I’ve recently read in a book about our generation’s college “pilgrimage” to Europe – that time in our lives when we need to “find ourselves” by traveling across the pond to sightsee or backpack and experience life in another culture. When I think on this, sometimes I find it odd because just 50 years ago, people were doing whatever they could to come from Europe to the USA. Now we’re trying to get back? But when I went to Europe for the first time (before I knew there was a sterotypical “Europe trip,” honestly!), my heart was hooked. There was something about the culture that just got into my heart and hasn’t let go. Not only is it the beauty of the country, the people, and the culture, but also the sadness of a past of an oppressed people and an emerging country – of my generation. Something about that excites me – something about the idea that my generation is the generation of change in Poland.
But back to the topic of European pilgimages. I’m leaving for Berlin on Tuesday (that means, the day after tomorrow). There’s a part of me that feels like this trip is really a good opportunity to “find myself.” But I read in another book (I’ve been doing that lately) that as Christians, we don’t need to “find ourselves” because we are already found in Christ. I think there is truth in that statement, yet at the same time, even though I know whose I am, I often feel like I don’t understand who I am. I also think there is truth to the idea of needing to leave your own culture in order to find out more of who you are. When I leave my country, I am completely outside of my comfort zone – I don’t know the language, I don’t understand the culture, and I’m dependent on other people to get around, get food, and just survive. I’m stripped of my usual coping strategies and defense mechanisms – and my fears, insecurities, and shortcomings are often more clearly in plain sight. As scary as it might sound, it’s freeing and it also drives me to a deeper dependence on God and changes me. I think I’m more aware of my surroundings because everything is so different.
I know where to look to “find myself.” That was confirmed at church this morning, as Pastor Miles was teaching us about praying through Psalm 139: “Oh Lord, you have searched me and know me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways…” God made me; He knows me. He knows my hurts, my pains, what I do to protect myself, my fears, my anxieties, my joys, my experiences… everything. And he knows how everything works together to make ME. God knows. God knows, and in the psalm, David doesn’t ask God to reveal all that God knows about him to him. Instead he says things like, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (vs. 6). And at the end of the chapter David asks God to search him to see “if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (vs. 23-24). David wants to be obedient to His Master and he wants to have a pure heart before God. And here’s me over here wanting to figure everything out and know how I work and understand how I’m put together… but that’s not what David’s asking for. David is asking God to search him, know him, try him, lead him. I ought to ask the same.
So I’ll take this chance, this next month of living outside of my comfort zone, to instead of trying to “find myself,” I want to find more of who God created me to be – I want Him to search me, know me, try me, and lead me. I want Him to show me how He limits me rather than how I limit myself. I think that in many ways God is going to use me, and in many ways, God is going to use this time to prepare me for what He has next.