Our adventure wasn’t for the faint of heart.
From day one I carried the knowledge that I wouldn’t be the same when I came home. You never are, you know. You can’t go on a journey and come back and be the same person who boarded that plane. You know before the wings are in the air that you’ve got to wave goodbye to whatever your life looks like in that moment.
There was something about the way the water slammed itself against the rocks on the coast of Northern Ireland that shook me. The way the tide continued to push, even when it seemed that it could go no further. Those kind of moments were the greatest moments of Ireland. The ones I couldn’t have planned for; the ones that made me push harder, rage onward, go further.
I decided to steep my heart in laughter, to let my bones soak up uncertainty. I resolved that our trip wasn’t about answers, so I stopped searching for whatever it is that I’ve been looking for all this time.
We met a lot of people who stained me. Who they are, the places they’ve been, the laughter they bring brought a color to my world in a way that no one else ever could. Their stories spilled onto the pages of who I am and I could never have imagined what beauty they would add and what freedom they could bring.
I found out a lot about the way walls work.
It became so clear to me that sometimes our efforts to save ourselves from misery creates a prison that also locks us away from the good stuff.
On this adventure I realized I was just sick of being held hostage by my safe, self-made cages. I had missed out on so much joy, trying to save myself from all the pain.
But it was the fierce red head who laughs in the middle of street as her freedom soaks the very concrete she dances on– it was that girl that taught me something about letting go. And the the girl with the bright eyes who isn’t afraid to say her piece who reminded me that some of us are born to be bold.
Then there was was the guy who could match my sarcasm and make me laugh about green beans, he showed me a lot about not accepting something good when it can be made better.
My heart just won’t forget the girl who is an explorer and knows a thing or two about redemption and about what it means to hold on through the storm. And I love the sweet girl who somehow tied a group together with a grace that leaks from her head all the way down to the soles of her feet.
Oh and the couple who opens their home, makes you coffee and reminds you that it’s okay to ask God the hard questions, to search a little deeper to find out about the real meaning of grace.
The strangers who sit in a circle around you, who through laughter are knitted into a corner of your heart.
In every single way, Ireland was entirely a surprise and it was what I needed.
I didn’t know it before we left, but what I really needed was for my feet to ache from walking unfamiliar roads, for my eyes to blur from little sleep and lots of tears. I needed to send my walls crashing to the ground and to remember how to say it’s hard, but I’m so tired of being afraid.
I needed that moment I had on a cloudy day when I finally decided I was done. That I was finished with doing it on my own; that I’d had enough of all my failed efforts to save myself. It was then that I heard God laugh and say “good, it seems you’re done with breaking your own heart.”
Long walks that led me to standing next to the water were the pathway to knowing that it wasn’t about understanding everything, but it was about knowing God hears me, that sometimes He just sits waiting for me to say the words.
I found out that love was so much more than I thought.
That sometimes love is about listening, it’s not about proving. Sometimes the proof is in the silence, in the hours that you let another speak and you don’t try to fix them. Love knows that on this earth it’s not about being fixed, it’s about learning how to live broken.
And being broken isn’t so dreadful; no, it opens you up to let it all come rushing in: the joy, the affection, the moments so beautiful that you can’t even seem to breathe. You can’t feel those things when you’re closed and tucked away. You’ve got throw yourself out there and let your barriers shatter on the floor. Because you were born for basking in marvelous things, for delighting in strangers and enjoying the luxury of lifelong friends.
There wasn’t a formula or a check-list. I didn’t master the tasks of ministry or have a crusade in the town square, but I learned about love and freedom. I saw things that I’m certain I was born to see. I sunk my feet into places where greatness dwells and joy lives. I opened up my heart and like I knew it would, our adventure changed me.