid o’clock getting filled up as I marveled at all the things God had done in and through my friend. She dared to live fearlessly and said yes to adventure.

I love a good adventure. “Adventure is out there!” has been my motto since I was fifteen. On a trip with my church to Jamaica I caught a bug – the travel bug. I couldn’t get enough of venturing to unknown places, unknown people, and unknown cultures. I unreservedly gulped a life of travel and new experiences. It was wanderlust at its finest.

I pinched myself every time I got into a van or onto an airplane. I could hardly believe I’d been given this gift of exploration. Every place I visited taught me something about this world, myself, and God. Travelling was my drug. I couldn’t get enough. Each time I packed my clothes into my hot pink suitcase, I tried not to also pack my expectations. Instead, I aimed to simply show up and pay attention. The music, the food, the landscapes…I acted like a sponge and soaked in as much as I could. But there was one aspect of each place I visited that wrecked me from the inside out: the people. Their faces, their laughter, their names, and their stories. These beautiful people were proof that there is much injustice, pain, and challenges in life. But these people also convinced me this world is bursting at the seams with joy, and love, and peace. I am forever indebted to the Big Apple, the reservation, Jamaica, Mexico, Mozambique, and Turkey for how they each changed me.

So you can imagine my deep sorrow when years later, life circumstances or rather, school loans, prevented me from traveling.

I sulked in a puddle of jealousy for quite awhile. I scrolled through my friends’ feeds of breathtaking photos. While I was eating leftovers and Netflix binging, my friends were exploring Europe, living on a sailboat, going to the Olympics, and riding elephants. Surely everyone was having fun, making an impact, and seizing the moment – everyone but me. That’s the lie I bought into.

But slowly over the last few years, I’ve learned that adventure isn’t just out there. Adventure is also right here.

Yes, it is a brave thing to get on a plane and fly to a foreign country. It takes courage to serve others, to meet their needs before your own. It is an honorable thing to spend time and money investing in a people without expecting anything in return.

But in my experience, it’s just as brave, if not more so, to stay put and be present in your neighborhood. It takes much courage to serve the physical and emotional needs of people you know real well. And it is a very honorable deed to spend time and money investing in your own people without expecting anything in return.

Rather than live vicariously through my traveling friends, I’m choosing to see this city with eyes of expectancy. I’m choosing to say yes to opportunities right here in my neighborhood. This world is far too lovely to sit back and miss what God’s up to in the lives of those around me.

Whether you’re booking a ticket, filling a tank of gas, or hosting a meal in your home, adventure is waiting. So be gutsy and present. Be curious and more concerned about others than yourself. Open your eyes so you can really see what’s all around you, and let yourself be seen. Try new foods and for goodness’ sake, turn off your phone. Commit to a lifetime of adventures, even if you never step on an airplane. Because adventures are the best way to learn. And learning is one of the greatest gifts in life.

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