Some people wander by nature. Others wander by choice. We all seek what we were created to crave: adventure.
Now that I’m back in in Michigan for the time being, everybody asks me, “How does it feel to be home?” While a conversation in passing typically includes my (truthful) reply that it is so good to be with my family, I am going to give a more complete answer here for a question that is asked in both love and curiosity by the people who are most precious to me.
How does it feel to be home? I don’t actually know what that means. Do you refer to the house in which I’ve never lived with my family in a state that I left when I was twelve? Until my family picked me up from my college campus in North Dakota at the end of the semester and brought me back to Michigan, I have not lived in any one place for seven years. Though I moved plenty of times prior to that, during this particular seven-year period I lived in three countries and moved a dozen or so times. I came back to the U.S. and, after six weeks of sleeping on a couch at my grandparents’ house, I moved to North Dakota (a state I’d never lived in) to attend college (having been a lifelong homeschooler). This is the first time since 2009 that I have had all my possessions in one place and am not living out of a suitcase.
“There is no domestic heart,
So what have we become: just pedestrians?
There is no domestic heart.”
I am no longer quite “American” – sometimes I don’t know how to define my place. “Home,” as most people define it, is a rather fluid concept for me. I told my mom last summer that it has been three-and-a-half years since I left the U.S. – three years since I have been in Africa. I left a piece of my heart in Africa – or Africa has become a part of me. I have friends and family in different countries and on different continents. As I began teaching our Missionary Month with the kids at my church, I was struck with an intense wave of homesickness not for a location but for a type of life I’d left behind. To be perfectly honest, I am still finding my place now that I am back in Michigan, no longer in the steady certainty of my missionary life in Africa or the consistent structure of my time at college.
“The Wilderlove is hidden within us.
And we reckon with it; we wrestle with it.”
But let me explain the girl behind the story. Once upon a time I dreamed of a quiet, “secure” life – a life that played out in one location, in one house, with a few people I loved. My goal was to never move again – ever. Even when I came back from Africa, I practically vowed I’d never cross an ocean again. My whole life I despised what I could not control or predict – because I was afraid of what might happen. I couldn’t control places or people or even my own life. And this is the girl who today lives with a heart full of adventure and a desire to live boldly.
You see, there was always a restlessness deep within my soul, a wildness I dreamed about in the deep of night. I grew up in Africa – I found myself there in a way that I never had before. I had always thought of myself as rather studious, perhaps a bit boring and reserved – because surely my dreams were too big, too wild. Instead, I found that there was within me a mighty woman of valor waiting to be released into the fullness of her God-created beauty. What I mistook for my “dream life” was, in reality, only the unwillingness of my mind to embrace the dreams and desires as big as God’s heart for me.
“You are the Wilderness, and I fall fast drawn
To the rise of Your vast expanse
I feel so underdressed so civilized and small
By the powers that You possess.”
The craving for adventure was always there, buried deep within me. Now it has been unearthed – now it has found its home. This adventure is soul-deep, indelibly etched into the core of my being by the One who has called me to the greatest Adventure of all time.
Adventure has awoken in my heart and found its place.
And oh, how I crave it! I laughingly admitted to my family that I might have a serious case of wanderlust. The girl who hated sleepovers because she never liked being away from home for a single night has become a woman with a heart for the nations and a longing to travel the world. Living out of a suitcase is not a hardship but a privilege. There is joy in staying, and there is joy going. For me, adventure isn’t about breaking beyond the mundane or the daily hum of life; it is about finding freedom in who God created me to be. It is not about the location or the particular duty – it is about the adventure of simply being with God. A life wholly surrendered to my Creator is inevitably a life of adventure.
What areas of your life is God asking you to surrender to Him? In what places is He calling you deeper into the vast expanse of Him? I shared above some of the lyrics from John Mark McMillan’s Wilderlove, and the song is beautiful in that it recognizes how we often struggle with the piece of us that longs for something wholly Wild. We seek safety in becoming mere pedestrians in life’s adventure, but we were made for more. Our God is the Wilderness: untamed, unpredictable, yet consistently good and glorious. You, braveheart, were created with a wild, untamed heart to long for a life with Him. You may, as I do, feel afraid of something so beyond your understanding. But the there is a piece of you that will never be fulfilled until you allow yourself to acknowledge that He has made you for adventure – and He has made you well.
This week I pack my bags to begin another part of my great Adventure. I will be spending almost two weeks in southeastern India, doing ministry training to teach leaders how to teach others to hear the voice of God. Through listening prayer, journaling, rich storytelling, and intentional conversation, my heart is to teach young participants to have a personal relationship with God. Afterward I will even have the pleasure of spending a weekend with new friends. There are dreams I was too afraid to dream fully, but God is calling me out of fear. I’ve been born into freedom. Even as you join my journey into India through my words and pictures, join me in letting go of control and letting your heart dream boldly with the One who designed you in His image with that wilder-love in the depths of your soul. Adventure calls, beloved. Freedom is calling your name, drawing you toward a life lived to the fullest. What will your answer be?