Two weeks from now I'll be sitting on an airplane making my way towards a super amazing, rather grand, and incredibly terrifying Adventure. And I have got a lot of feelings about that.
A few weeks ago I was leaving for work and a few of my mom's friends were over and they all started asking me questions about this trip. One mom asked me about insurance. The other told me I was being very brave. A few days later a lady I have met only a few times and I were talking and when I described what I would be doing she said it sounded "like a horror film waiting to happen." A week or so ago I was over at my sister and brother-in-law's and he started telling me about the horror stories from similar programmes he vaguely glanced at online. He reminded me me to be careful and "remember the Human Centipede." Gross Michael. -_-
In our culture of instant information and world-wide connected-ness you would think we'd relish hearing the wonderful opportunities and stories from around the globe, but no, we are sordid little people and relish disaster, heartache, and bad guys. I am no exception. I LOVE crime dramas. I mean, I can literally spend all day watching those True Crime shows on TV. The ones with the 900 Operator for a narrator and really, really bad double entendres. I love 'em! A few months ago a body was found in a car in a Jack-in-the-box parking lot two blocks from my house. I googled the whole story and solved it in 30 seconds (but really I was right). Earlier this week a body was found by the train tracks I drive over every. single. day. Obviously a Meth OD (Riverside is the actual Meth capital of the world. Breaking Bad was supposed to be set here, but the city taxes were too high for the show's budget.). I like the puzzles in crime. I love detective stories. I actually got excited by these two incidents because they were "mysteries" right in my backyard. I don't think there is necessarily something wrong in being fascinated by crime, but we do have a tenancy to whitewash it, sugar coat it, and make it all very sanitary. I could go into a dissertation on how this is a perfect example of humanity's need for order and chaos, but that's not the point. The point is why is it rare to hear about marvelous deeds in the news? Why are there more articles online about defending yourself than on making new friends? I don't for a second pretend that the world is not a scary and evil place, but when did we all start focusing on that?
I'm going to wax on about my personal belief's here so be forewarned. As a Christian we are called to be a light unto the world. The world is in darkness. The world lives under the weight of sin. When sin entered the world it seeped into all portions of it. While there is immense beauty and wonder in this world, it doesn't last, and is overshadowed by the evil, dark, and weighty things. I fully believe that. But when did we stop hearing about being a light? We are not to cower in the darkness, we are to go into the darkness. I'm not going on a missions trip, but I am a light in this world. I am to go to every nation, every corner of the earth and be that light (Matthew 28:19). That doesn't mean bad things won't happen to me. That doesn't mean I won't have a horrible experience. I am still effected by the sin in this world, but I'm still supposed to go.
Our culture has this idea that risks = bad. Risks are not inherently bad. Risks just mean you can't see the outcome. It isn't chance- doing something by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best- it's thought out, researched, and making the best decision you can based on those factors. Risk isn't throwing caution into the wind, it's making a choice and yes, hoping for the best based on knowledge of the possible outcomes. Risk should be taught in school. It helps you make decisions, it helps you come to logical conclusions, it helps you assess things, and it teaches via outcome and consequences. Risky things are not always bad things, and they can even teach you how to avoid the bad things.
I'm not calling out these ladies (and my b-i-l) to shame them, because I honestly understand from a mom stand point how scary this could be. None of these ladies have children older than 19 and I get that letting the birds fly from the nest is scary. And I'll be honest, I am a lot scared. I've never gone this long without seeing my family (when I was at OSU I saw them every 4 months and that was awful), I've never done this thing where I am constantly moving, I've never done a lot of the things I'll be doing. It is totally okay for me to be nervous and scared. I often tell people that when you face something that scares you, that is the one thing you need to be doing. But I am very bad at taking my own advice. I won't always be comfortable on this trip, that scares me. I won't speak the same language always, that scares me. I won't have anyone but myself to fall back on, and that scares me. I will be in climates so utterly foreign to the ones I've ever known, and that scares me. I don't know what my internet access will be, and frankly that scares me. I'm scared. But I don't need to hear about the horror stories. I need to hear what the random old lady at Goodwill told me: "You will never regret it," "it will be amazing," "you will be changed forever," "you'll never look at life the same way," "you're doing the best thing a young person can do." Sure those involve change, and change is scary, but those also are exciting, they're daring, they mean growth. Those are the words I want ringing in my ear on the days I want to sit down in the airport crying, wishing I could go home. Those are the words I want in my head when flights have been delayed, or I get turned away from this location, or my suitcase goes missing (this is actually my biggest fear, so if everyone could please say a prayer I would really greatly appreciate it).
When I was almost 17 ten years ago I went on a big scary adventure. I was gone for three weeks (the longest ever up to that point) and while it was a much more secure trip than this coming one, it was still a little scary. 16 year old me was not afraid (there is a BIG difference between scared and afraid) to go out there and be bold and "brave." 16 year old me was not afraid to argue with tour guides when they're information was just plain wrong. 16 year old me wasn't afraid to lead everyone back to the hotel in the middle of the night in London when our tour guide was tired of corralling people who all thought they knew the best way to get around a city they'd never been to (I have an innate sense of direction and don't get lost, so you can imagine how frustrating this was). 16 year old me ignored everyone who told her how crime ridden every place she was going was and didn't wear that gosh-awful money belt thankyouverymuch (because, as I demonstrated above, Riverside is such a crime-free place to be!). So 26 year old me will do the same, just with older eyes, and a bit more knowledge in my head (and maybe with the wisdom to not walk around a foreign city at midnight while you and your one companion are slightly inebriated...).
Fear is a natural part of life, but it isn't always a bad part of life. Fear originally meant respect and being in awe of something. I am in awe of what I am about to do, and I respect the possible outcomes, the bad things that could happen, and the distance between myself and the things that have always made me feel safe. But I'm still supposed to go. So I will look boldly into the face of all those things and I will smile, take a deep breath, and just go.