Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Perhaps this is too early to begin reflecting on my past six months in England and what I will be taking back with me, but as my head is filled with nothing but England and the people that I am leaving now, it was convenient to pull out my laptop and start organizing my thoughts while I’m flying over the Atlantic.
I truly am sad to be leaving this wonderful country, the Queen’s land (not the King’s land, as I mistakenly called it before and was corrected by my British, I mean English friends). Of course my goodbyes didn’t feel like they were really goodbyes, and I promised to return as soon as I am able; I know I will not realize I have left England for good until I am safely back in my own bed in my family’s house in hot, dry New Mexico. I could not have been more blessed or made truer friends or engaged in my community without the contacts I made through City Church in Leeds. It goes to show that God’s family is and will be wherever I go. They are my life line. I made wonderful friends at uni, and met some dear girls from all across the world who will be my long term friends. I experienced a culture not my own, got my first opportunity as traveling to foreign, non-English speaking countries in the nearby mainland, and learned a great deal about life, people, relationships, and the opposite sex – yes, that too. Perhaps I made a few mistakes that I learned from, but nothing irreparable.
Before I came to England, I could not wait to be surrounded by British-English speaking people. I had this foppish idea, as many girls do when they study abroad, that I could meet Mr. Prince Charming and soon get married and have babies with proper London accents, which was all well and good, until I found there are many different types of English accents! I discovered that there are more dialects in Britain than there are in the much larger U.S. Although I met many different types of Brits to ask about their origin (which they love to talk about, perhaps nothing more than the weather), I found that they weren’t all as different as I wanted them to be. Once all the cultural anomalies wore off, I found that people are all pretty much the same as us, and we had a lot in common. Even the children who I served through my charity work with Kidz Klub Leeds, who have an almost undecipherable Yorkshire accent, they are the same as American children. When it come down to it, all people crave love, attention and respect. It’s not some great revelation I have had; it’s just sense.
What God taught me in England, in a nutshell:
I have boiled it down to two words: Worship and Waiting. These words describe the main subsets of what I asked God to reveal to me and teach me during these six months. I won’t know what the complete impact of what He was doing in me was for these six months for some time; I may never know, but I know this, that God is at work in me now as much as he was before I left, and I will not be coming back the same person, but renewed and changed. In December I had asked the Lord for perspective, and purpose for my life. Let me explain how these two words fit into those categories, because I believe they do.
…Not only for the man that the Lord intends me to marry someday, but for the Lord himself to give me the OK in a situation. I know that it is more important than anything to me that the man I marry loves God more than anything, more than even me. If we both have our priorities right, our love will be so much purer and selfless. I had to learn the hard way, perhaps, to follow my own advice. Not until I found myself in a situation of dating a non Christian did I realize what drastic turmoil and confusion it caused, more for him than for me. I knew why I must put my relationship with God before anyone else in my life, but he couldn’t understand, and I could not make him understand. In the end, I could see no way out without making him feel hurt and rejected. I will not dapple in any more relationships unless I know the guy is marriage potential, and for me, that means he is a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ. So although I didn’t come back engaged or anything that would have shocked my parents, I know that I am waiting. I might even be waiting for a return to England. I’ll let God tell me when that is going to be.
Waiting applies to all aspects of my life right now, for career as well as relationships. It is exciting; to have so many exciting prospects to come in the future, but it is so difficult to remain patient sometimes! While I want to wait for the Lord’s timing and not stick my fingers in and mess things up before it’s time, that does not release me from responsibility to keep plowing ahead and making progress toward the direction I intend to go. The more I see God at work and moving in his people, the more I am convinced we are to be always ready for action, constantly moving forward. It is biblical, after all, to be prepared for action. Whether that means creating new ideas and putting them into action or moving in a physical sense of action serving or fighting, or communicating, speaking…there is none thing for certain: God’s people should never be complacent. There is so much action that can take place while waiting for something else.
