Have you ever thought you had it all figured out? Ever pursued something that seemed like it was the “right choice” but soon realized it wasn’t at all what you thought? Ever went for it, and then realized you were all wrong all along?
Welp, Rachel did. She went for something big…only to find out it wasn’t at all what she imagined. After months of planning and preparing for a pretty epic life-change, she turned out to be completely wrong about her decision.
…or was she?
We can all agree that life usually doesn’t go as planned. We work hard towards pursuing something only to find out it wasn’t at all what we thought it would be. We tend to think we made a mistake, didn’t hear the “right call”, or simply made the wrong decision (yep, I know most of you are probably thinking about that really bad relationship you shouldn’t have gotten into). But when it’s all said and done, the lesson you take away from it makes you think that the “wrong decision” was probably in the original plan all along.
Sometimes, the wrong choice about what we thought we wanted, can be the exact choice we didn’t even know we needed to make.
Or to put another way: sometimes, a wrong choice turns out to be the right choice needed to teach us that valuable life-lesson that will consequently change who we are.
Rachel learned an important lesson in a pretty monumental way. By monumental, I mean packing up her stuff and moving her entire life to Peru, type of monumental.
Yep. Rachel heard the call to move to Peru to teach English. After months of prayer, planning, and preparation, sprinkled in with encouragement from people (including myself) about how awesome Peru was, she was sure that this was the path laid out for her.
“There were no closed doors or stumbling blocks. Nothing happened that stopped me from going,” she shared. Even her parentals were in on the whole thing. It was like driving across town and hitting every green light at all the intersections on the way.
Rachel signed up for the TEAFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, bought a plane ticket, and began looking for a place to live abroad. “In my mind, I pictured I was going to spend a month working towards getting certified, find a teaching job, then start teaching English while I continue to learn Spanish…and just…blend in with the culture.”
One week in, and well, it just didn’t feel right. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama (to read about my time with Rach in Bama, click here), and a skilled traveler, Rachel thought it would be like all her other experiences—spending a few months in Spain here, a couple months in Miami there…you know, the usual.
“I couldn’t appreciate the culture as much as I did in the past, and I couldn’t figure out why. It just wasn’t clicking,” Rachel continued, “whenever you travel, it’s never what you expect it to be, but I had never experienced an unsettling feeling after settling—the peace I felt when traveling to other places was usually confirmed when I got there.”
I’m sure we can all relate. You know, that unsettling feeling; that feeling that things just aren’t coming together. You can’t usually put a finger on it, you just know. And with the uncertainty comes self-doubt—the awfulness of doubting yourself.
After a miserable mini-beach-getaway in the country, Rachel realized it was time to get out and go home. So once again, she packed her stuff right back up and said syonara to Peru.
What was the point of all that, you may ask? (Don’t worry, I asked too)
Well for one, Rachel learned that traveling isn’t always guaranteed to be an amazing experience, but it’s certainly always a learning one. And most importantly, she learned to make the best darn use of your time, even if it’s not what you expect.
Upon her initial arrival to Peru, Rachel had made Colossians 4:5 her mindset…but soon enough, that mindset was long-gone: "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity". Make the most of every opportunity. Rachel knew this, but somehow, along the way, she had lost sight of it.
So, how do you make the best use of every opportunity? Well, as believers, it’s by being a light in a world that ain’t so bright.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16)
We live in a world filled with lies, greed, hatred, gossip, and so many other not-so-great things. But the good news is that God calls us to be different—to be that lamp placed on a stand, lighting up an entire house. Our good deeds are to shine out for everyone to see.
Rachel shared how she lost track of the responsibility to be a light, “...and when you lose track of that," she said, "you lose track of your purpose.”
Our purpose, folks, is to shine bright in this dark world. We are called to pour out God’s love and His grace, ultimately making this world a better place—regardless of our current location.
“No matter where you are—not even the country—if you have a purpose, you’re going to find happiness,” Thank you Rachel, for allowing your “wrong decision” to speak so much truth to our lives.
“Our joy does not lie in our surroundings but in the unfailing grace of God. This earth is our tent, and whether or not we like the food and worldview of the other people living in our tent, it is our job to be a light in it.” –to read the deets on Rachel’s journey to Peru, check out her blog at loveandgypsysouls.com