I suppose now that I’ve formally submitted my intention to quit my job, I can now officially blog about the beginnings of this newest adventure of mine.
Yes, the rumors are true. My dear friend Jeanne and I are temporarily moving to Australia as of March 2009. We booked one-way tickets from L.A. to Sydney (by way of Fiji).
A lot of people have been been asking us why we’re doing this. Particularly my mom, who just about passed out when I informed her of my decision.
Why am I going? Valid question. If I were you, I’d want to know, too. In my initial attempt to genuinely engage each person I talk to, I’ve inadvertently and unfortunately come up with a lot of stock answers for this question. You’d be surprised how few people actually ask “Why?” Maybe the coolness factor of Australia precludes any further questioning. As if I need a REASON to travel to Australia and New Zealand, right?;)
But in the off-chance that someone DOES ask and pushes me beyond my usually “Just to travel and see the world” answer, I usually just say joke around and say something along the lines of “Because we can” or “We have an opportunity to” or “We’re young, single and unattached” or “I just want an adventure.”
There is truth to every single one of these answers. Yet none of these replies seem to fully encompass my true motivation.
Especially amid a struggling economy, and in light of the fact that both of Jeanne’s and my job recently gave us major raises and increased responsibility even in the past month, this flight of fantasy around the world probably seems a bit irresponsible. Maybe even ungrateful, at least in light of the financial blessing in a tight economy that God provides through our jobs. And Jeanne and I have both wrestled with the ramifications of that reality recently.
I’ll admit, life has shifted around a lot for me over the past five or six months in unexpected ways, since the suggestion of Australia was planted in my brain. A year ago, you would have found me unequivocally longing to ditch Orlando. If it weren’t for my band The OaKs and the distinct possibility of a achieving musical success for a time, I admit I probably would have left a long time ago. I was considering seminary, working harder on music, heading north or west or someplace different. 2007, as many of you know, was not the greatest year in my life. And with few personal attachments to Orlando (other than my family and a couple of friends), about a year ago, I was poised to leave for anywhere.
I suppose I’ve become a bit of a nomad over the years. I tend to become close with people really easily and quickly, mostly because I’ve adapted to the transience of life. I’ve had to say good-bye to far too many good friends, likely with the possibility of never seeing them again. And although my introverted self used to want to just shut down and become an independent floater/loner (so much easier that way), I’ve inexplicably found myself drawn into relationships with certain individuals and groups. And I constantly sense God inviting me into meaningful relationships, with no agenda and or timetable or crazy expectations on my part. Just a freedom to step into communities and relationships and see what develops from there. To learn from other people who see things differently than I do. To completely be where I am. And that sort of journey has been what’s defined my relationships with people over the past year, whether through FCC, Southside, work, Status and other spheres within my life.
For someone who is constantly scanning the horizon, this slowing down and living in a state of being and being completely present in the moment has been a HUGE step in personal growth for me. The city that I had been itching to leave for so long has become a city that I love, and one that holds a lot of good memories for me.
Somewhere along the line, this plan to go to Australia coalesced along the way, and I found someone else who is probably as nomadic as me to share the journey with. But I’ve discovered that over the past 5 or 6 months, my motivations for wanting to travel have changed. And over the past few months, the reality of what it would mean to leave family and friends behind and step into an unknown began to hit me. God has stripped away a lot of my selfish notions and attitude of self-involvement. I even contemplated (and wrestled considerably through much fasting and prayer) if I was to even still go through with this trip.
While my initial reason for wanting to go was merely “wanting to escape,” this motivation eventually transformed (and is still transforming) into a desire for inviting in a change of pace, change in comfort, a challenging adventure and a season for reflection, or to be incredibly cliche, a time of soul-searching. I love experimenting, pushing the limits of who I am and seeing how much I can grow within any given context.
I’m not expecting to hear from God any better over in Australia than over here in Florida. That is not the point of this. I am beginning to believe and embrace more and more that God calls us to be exactly where we are. Right now, that’s here. And I’m digging in. A few months from now, it’ll be the open road Down Under. So I’ll dig in there as well.
But this is what I am most anticipating in Australia: stripping life of the routine and predictability and seeing how God speaks into that. Fully expecting Him to, just as He has here in Orlando.
I’m expecting this trip to be exciting, yes, but also incredibly difficult. For the first couple of months anyway, Jeanne and I will be roaming the continent and are not going to have any sort of consistent community. We are fully aware of the issues tied to that and so for those of you who love and know us well, we definitely want to be soliciting your prayers over the next few months here.
We both intend to read and write and create along the way. (I either need to bring a guitar or find one in a pawn shop over in Australia, or else I’m gonna go nuts). The tentative plan is to eventually settle down in the Gold Coast (south of Brisbane) temporarily and find jobs and get connected to a community there. And after that, we’ve dreamt of everything from London and Tanzania to Italy and South America.
But plans, as you well know, are always up for revision.
I fully realize that it would be the ultimate touch of irony (and humility) if I were to somehow end up back in Orlando after only a few months. And given the community and friends I’ve been blessed with over the past year, that would actually be an amazing, wonderful thing.
So if that’s what’s in store, I’ll invite that possibility–and a thousand others–with open arms.