A word about wanderlust

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This is the problem:

I hate living here. Don’t take it personally, Oklahoma, the deck was stacked against you. But the fact remains that there are a lot of things here that are hard and bad and lonely. Mostly that last one, lately. And this is the real problem, they (yes, the mythical they who live in the internet) keep telling me that I’m only young once. They keep saying that this is my big chance to travel and see the world and have all of these mind blowing experiences. They hear that I didn’t take a gap year (it was a gap nine days and I spent it hiding from tornados and packing boxes) and they gasp. They hear that I’ve never left the country and they make sorry eyes at me. They are telling me that I should take advantage of all this freedom I have while I’m young and single and relatively unencumbered. It makes me feel like I’m losing.

I go to school. I go to work. I see my family. I have “family time” in my best friends’ living room with whoever happens to be there. Welcome to the polar opposite of the eat.pray.love thing (or in Relevant, if you’re more of that persuasion). I see it, and I say it. I can’t count the number of times that I have said “I’ve just got to get out of here”.

I don’t have much faith in this place. You can take that as you will.

I’m covering shifts again this week while a classmate runs off and does exciting stuff. I see the posts and the pictures as I’m getting drooled on and such. It’s totally fabulous. I’m wishing, again, that I was out there and not in the clinic again (The clinic has no windows. What are they trying to do to me?).

I went on an adventure this summer. I lived in a hospital for a month, and then I went on a two week trip to go visit my tribe members who were lost in the diaspora. It was good to see them. It was good to see the ocean. It was good to be on a plane going wherever. And yet we spent so much time at Kroger and chatting on the futon and doing laundry (add hopelessly lost in Atlanta to that list). I loved it. It was beautiful. But it was normal. The magic was less about the place and more about the relationships and the friends I have loved for so long.

This is the problem:

When I got back, one of my patients had stopped using a walker, and another was into a whole new genre of music. And I started to realize that me going meant…me being gone.

This week wasn’t hip. I didn’t Instagram anything (confession: Instagram eludes me. How are all the filters different? I don’t see it). But someone needed to be there weathering the tantrums. Someone needed to be there to make my boss smile during a hard week. Someone needed to video my sister-in-law’s class and to make a big deal out of a thirteen year old’s romantic aspirations.

I need to realize that when I run off somewhere, people get left behind.

That’s not to say that I will be here, always. Because if there is any one thing I’ve learned, it’s that, pardon my Greenday, “time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go”. I may not always be here. But it is a weighty thing to sit here and shout about how I will never come back. To say that is to say a lot of things about a lot of people who matter.

It’s cute to be a twenty-something talking about wanderlust. It’s cute to dream about airplanes and lofts and foreign languages. But before I just go, I need to take stock of what I’m leaving. How do I go without hurting people? What will it say about Christ if I go? (before you worry that I’m saying you shouldn’t travel or study abroad or whatever stop. I’m not that selfless. This is about me. If it relates to you, great, but this is all about me. God may call you to go. Do so. You do you, friend)

And it may be sad to leave people I’ve invested in, but it would be sadder still to know that I’d been here two years with no discernible reason not to go.

I don’t want to wander anymore. I don’t want to drift. I’ve done that, and I know the way it goes. I don’t want to. If I go, I want to go boldly and thoughtfully and prayerfully and lovingly. And if I stay, I want to stay intentionally and deeply and carefully.

This is the problem:

I’m impulsive I’m emotional. And I’m learning to be a person who can be counted on (also I really do sort of hate it here). Pray for me.

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