The best vacation of my life ended one week ago. After nine wonderful days in Ireland, my body is finally re-adjusted to the Eastern timezone, and I’ve had a few days to reflect on the time that was.
I loved spending time with relatives, and I loved my lack of phone service. I didn’t check my work email at all. I checked my personal email maybe twice. I sent a few iMessages and made two FaceTime calls, but that was it. I disconnected as best as I could. So while I had a jam-packed trip with plenty to do and plenty of people to see, I actually felt like I had a chance to breathe for the first time in a long time.
I could finally exhale.
I could relax. I had a break from real life, and with 3,000 miles between me and NYC, I could more easily see how gosh-darn hectic my life in the city really is.
I believe that right now New York City is precisely where God has me. He uses us where we are, with what we have, regardless of where that puts us on the map. Our God is not in the accidents business; He knows what He’s doing. I see Him doing big things here, within my church, my community, my apartment, and even this blog.
It's why I want to continue to invest and root myself in this place, as I have been doing the past three years, for the amount of time I have left here—however long that may be. But the relief I felt and the weight that was lifted off of me by a little more than a week in Ireland is a clear sign that I need to cultivate more rest in my regular rhythms of life in New York.
My relatives in Ireland live life more simply. I recognize this is partly because they live in a more rural area than I do. Yet ultimately, they know what’s important: family, friends, faith. They cook together and spend hours gathered together, eating the freshest farm-to-table food you’ve ever tasted, drinking cups upon cups of Barry’s tea, and telling stories that will make you laugh until your side hurts.
That’s not to say they don’t work. In fact, the Irish work very hard. They have their day jobs and still many come home to tend to their livestock and farms at night. A major difference I noticed between their lives and mine is that they leave work at work. Each home is a little oasis. They don’t have their phones, tablets, and computers out all the time. They're aren't glued to their screens. (Unless they’re 15 years old and using Snapchat.) They were present. So I was present, too.
I am working on being more in tune to the current moment and living a simpler life in New York. I pray each activity I do is life-giving and allows me to become more like Christ. I want to start focusing on the activities that help me grow into a more Godly woman, and the activities that I truly enjoy, not the ones that I think I have to do in order to look accomplished or to be accepted. I will spend my time with friends who I love, and who love me in return. Friends who challenge me and call me out when I need it. Friends who encourage me and who I can in turn speak truth to.
If there’s anything else Ireland taught me, it’s how to give up control. Letting go of control was what my week in the countryside was all about. I had to surrender my wants and my plans—to my family, my hosts, the weather, the travel. I had to be flexible and adapt. People say never give up, but in reality giving up can be a very good thing. And what do you know? Letting go lets me enjoy the present, too. (Those Irish sure know what they're doing.)
Unpredictability and shattered plans are two of my least favorite things. So, yes, there were certainly times in Ireland when I wasn’t as flexible as I wished I would have been. I remember a Sunday night when my sister and I were hungry and couldn’t find a place open for dinner after 5 p.m. I became, ahem, hangry. How could nothing be open? I resolved myself to trail mix and a Guinness. But my dad, being the logical one (thanks Dad!), asked our hotel concierge if there was any food left in the kitchen—within minutes, he arrived with freshly made sandwiches for my sister and me. Problem solved. I didn’t need to control the situation or figure out the perfect solution. It all worked out.
I didn’t plan out my itinerary, or my social calendar, or even my blog posts while in Ireland. For 90 percent of the time, I went with the flow—and it was good.
I let other people take the wheel (figuratively and literally, no way am I driving on the left side of the road). I let people pick out the restaurants and coffee shops and attractions.
Relinquishing my control was healthy and provided the opportunity to be aware, to enjoy the now.
From where I stand today, I am the exact same woman I was before going on vacation—except I feel brighter and refreshed. I didn’t lose myself. My experience was probably the opposite. I gained clear perspective and freedom, something I set out to do at the beginning of this year. I think God wants the same thing for each of us, to give up. Give up our worries, our fears, our concerns. Give over our hopes and our dreams. I have a hard time doing that. It requires a great deal of courage, and a whole lot of trust to know that having His hand in control is way better than my own.
The Lord is continuing to show me the fruits of surrender, the fruits of letting go. He did so with my new apartment, with my new relationship, and now with Ireland. He’s helping me to loosen my grip and enjoy all He has provided for me in this very moment.
Giving up means I can let go of the things that end up controlling me. My life looks simpler, and my day-to-day includes more rest, more restoration, more presence in the present. I can let go and let God.
I’m going to need you to check in with me on this, though, okay? I can guarantee situations will crop up that test my new-found ease and trust. Your prayers for continued surrender are always appreciated.
My own prayer as of late is short but sweet:
God, don’t give me what I want but give me Your best.
I’m giving up to get His best, to be fully engaged in the life He's given me right now, and I am more than okay with that.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.