A Heart for the Nations

I leave part of my heart in every country I’ve been. The Dominican Republic is no exception. Here are some things I learned about myself and God.

  • I need to remember to breathe.

This month has been full of good surprises, but my head has been spinning by all God’s been doing. The first part of the week was well spent in just sitting with God-simply sitting in the awesomeness of God’s movement. It was refreshing to revel in His glory rather then cower in fear. This season, I’ve learned a lot about rest but sometimes, I forget to actually practice it. This trip was like a breath of fresh air.

  • God is really good about pushing me out of my comfort zone, but also showing me that I am loved more than I could ever know.

One day towards the end of the trip I ended up stitching a goat’s ear. I had learned about sutures, but I had never done them in real life. Plus, my right hand doesn’t work as well. So when I was asked, I said yes but I was scared silly. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I accomplished it. That night was church, and God knew my soul needed baby cuddles. I ended up holding a child who fell asleep on me and at that moment, the world felt right.

  • Everyone has different gifts-you need to push yourself, but be willing to use your gifts for His glory.

We were doing several different projects this week, and I struggled with not being physically able to do all the manual labor that we did, but I had to realize my nurse skills and ability to remain calm under pressure came in handy time and time again. So I may not have concrete mixing abilities, but God gave me a quick mind and calm spirit. I just have to be open to letting God use my gifts instead of wishing I was someone else.

  • God always shows up-especially when you don’t expect Him to.

There were many times that God showed up whether it was impromptu relationship and life talks or a cool breeze on a particularly warm day.

God ALWAYS shows up. You just have eyes to see Him.

  • Sunsets on some dreams and sunrises on others is an aspect of God that I love.

It was in the Dominican 4 years ago that I first began to dream about studying genetic diseases as well as hemolytic diseases in underdeveloped countries. Dreams like researching hemolytic disorders and their testing to make them more accurate and accessible. This week that dream resurfaced, and I got a glimpse of what that could look like down the road. I don’t know how or if God will orchestrate it, but I’m starting to get excited about the possibility of this new adventure with Jesus whatever it will look like.

  • We don’t need to see the whole staircase to take a step.

It is definitely scary to take a step when we can’t see the whole road, but I think we’d be even more scared if we saw the outcome thinking we are insufficient and unprepared. It’s more about the journey and becoming more like Christ than the immediate destination.

When Being Brave Means Letting Go.

I chose to be audacious this year.

I determined to be recklessly brave even in the little things.

Brave. Courageous. Audacious.

The year of brave, my friend and I called it.

Only eleven months into my journey of being brave, and it has been such a wild ride. I have learned to step out of my comfort zone, when the necessary action terrifies me. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I was not prepared for how scared or lonely I would be at times. I experienced the beauty in being vulnerable with someone and allowing myself to love him. I wrestled with the heartbreak that comes when that relationship ends, even if it is the best thing for both parties. I started a new job-one that pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I discovered a love for the city that I moved to as I chose to stay and invest in my community. Bravely, I strived to reclaim my dreams that I unintentionally put aside.

This year of being brave challenged me, even scared, me, but naively, I believed I would still hold some control over my life and the changes that were about to occur.

 Silly me, I had no control.

The past couple of months have been stock full of good and hard changes, but my head could not wrap its head around the fact that life would be vastly different.

The array of emotions that flooded into the life I started to make in Akron surprised me-the celebration of being established in an apartment, starting a new job, settling into new friendships, and relinquishing claims on old relationships.

To fully settle into my life during the transition, I needed to let go of a lot of things. I let go of a certain person as the relationship ended. Letting go of someone hurts even if it is the right thing to do. That person, who was once a major part of my life, was suddenly a stranger with history behind us.  Things would never be exactly the same. Letting go is extremely hard and the heart grieves what was lost, but it is a necessary part of moving on. Letting go of people, places, emotions, life stages-it is all hard and takes quite a bit of bravery.

I let go of a stage of life I would never return to. I would never again be a traditional college student. Losing that immediate community where I was known, loved, and cared for startled me. I needed to grieve the loss of that stage of life-of that community- as I step into the next one. As I take brave steps to build a new community, to be known by strangers and to be loved by my church.

I am not a novice at letting go-at transitions of life. My whole life has been a series of changes, and I have had a lot of practice saying goodbye to people and moving on. The practice does not make each new encounter easier. I may be good at change, but I still do not like it. Whenever the possibility of change or transition appears, I get nervous–scared-palms-sweaty, heart-racing, butterflies-my-stomach nervous–because the possibility of getting hurt terrified me. I want to run from the change and hold on to the stability that comes with the things that I know.

The leaves change colors and seasons changes which reminds me that there is beauty in letting the dead things go. Just as the trees let go of the old leaves so that new growth can occur, letting go of something leaves my hands wide open to welcome new things.  Every day, I learn to allow the space between where I want to be and where I am to inspire me and not terrify me. Moving forward into this new season, I am brave and choose to do things that make me happy-the things that give me life in the midst of chaos. I am discovering the things that make me—Sara Beth. I am rediscovering the things that remind me of the necessity of learning how to stay put and invest in the community rather than running from the transitions.

Freedom shows up in being able to let go of the emotions and feelings that have been weighing heavily on my heart over the past couple months as thing after thing in my life changed.

Joy presents itself as I reclaim my wildness-rediscovering the passions and desires that God has placed in my heart.

Bravery exists as I lay the messy emotions and transitions at the feet of a loving God who gathers me into his lap whispering “I love you” in my ear.