Whenever you talk to anybody who hasn’t been out of the country about your travels out the country, their eyes usually show what they are thinking “How amazing and glamorous and… wow!” But when you talk to someone who is an American but has visited extensively or lived in another country for even a short time, there’s an understanding that peers from their eyes. Simply said, there’s a side beyond the glamour of it all.
I’m not talking about a vacation to the islands. Vacations and resorts are geared towards accommodating you in the best ways possible. Making life convenient and comfortable. But when you go to ‘do life’ in another country. To live there – even if just for a couple weeks, you understand the offering up that comes with travel. Of being away from your normal American life.
I’m going to give you a different perspective of our 3-month trip to Europe as a family 5 years ago. Yes, it was wonderful, yes, we met amazing people, yes, the ministry was awesome – as serving Jesus anywhere is. But life is different in Europe than in America. Not better, not worse – just different. And as I’ve come to find out, I’m not political (like, at all) but I. love. my. country. I love our culture. I love the environment of my midwest community. I appreciate the freedom we have. I know you’re thinking “It’s being taken away daily.” And maybe it is, but you truly don’t understand how amazing we have it, until you see what it’s like somewhere else.
We jumped into that first 3-month trip out of obedience and, to be honest with myself, with a little bit of that ‘glamour’ in my eyes, that I talked about above. We were going to minister to the people of Europe – and primarily France – but that also meant doing life as a European for 3 months. There are many similarities between the countries but so many differences. The way you grocery shop (especially as a foreigner that doesn’t know how to read labels!), the way you do laundry, the way you drive…. it’s all a bit different. Attempting to interact with people around you while not knowing the local language… life can get frustrating. When your ‘normal’ is taken away from you, you are out of your comfort zone and realize what you have given up when you said ‘yes’ to this venture.
Honestly, I’m not complaining. I treasure our times we’ve spent as a family in Europe. They were amazing. This is just to give a little glimpse into the offering up that had to happen in those seasons. I’m not sure I realized – no, I know I didn’t realize – the sacrifice of giving up my normal. Letting go of my American life that I am so accustomed to, even if just for a few months or weeks. And anytime you let go of your normal or get out of your comfort zone, there is an offering up.
***This is Day 7 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***