On the ninth month of my World Race (mission trip to 11 months in 11 countries), an alumna World Racer, working with the ministry we partnered with in Thailand, helped break down the fog of what returning home looked like. One sentence stuck with me:
“Don’t expect to feel ‘normal’ for about six months.”
I remember that statement shocking me. “Half a year?” I thought, “That seems like a long time to feel out of sorts.” But the closer it got to the end of our travels, the more I realized how insane it would feel to return to a culture that could no longer understand me. On our last day of ministry in our last country in Vietnam, my body physically resisted the huge change I faced. I experienced levels of stress where my body physically broke down and would not allow me to function. My team nearly had to carry me through the airport to get to final debrief.
I left everything I had on the field, and now I was to return to a slow-paced living surrounded by a dreamless culture with all the distracting comforts the world could offer. But first I had to say goodbye to 49 people I had just spent every second with for the previous 11 months of my life. I had just spent each month of the previous year wrenching my heart out at the end of each month when I had to say goodbye to people I had fully given my heart, and now I had to say goodbye to the closest friends I ever had. It felt like I went through 49 break-ups in one day.
Now it’s May, and I’m getting into my sixth month of being back. I’m starting to discover resemblances of what normality must be. I feel less like a fish gasping for air while flopping around a boat deck, and finally have local friends. I have a community here. I have a ministry. I have a job. I have a temporary place to live. I have comfort.
Then suddenly I realized I’m settling into a warm hot tub. I’m comfortable? If I’ve learned anything about getting comfortable, it’s that it peels your eyes off God and focuses on destroying anything that could get in the way of your comfort.
When you’re comfortable, you pray less.
When you’re comfortable, you stop listening for God’s voice.
When you’re comfortable, dust collects on your Bible.
You stop dreaming.
When did I stop pushing the boundaries of my own comfort? I’m avoiding returning to school because it will be hard? Who is this person? I don’t want a normal life. I want life to fullest! That’s what Jesus came for anyway, right?
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” John 10:10 (Amplified version)
Did you catch that? It doesn’t say, “Until they’re comfortable.” The original Greek word here means “superabundant,” which I didn’t even know that word existed. The dictionary defines it as, “exceedingly or excessively abundant; more than sufficient; excessive.” Wow. That doesn’t sound like “normal” or “mediocre” to me.
Are you living a superabundant life with Jesus? Or is it just sufficient?
When I returned home, I pushed against all the boundaries of my comfort zone by attending a new church alone, beginning dance lessons in my mid-twenties, beginning a new job I knew nothing about, and starting in a ministry I had no prior experience in. Now I’ve started to get good at these things. I’ve started to settle into them. My pride began growing as I recognized my skill, and I basked in the known.
I’ve forgotten my dreams.
Dreams big enough to scare me to the point of trembling and tears.
Dreams that sent me into God’s arms, where he would guide me with his counsel and hold my right hand. God gave me these dreams, and even more than that; he constantly gives me opportunity to live out these dreams. Who am I to stop dreaming?
Who are we to stop living a life of superabundance?
I can tell you something I know for certain, though. If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. If you can look at your dream and see its possibilities and how to achieve it, it’s not big enough.
I challenge you to dig in your closet and pull out that dream you’ve shoved behind your work boots, party dresses and movies. Dust it off. Hold it in your hands. Feel its weightiness. Shiver at the impossibility, and turn around. God stands with outstretched arms for he has been waiting for you to hand this to him.
He reaches out towards your outstretched dream as a grin spreads across his face and a chuckle rumbles beneath, “Let’s do this.”