Two Years

Two years ago today I embarked on what became the greatest adventure of my life so far. I think OneRepublic got it right in the song “Good Life” when they said, “My friends…they don’t know where I’ve been for the past few years or so, Paris to China, to Colorado” (Funny story, I’d adopted “Good Life” as sort of my theme song until I got accepted into the Disney College Program and discovered Disney was using that as their theme song). Since I left the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Friday, September 24th, 2010 I’ve been to England, Scotland, Italy, and Kenya. I also moved to Orlando, FL for a few months. If at this point you’re thinking to yourself, “This girl has a problem. She can not sit still”, then you’re probably right. Wanderlust is defined as “a strong desire to travel”, but it’s so much more. More accurately, I think wanderlust should be defined as “an inability to remain in one place due to an insatiable desire to see all the incredible things the world has to offer”.

What usually happens when I blog is that I start writing one thing, then my imagination goes wild and I end up with something totally different than I intended. This time, however, I am determined to remain on-topic. This blog post actually has a couple different purposes. The first is to provide a shameless plug for Torchbearers International, specifically the Capernwray Hall campus. The second is to share something I haven’t shared with a lot of people. It’s highly personal, but I think that there’s no point in learning something if I’m not going to share it.

What is Torchbearers International? Rather than clumsily explaining the organization and it’s history, I’m going to be lazy and simply provide you with a link and trust that you actually take the time to educate yourself. I will tell you that it was founded by Major Ian Thomas and is continued to be run by his family today. Here’s the link:

Now, what is Capernwray Hall? Capernwray is the Bible School campus located in the northwest corner of England where I lived for nine months. Another link for you: This gorgeous manor house was my home, and the people I lived with were my family. I’ve blogged about Capernwray before, during my time there and after returning home. I’m not going to go to the trouble of repeating myself (sorry, I’m being super lazy today) but I will tell you where you can read about it. You can check out my posts from December of 2010 to June of 2011. I know, that’s a lot, but I’d like to think they’re pretty easy to get through and fairly informative as well. October 2011 also shares a bit more about my experience leading up to Capernwray, and January 2012 tells a bit of the story in summation.

I’m not sure how I can describe Capernwray to someone who has never heard about it before. The experiences I had there were incredible, the people were amazing, and I learned so much. Going to Capernwray is the most amazing thing I have ever done, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you are graduating next year and you’re not quite sure what you want to do, I wholeheartedly recommend going to Capernwray. Maybe you’ve already graduated from university but you don’t quite want to jump into the work world yet, or maybe that degree doesn’t line up with what you feel called to do. Go to Capernwray. Mid-life crisis? Go to Capernwray. Retired? Go to Capernwray. Do you get the picture? This is a great place to go, regardless of where you are in life.

Let me now give you this warning: It was not always fun. It was not always easy. I did not love every minute. “Hold on,” you say, “didn’t you say this was the most amazing thing you’d ever done? That you’d do it again in a heartbeat?” Yes, and yes. Here’s the kicker, growing is painful. I grew about four inches over the course of one year when I was in middle-school, and that was not fun. Similar situation at Capernwray, but spiritually.

When I flew out of the CLT airport two years ago I was leaving carrying a lot more baggage than my TSA approved trunk, carry-on, and personal item. There were a lot of things going on in my life that I had not dealt with, either because I was unaware of the problem to begin with, I thought I had already dealt with it, or I had pushed it aside because it was not something I wanted to think about or wrestle with. At this point, I’m not going to go into a crazy amount of detail about what I learned in Winter School, but I will say that it was during this time that God shifted my thinking from focusing on the things I had done wrong in my life and beating myself up about it to seeing His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

The incredible thing was that after moving on from these things, God also began to show me places where I had grown! This was incredibly encouraging, especially because of some pre-conceived expectations I had about my personal experience at Capernwray when I arrived that had not been met. During Winter School I learned about forgiveness and grace after having to deal with some blows to my feelings self-confidence and self-worth. It was also during Winter School that I began to see some of the unresolved issues in my life.

Between Winter School and Spring School there was a month long break, during which I traveled quite a bit and ended up in Kenya for two weeks. Kenya was an incredible experience! Jesus showed me a lot about himself during that time and also opened my eyes to the presence of a very material mindset. God also used this time to start working on building a self-confidence that is rooted in the knowledge of my identity in Christ – an absolutely priceless gift, but one that I still need to be constantly reminded of. I am a work in progress, and will be until the day I die.

The work was continued in Spring School when I was forced to face some of the challenges I had carried with me to England. There was an increasing amount of inner pressure and a perceived lack of connection with God for a couple weeks after returning from Kenya and settling in to Capernwray once again. Things came to a point one night as I was sitting out on the basketball court, crying because I realized that I was angry with God and because I was still hurting when I thought everything was fine. The world had moved on while I remained stuck emotionally and, in several respects, spiritually as well. I was angry because I couldn’t understand why God would let the people He loves hurt so much. At this point I’m going to quote from what I wrote in my journal that night (with a tiny bit of editing) because I don’t think I can put it any better than I already did.

“I was angry, I wanted to throw things, break stuff and scream. Then it popped into my head as I sat and the wind blew a single flower petal from the tree above into my open hand, that God is aware of when a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:31), how much more does He care for me? Then I was struck by the thought: He understands. He wasn’t helpless, but in a way, He couldn’t stop it. He understands. My anger vanished, disappeared, replaced by something I can’t quite describe. Maybe an empathy, for God if you can believe it. I can’t be angry with God anymore. It still hurts, but I’m not angry.”

I know some of that is kind of vague, and it is purposefully so. I would be happy to sit down with you, one-on-one and talk to you more about the details, but I don’t think the internet is the place to do it. The point of the matter is, this was a turning point for me. God understands. Can you really wrap your mind around that? It still blows my mind every time I remember that night. He understands what I’ve been through, and He cares about me! Do you know how much easier it is to like, let alone love, someone who knows what you’ve been because they’ve been through the same thing? Instead of blaming that same someone for what happened? Knowing that God loves me, that I am priceless to Him, and that He understands propelled everything I had been learning into a confidence and passion for the direction He was pointing me.

How do I wrap up what I’ve just said and summarize all of it? Well, it’s not going to fit into a neat little package, but I’ll do the best I can. God has a plan for your life, but a lot of the time your idea of what should be happening (or when) isn’t the same as God’s (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He isn’t unsympathetic to what you’re going through, He’s experienced all of that before (Hebrews 4:15). Above all else, He knows the intimate details of your life and He loves you (Matthew 10:29-31)! I’m not perfect, not by a long shot. Like I already said, I’m a work in progress, but I know that one day I will be complete (Philippians 1:6).