The Texas sky hung large over me as I sat sobbing in the driveway of our new house, my body draped over my old work boxes in the trunk of the van.
Twelve years of entrepreneurship, elbow grease, and long hours were all over. And, instead of me taking the boxes out, they took me for a whirl.
See me, Charity, I’m packed up because you’re a failure. I’m every adventure that could have been. I’m every friend you worked beside and let down. I’m the you you’ll never be.
At the time, I thought it was Missouri, family, friends, and familiarity that I missed. But, in retrospect, I think I missed “me.”
I missed the me that led important meetings at long tables with fancy whiteboards staged next to them. I missed the me that gave lectures and saw eager faces wanting to learn. I missed the me who went on grand adventures.
I wanted to believe that God had me on a new adventure. But, I suppose my faith just wasn’t that strong.
One day after this, I sat with a circle of moms eating donuts. (Meanwhile, my butt was expanding in my spandex pants with every bite.) The leader of the tribe asked, “What do you miss the most from your previous life before kids?”
Kids? Ha! My kids are awesome. How about…. What do I miss before moving here and letting go of my career? I thought.
Still, I answered with no hesitation, “Travel. I miss traveling and helping people who are doing more noble things than myself.”
My answer wasn’t offered up as a prayer. It was a complaint issued and then swallowed down with a swig of caramel macchiato and another bite of glaze.
Still, God must have heard it, because the next day I was invited to Israel. Then two months later, our entire family was invited to Thailand and India.
Little did I know, that as I was mourning the loss of “me” that God was planning to reintroduce me to a better version of myself in India.
While I realize it’s cliche to say, “I rediscovered myself in India.” In our case, I believe it was true for our whole family. We’re eternally indebted to our friends there for sharing their lives with us.
Turns out, sometimes you have to lose yourself to rediscover a better you.
So, today I’d like to encourage you to do something rash. Take a trip.
3 Reasons You SHOULD Take a Trip to Rediscover Yourself.
1. Remove yourself from local influences.
It could be the influences of people or circumstances you live in, both good and bad, that are keeping you from seeing yourself as God sees you.
My life was full of forces squeezing me into a mold that was not pretty. The forces of convenience, luxury, and achieving a perfect body image… just to name a few. They consumed me, even if I didn’t want them to.
Being in India, I was able to choose new influences, even if it was just for a couple of weeks.
Each day I sat with wise friends who were doing life-altering work there. Each one of them self-sacrificing for greater good. Being with these people helped me to better understand the things working within me that needed to be reshaped.
I realized I had a lot of self-pity and self-loathing I still needed to overcome. (Life themes, maybe?)
I can’t say I’ve figured it all out post-trip. But, I am mastering the first step, which is recognizing themes that need adjusted when they pop up and making better decisions.
For example, I noticed that I’m eating to mask my negative emotions. So, just this week, I signed up with a friend for nutrition coaching. Not because I need to achieve a perfect body image, but because I need accountability in maintaining a healthy one. I “get real” with this coach every time I’m negative toward myself or eat something unhealthy, once again masking my true emotions with food.
It did take taking a step out of my daily life to notice these things about myself.
2. Realize your paradise doesn’t exist.
I always had a notion that when we moved away from Missouri that we’d be going overseas.
There was a monologue that played in my head when we moved that sounded something like this, You’re moving to Texas! What a meaningless move! You could be moving to India or Africa and really be impacting people’s lives. You mean, you gave up your business and closeness to family and friends for this!
Jeff and I have always had a vision of ourselves living overseas and “changing the world.” That was our version of paradise.
Traveling to India was a healthy dose of reality. It’s extremely hard to impact people’s lives when you don’t know the language and don’t have a true understanding of the culture.
While we can still see ourselves overseas someday, we woke up to the fact that even our dreams are not paradise and to stop fantasizing about it.
The unfortunate truth was that we really didn’t impact India much. Instead, thank God, it impacted us. And, we came home more equipped to change the world where we are.
3. Find perspective.
You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s a small world.”
I’m pretty sure whoever came up with that didn’t really get out much!
We live in a huge world, filled with dynamic people and places that you’ll never come close to seeing in your lifetime. So go somewhere!
If you never leave the comfortability you’re in, how will you find a well-rounded perspective?
God works in and through His ultimate creation… people.
But, if you refuse to get out and meet other people from other cultures and worldviews, you’re missing out on the broader perspective God can offer you.
For example, one day in India, as we were walking from our little home that was located on the grounds of a boys home, one of my sons asked me, “Mommy, why don’t these boys have a mommy and daddy like I do?”
He is adopted from Ethiopia and we talk about that a lot with him. So, I’m pretty sure he was connecting the dots between his story and each boy who lived in the boys home who didn’t have biological parents in their life in that moment.
I answered as honestly as I knew how, “This is the beauty of the family of God. These boys have lots of aunties and uncles instead of 1 mommy and 1 daddy. Each family looks differently in the family of God.”
I believe if we hadn’t have gone to India my sons would have missed out on this perspective. I could have taught him this in theory, but he got to live it and see it demonstrated.
When we left the boys home, my sons cried, “But, what about all my best friends?”
Do you have to travel to find yourself? Of course not.
But if you’re finding it hard amongst the grind of daily life to give yourself the time and space you need, then I hope this is a reminder to you to get out every now and then.
Jesus once said, knock and the door will be opened. So, whether you’re knocking on His door by issuing complaints like I did or by offering up melodious prayer, I trust that your knock will be answered. He’s good like that.
Thank you to our generous friends in India for sharing your lives with us. You changed our lives for the better forever. You gave us the opportunity to see and experience a different way of living where the strangers become family and losing our “me” is gain gaining “us.”