March 8, 2023

Eyes Open to Wonder

When I was in high school, my dad started taking my family on trips. He spent his four high school years in a different country and he always wanted to give us that experience. When he couldn’t move us abroad somewhere, he settled for the next best thing: trips. 

Through these trips, I found confidence. I could bond with people of all backgrounds. I could climb mountains, jump off bridges (with rope!), walk into fancy restaurants and feel I belong. I could hold my own (haggle😏) at any market, and be an explorer in any jungle. When I traveled, or had an adventure, I felt unstoppable. I felt like I was experiencing the “more” of life. 

So, after trips, when life felt stagnant and boring, it was (at times) tempting to think a trip would cure it.

But… 

Traveling to a new or different place wasn’t actually what was bringing me LIFE. The “more” I sought wasn’t found BECAUSE I traveled. It was found AS I traveled. 

Because AS I traveled: 

  • I welcomed the opportunity to meet and love people. I sought to understand people who were different than me. 
  • I had less distractions. I took time to notice the beauty God created around me. 
  • I enjoyed the food, and the tea, and the color of the ocean. 
  • I was forced to be brave and to know who I was in the midst of struggles. 

I felt unstoppable and overjoyed in travel because I had eyes open to God’s wonder.  

And I noticed His blessings more.

Maybe, for you, travel isn’t your passion. Maybe you feel unstoppable when you play sports, or when you ace a work presentation, or when you meet up with a friend for coffee. Can’t we see that these experiences feel so life-giving because they show us the beauty of loving others, of living in purpose, and of unifying with others who are different than us? These blessings turn into idols when we think they (themselves) will give us the “more” of life. Because they won’t. But while they can’t fulfill us on their own, they can help our brain to notice the ‘more’ in life- which is God’s wonder.

The problem is: many of us wait for a trip, or a great performance, or to see our loved one to finally open up our eyes. We go through life, feeling stagnant, looking for the next high. We think the experience itself is the ‘more’ we’ve been looking for. When really- that experience is so life-giving because it reminds us to do what we could do all of the time- tune into Him, His blessings, His plans, and His beauty. 

After writing the majority of this blog, I went to my neighborhood coffee shop and the blossoms from the trees were raining down on the walkway before me. The sun was shining through, and I stopped and stared in awe of the beauty. I probably looked a bit like a goon, but i just soaked up the wonder. And in that moment, I lacked nothing. I felt unstoppable, just like before. 

I hope I always travel. I am so thankful for everything it has taught me, including how to tune into wonder. But now, I don’t need a trip to help me tune in. All I need is to know God is near and to pay attention to His wonderful blessings. I can experience the “more” whether I’m in Timbuktu or whether I’m in my little corner of Raleigh- with the blooming trees and wonderful people around me. 

Because the “more” has been within me all along, and it’s only because of Him. 

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