My European adventure feels like a lifetime ago.
I still cannot believe how quickly two months flew by, how could all of those days ended so fast? From every train I rode, stranger turned friend and sight seen. Gone.
Rereading that line brings to my attention how sad it sounds. In reality I’m sitting here writing this with a huge smile on my face, laughing out loud thinking about Grace and I walking through countless European gardens pretending to be royalty, the struggle of our philosophy assignments in Florence, the craziness of living in hostels and everything else in between.
That trip might be over but it’s absolutely nothing to complain about. It was a phenomenal experience and one that I know I will never forget.
However, something I miss the most, is this strange yet wonderful feeling of waking up in a new place almost every day, unsure of what the next 24 hours hold, but confident that it will be something great.
I’m trying to cling onto that feeling as the fall semester quickly approaches. Three weeks from today will be the first day of classes of my junior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Thinking about the upcoming semester I’m initially burdened by worry. Worries about school work, Wyldlife, living in a house, balancing friendships, being healthy, impending graduation…the list could go on and on and on.
I’m type A. I function best when I have a plan, when I have thought of every possibility, created a pros and cons list and made a decision based off of all those things. This part of my personality is magnified when I’m at school, stressing about my classes, the future and everything else I can think of.
My worrying brings me exhaustion, fear and more worry.
Many experiences this summer have pushed me to delve into this worry that often consumes me.
I had one of the best times of my life backpacking and studying abroad in Florence. Naturally I worried some, but it wasn’t consuming, it didn’t dampen my joy or smother my trust in the Lord. Reflecting on this realization brings me some conflict.
My trip had a unlimited number of unknowns- everyday contained a thousand possibilities, yet I had complete peace in trusting in the Lord’s plan for me (as cliché as that sounds…) I didn’t have to think of the worst option before deciding to go paragliding or taking a spur of the moment trip to Croatia. I simply trusted.
So why could I manage to jump in without looking back on this trip, yet with my comfortable life in Chapel Hill I’m weighed down with worry and literally drive myself crazy trying to control all factors in my life on top of maintaining a perfect image?
Junior year means college is half way over, which means graduation is in less than two years. I want to know what my future looks like. I want to know where I’ll be working, where I’ll be living and everything else in between.
No matter how much I plan, I’m not going to know. No matter how much I stress myself out over classes and internships, things won’t be perfect. (They are never going to perfect)
The difference isn’t going to class in Italy and going to class in Chapel Hill. The difference is the peace I sought from the Lord during my time in Europe and it is the control I let go of.
Those two months were by no means perfect and everyday at countless moments I’m sure I foolishly thought I was perfectly in control of my circumstances. However, the peace, joy and freedom I experienced provided me with a contrast of what I’m missing out on often.
I could easily continue living this way, but I’m not created to rely on myself. I’m human, I am imperfect, I make mistakes and I am sinful. The only thing that can transform my stubborn heart is the Lord, and I know He will if I simply submit to him.
Proverbs 16 is a passage that I need to read every single morning before I start my day. Throughout the thirty-three verses in the chapter there is a theme; the Lord is in control, He is fair and He will gladly carry my worries because He has already worked out the perfect way for me.
“To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue…In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Traveling the world was all together an incredible experience as I have said and written a million times. It was extremely challenging, eye-opening, humbling, exciting and beautiful. My bucket list has grown substantially longer and I truly have a case of wanderlust. The Earth is a giant, intricate playground that Jesus created for us to have fun, explore and learn from.
Today I’m thankful for the creation that was designed with me and you in mind, for my worrying being transformed into freedom and for the promise of a solid future built on the Lord’s love.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”