I am looking forward to continuing to develop my writing skills for journalism and publishing, my communication skills getting to know people from all walks of life, and hopefully traveling more and experiencing new cultures in my coming two years left to finish my degree. I am looking forward to returning to Columbia and getting involved in serving the community and writing for my university’s and local papers, as I did in Leeds. It was such a break to not have to work full time and study while I was there. I had so much more time on my hands. But if I can manage to organize my time when I get back to South Carolina, I can manage to do those things along with my job. Looking for a part time job I hope proves easier in my own country than it did in England. There is something else that I must entrust to the Lord now, finding a new job. Ideally, I would like to work in fitness or the arts rather than food service again, for a job during college. I have more than enough experience in dance and as an instructor, it shouldn’t be a problem. Finding a location within biking distance in Columbia will be the trick. Oh, how I am going to miss public transportation!
…Was what I was made for. I have been in a state of denial for too long since I stopped dancing professionally. I know I was made to dance. It is my passion, and I know that is my purpose, but I have been denying it because I was hurt emotionally. I only wanted it if it could be my way, if I could be onstage performing in a world-class ballet company. I said I would give God the glory if He made me successful as an artist, but was that what I was really after? I struggled hard with not having the wrong motives to dance, and with finding my identity in Christ rather than in my dancing. What if He didn’t make me a successful? Would I continue to follow and trust and honor Him then? I tried not to think about any alternative to my plan. I didn’t have to; it came anyway. I felt like I had been turned upside down and my contents shaken out of me, or rattled around, and then stuffed back in, to lie dormant and dead. But who was it who decided to quiet them? It was me. I couldn’t bear to dance if it wasn’t in the way I knew it was supposed to be. But maybe God had something else in mind, or maybe He didn’t. There are other forces at work in this world other than God, the devil and his angels. and they probably want to thwart my success. Through injuries and personal trials I stopped dancing, at my own decision. God didn’t force me to quit. He certainly didn’t allow me to become so immobilized that I couldn’t dance anymore. If He wanted that then He would have let that happen during my bicycle accident. Yet through prayer God healed me, both feet when I broke them, and from my eating disorder, although the latter took me a long time. So does God still want me to dance? I believe He does. Will I ever dance professionally? It would take a miracle, and a lot of hard work and dedication. Do I believe that God can do it? Absolutely! What I don’t know is if I want that lifestyle anymore.
Over six months I have moved from not being willing to let myself dance anywhere unless it was in a studio or a ballroom (or at least not letting anyone see me) to dancing in the park with my earphones on, moved by the music, or for no reason at all. I know myself well enough to say that what I can’t express in words I can express through moving, through dancing. I went from standing rocking on my feet during worship and occasionally raising my hand to dancing in the aisles in the heat of worship. I am still not at the place I would like to be, to be free enough to worship God in my own way, in the way He made me to communicate my gratitude to Him, without worrying what other people think of me or what I look like. It is a safe place, in church, while the worship band is playing, and while everyone (is supposed to be) giving their attention to God. When I go back I may break out and life my hands to worship while we sing in my uber traditional Presbyterian church, and people may look at me funny, or they may not, but it is what I feel in my gut that I am called to, that I must do. It’s the time that I feel closest to Him when I worship and when I dance. It is mine and His precious time together, like praying but saying everything that I can’t say with words. Now, whether God wants me to dance up and down the aisles in First Pres may not be wise. I may appear foolish and get told off by the deacons, or at least asked why. I don’t think we should be restricted from worshiping the Lord in church though, if it isn’t distracting people from their own worship. I don’t feel like I need to find another church for this reason, maybe seek out more opportunities to worship my God. If dancing around outside is one of them, then I’m all for it! I would say my living room, but it’s too small and confined. Besides, I think the whole thing about God gradually taking me to a place where I can worship Him in front of others may be for their edification and encouragement as well.
…lots of it. Next time I will try to practice consolidating… cheers x Becca