It’s been about three months since I last checked the amount of time I have been in Spain (refer to my freak-out blog about cottage cheese) and I feel I need to take a minute to acknowledge that I have made it four months. Four months! During my study abroad, this was the amount of time when I was getting ready to go back to the states. Now, three years later, I am here again but this time my return flight is still not booked. The homesickness comes in waves, but leaves just as quickly. With my family boarding a plane to Spain in just four short days, the “missing home” tide is low.
I did, however, think it was time to reflect on my time thus far.
When I think back to when I got off the plane in Madrid, exhausted and in a haze, my heart hurts. My heart hurts because little did I know as I held all my luggage sweating and confused, that the next thirty-days in Spain were going to be hard. Little did I know I was going to get miserably lost (and four months later I still do!) Little did I know I was going to get my phone stolen…again. Little did I know, I was going to feel the pain of being disconnected from the world without a phone or wifi. And most of all, little did I know, that the urge to get right back on that plane as soon as I got off was going to stick around for awhile.
I’ve slightly mentioned it before, and for those who were with me during my first month in Spain, you know, it was not easy for me. I believe everyone has their own experiences, so I will not say that it was normal that I wanted to turn right around and leave when I got to Spain, but I do know that for the majority of people, we second-guess ourselves. For me, I spent the first month second-guessing my big decision to move to Spain. I was tired. I couldn’t remember my Spanish. And I was insanely discouraged. Did I mention, I wasn’t connected with the world at the time? #nowifi #nophone #foreigncountry #nogoogletranslate #firstworldprobs
After all my posts about loving Spain and wanting to stay, I am sure you are wondering…what the hell changed?
The truth is, it was a series of two events. The weekend I went to see my friend Chelsea and her boyfriend in Madrid was a huge turning point. This weekend centered me. It gave me a taste of familiarity (Chelsea and I met while studying abroad in Sevilla) and it helped me realize that I can do this. That weekend, I enjoyed a beautiful city (remember: a city is a need answered), I was able to share life stories with a best friend who reminded me to have grace with my Spanish ability, and most of all I relaxed! I will always be grateful to my bestie for that weekend 🙂
The other event was a little more spiritual. When I returned home after that weekend, I was feeling refreshed, but also I was craving something (and trust me, it wasn’t cottage cheese). I was craving my Sundays. I was craving my Sundays in Columbia, Missouri. I was craving church.
Now I am not going to sit and write a hyper religious post, tranquilo. But, on that Sunday, as I watched the live stream from The Crossing back home, something clicked. As much faith that I have in my heart, I will always be amazed and shocked when the perfect lessons come at the most perfect times #blessed. This week’s sermon topic was “Choosing a Better Story.” As I sat in front of my computer, tears in my eyes and a pen in my hand, I wrote and soaked up every word.
From that day on, my time in Spain turned around. That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing, but something changed (I had also gotten wifi in my piso that weekend, so you know, it could have been situational). It was that day that I decided to stop being a spectator. I realized that everything I do has meaning and that every minute counts. The truth is, I changed. I was ready to live the better story.
To make a long four month adventure short, here is my advice…or at least what I have come to believe thus far:
Regardless of your religious affiliation, you have a “story.” Some will argue you can choose it or it is chosen for you, but either way, sitting and watching won’t make you happy (unless you are at a football game, there’s some happiness there). The truth is you need endurance, you need perseverance, and you need to keep learning. You are running the race of your life; be active in its design. For me this is not merely planning lessons, but accepting the fact that I am influencing young minds! How cool is that?! Find what you love, keep going with it, and enjoy the run.
And so I leave you with one of my favorites:
“The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
Choose your story and love it.