As a young adult I agonized over decisions, desperately wanting to do "the right thing." My mom, in her wisdom, would often remind me that God's will for us is that we become like Jesus, and if our hearts are willing, that can happen no matter where we are. Maybe, she would say, whether I chose path A or path B wasn't the important thing.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what sort of life we're living. While I love my home, the security of Erik's job, and the comforts we're used to, this is not the kind of life I would have chosen. When we got married we planned to go overseas, and I'd have argued with you if you'd told me we'd be living in suburban America, driving a minivan, and shuttling kids to dance recitals and horseback riding lessons. Again, I love my life, and am so, so thankful for the opportunities we have here. Don't get me wrong.
But I'm ready to move on. I've often said to Erik, as we've talked about different ideas, that if we don't do something else, I'm going to regret it. If our kids never live in another country, I'm going to feel like we didn't give them something that was important to us. If all we do is live a middle class American life, I will wish we'd have stepped out and taken a risk in order to do something else.
A dear friend posted this morning how she and her husband and four kids are moving into a two bedroom apartment. Part of me leapt with excitement at the thought of it. No, I'm not romanticizing the idea, but try as I might, I fail to live in the simplicity I desire. I commented on her post that I feel like I'm suffocating in too much space and stuff. I love that my kids have their own rooms, that we have space dedicated to school, an extra table for crafts and projects, a dining table that can expand to sit lots of extra people. But honestly, it overwhelms me. I spend too much time trying to manage it all, when what I want to be doing is hanging out with my kids, enjoying more time with friends, exploring, and pursuing creative endeavors that have to wait because I can't see the surface of my desk.
Over the last few years, something has been stirring in us. Erik and I have been discussing questions like:
- If we could do anything we wanted, what would it be?
- What steps would we need to take to get there?
- If we took the risk (quit a secure job, sold our home, etc.) and it failed, what's the worst case scenario? And how likely is it to happen? Would it be worth it?
- Are we letting fear hold us back?
I am inspired by reading of other families who've have left everything in order to pursue the things that are truly important to them. There are homeschooling families who travel the world, learning as they go. There are minimalist websites, people who aim to own only 1oo things, minimalist clothing challenges, and families who have simplified their lives to an extreme so that they can spend more time together doing what they love. All of these people, these ideas, inspire me. I never feel so free as when I'm traveling with nothing but a backpack, or, since having kids, a couple of suitcases. There is something liberating about not having a ton of stuff to care for and keep track of, to pick up and worry about.
Like my mom always told me, the aim of this life is to become like Jesus. For me, it's to love and serve my family unselfishly, and for us together to love those around us. I know we can do that here, but I also believe God has given us a longing for something that's a little outside the box. Our desires include living simply, having more time for relationships (even if it means less resources), and experiencing other cultures. I don't know how it will all come together, but we're starting to take some steps toward "sailing away from the safe harbor." It's a bit alarming that our oldest is 8 1/2 years old already. I feel like we're just getting started, and then I realize he's halfway to where he could be setting off on his own adventures. The time is so short, and there's much we want to do!
I'm not agonizing over these things, but I am excited about the possibilities. I trust this seed of desire has been put there for a reason, and as we step out in faith and in letting go, that God will lead us. Let the adventure begin!