Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The two worlds I live in

A “parallel universe” is a fictional idea that two realities co-exist. When the television show Lost was on, I found myself so intrigued by the alternate universes that characters weaved themselves in and out of. One moment they were on a deserted island and in the blink of an eye, they had a family and kids in Australia.

Sometimes I feel like I’m one of those characters, hopping between two different worlds. I moved away from North Carolina five years ago and have had many adventures and life changing experiences since then. Hawaii has become my home away from home. I have a job, a great community of friends, and have started to lay down some roots here. Life in Hawaii is so different from life in NC. Not bad…just totally different. The culture, the food, the people, the landscape; It’s almost a different universe.

Yet within 15 hours in a time machine (known as an airplane), I can find myself back in my comfortable life on the East Coast. It’s almost as if I never left. I thought about this over the weekend as I traveled home for a friend’s wedding. I brought my bags up to the room I grew up in which hasn’t changed at all. The closet is still full of my clothes and looks as if I never left. I went to my childhood church and reconnected with folks who have been going on with their lives and it felt like I had just been away for a few months.

I love being home. There’s something so comforting about waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and walking down the stairs to greet my parents, who are now empty-nesters. Walks around the neighborhood, sitting on the back deck drinking sweet tea…the simplicity of Carolina life is what I miss the most.

Yet I’m not the same person I was when I lived there. I’ve grown in ways that no one there can completely understand. They will ask me about my life and genuinely care…but years of experiences are impossible to fully communicate, even to my closest friends.

But then on the flip side, my community in Hawaii has known me for only three short years of my 27. They don’t know my roots. They can’t fully understand who I am or where I came from. I can tell them stories and show pictures, but it doesn’t even come close to fully explaining who I am. I often wish I could merge my two lives together. Instead of traveling back and forth twice a year, I wish the two universes could collide and my past could converge with the present.

Then again, maybe that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

I was raised in a family where I received more love than most. The faith of my parents and grandparents was deeply engrained in me. My life in Carolina taught me to be confident and independent. And I think it was that faith and love and confidence that compelled me to go out into the world and share it with others. Maybe God was in all of this. What if He used my experiences in NC to mold me into the kind of girl who would be willing to drop everything to start a new life somewhere else?

I could have easily decided to stay in NC forever, but from the time I was in middle school, God put this passion in my heart to do whatever it takes to make disciples of the nations. And sometimes a calling like that involves uprooting and starting a new life in a distant land.

I’ll be honest, some days I get homesick and I wish I had never left the comforts of home. I want to be closer to my family and not face the worries of living on my own so far away from them. But then I’m reminded of the people I’ve met here that I never would have met had I stayed in one place. I think of the students I interact with on a daily basis who are hungry for the Gospel. And I think of the lessons I’ve learned that I simply wouldn’t have if I wasn’t living on my own, far away from home.

And what if my life in Hawaii can somehow be connected to those I know and love back in NC? Maybe the experiences I’ve gained here are meant to encourage those in NC who still support and pray for me. Some of my biggest prayer warriors are ladies at my home church who are unable to “go” themselves, but they send me handmade cards every month and add me to their prayer calendar and send me packages with ingredients for cookies so I can make them with international students. They are a part of God’s work here, whether they realize it or not.

After the long flights and sleepless nights, it can be easy to grumble about having two seemingly distinct lives that are SO far away from each other. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s another way God is blessing me. He could be using my Hawaii world and my Carolina would to simultaneously work together for His Kingdom in ways I never could have imagined. I don’t need to choose one over the other. God has used my roots from NC to take me to the Pacific Ocean and is now equipping me with experiences here that can in turn bless and encourage those who are still on the East Coast.

Praise God that even when I feel overwhelmed with keeping up with both lives, He is working in BOTH of them for His glory! So wherever I go, I will embrace that place, knowing that God led me there and HE is in control. Wherever You lead, Lord, I will go!
Photos taken just days apart. Top: NC with family; Bottom: Hawaii with friends