When I arrived home from my world travels a few weeks ago, I was greeted cheerfully by my $10 doormat that reads cheekily, “Hello Gorgeous.”
I was not in that moment.
I was filthy with the grime of 20+ hours in airports, on planes, above oceans. I had spent an entire day in the company of thousands of other tired, gross voyagers, so I knew with certainty that my welcome mat was being intentionally hurtful.
But I didn’t really care, because I was home.
If you’re reading this and wondering where I’ve been recently, I’d point you to everywhere. July was all over the map. Truthfully, 2018 has been all over the map. I worried last week as I pulled up to the Nashville airport for the gazillionth time that they might start charging me rent.
But if you’re asking about the only trip that required my passport, I’d point you to a sliver of land between Jordan and Egypt.
I was offered the opportunity to join the team going to Israel less than twenty days before the departure date. A spot had opened up, and I had about three hours to decide if I wanted to take it.
Because I am who I am and old habits die incredibly hard and slow deaths, I began immediately thinking of all the reasons not to go. There was a whole crew of them but the one at the wheel, the captain at the helm of the ship, was a familiar face. Fear herself, barking orders to hoist the sail and ride the wind of doubt right on out of this idea.
It was risky.
I hadn’t seen an agenda after all, and if you don’t already know this about me, listen close: I DO NOT LIKE TO TRAVEL WITHOUT AN AGENDA.
It makes me crazy not to have the details typed neatly out in all the trip’s color-coded glory.
But I had no itinerary, no plan, no idea what was ahead of me. All I saw was a door swung wide open and an opportunity to walk through it. In a matter of hours, I had to decide if I was going to be brave enough to get on the plane.
The only option was a blind yes or no.
Do you know that feeling right after you decide to jump straight into the pool instead of easing into the water? The feeling of nervous anticipation? You know the water will be cold, a shock to your system. You know it will take your breath away and be a little uncomfortable the minute you hit the water. But you’ve already decided to jump. You’ve made the preliminary decision to be brave, and there’s no backing out now. All that’s left to do is close your eyes, hold your breath, and jump.
That’s how I felt when I arrived at the airport on our departure date. Completely out of control in the best way possible. I got on the plane (still) without a color-coded agenda and with only a handful of informational tidbits as to what the next two weeks would hold. But I had already decided to trust the Lord with this trip; now it was time to put my feet in the water, and watch Him fold the river back.
A few days before I left, I picked up a pen again. Not a metaphorical pen. A real one. My favorite actually—a Pilot G-2 07.
(Pilot, if you’re listening, give me a shout if y’all need a spokesperson. My supply is running low, and my sponsorship fee can be paid in pink and purple ink.)
Though I normally gravitate toward a keyboard, a blank Word doc, and a blinking cursor, I felt like I needed to remind myself of what it felt like to hold the instrument in my hand.
And the truth is, the blinking cursor had been taunting and intimidating me for months. I haven’t published anything since Christmas for a lot of different reasons: busyness with work, the aforementioned all-over-the-mapness, responsibilities, deadlines, etc. All valid and understandable, season-oriented reasons. But I’d be lying if I didn’t mention Fear as well. There’s always a persistent, low whisper in the back of my mind that wonders if I’ve run out.
Maybe the last creative thought I had was the last creative thought I’ll ever have. Maybe the last cohesive piece I wrote was the best it’ll ever be. Maybe the gift and joy of writing has run dry.
So the command to write has lived in perpetual purgatory on my to-do list for the last seven months. Some days, it barked bossily at me to get up and put some words on a page for crying out loud. Other days, it just looked mournfully up at me wondering what it had done wrong to make me desert it so completely.
But a few weeks ago, as I sat with my notebook in my lap and my pen in my hand, I began to remember some very important things. I began to remember how much I needed it. Watching the life-blood of my favorite pen run out behind my thoughts, I remembered that this was my best chance of untangling the knots in my head and in my heart. I remembered that this is my best hope of unloading what’s heavy.
The Lord used my trip to work out a lot of things in my heart and mind, but each one fit inside a constant theme: Would I be brave? Would I trust Him enough to take Him at His Word? To follow Him into the unknown without an itinerary or agenda? Would I be obedient and take the next right step, wherever that led?
For me, in this moment, the next right step is to ignore Fear and write it all down. To pull out my pen and spill some ink.