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They tell stories about moments that change your life.

 

“I found Jesus, and everything was different after that.”

“I found the love of my life, and the world was suddenly clearer.”

“I studied abroad in Spain, and my perspective on life was radically changed.”

 

Everything’s supposed to be miraculous. Everything seems to be instantaneous. Everything can be traced back to that moment in time when everything snapped into place.

That may be the truth for some people, but I’ve never had a life-altering experience in that way. I hear my classmates talk about their experiences, and how their concept of the world has changed.   In contrast, I’ve never felt that I was different between one moment and the next.

But the world has a way of changing you, little by little—just enough each day to be a little bit different than yesterday. A little bit smarter, a little wiser, a little more patient than you were before.

Maybe my life isn’t different, but I just see things differently—not as a series of moments in my life, but a continuum of daily experiences and decisions that build up to make a life.

Maybe we can just choose that every moment of our lives have the capacity to be life-altering. Every second of every day, we make a decision. How am I going to spend these next 5 minutes of my time? How am I going to spend my summer? Who am I going to talk to? Who am I going to smile at? Who am I going to love?

I am extremely privileged. Tomorrow I’m flying to Tanzania to learn Swahili, and I’ve never been more aware of how inexplicably lucky I am. I am certain I will meet many people who have never left their country. Some might not have ever left their region. Some may have never left their village. Yet I am flying all the way across the world just to learn their language and culture. I’m sure it will be a crazy and wonderful ride, and I’m sure that day by day, I will become better for it.

I think it will be difficult for me, as it has been in the past, to not let guilt overwhelm me because of just how fortunate I am. Why is it that I, who have done nothing, have everything I could possibly ask for? I will try to remember that we do not have a choice about what kind of life we are born into, but we each have a choice to make—the choice of what we do with the opportunities we are given.

I was reading a C.S. Lewis book a few summers ago and some of the lines stood out to me particularly.

 

“There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person—if virtue comes easily to you—beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible….The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.

But if you are a poor creature—poisoned by a wretched up-bringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels—saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion—nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends—do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrapheap and give you a new one.”

 

I love that C.S. Lewis, here, takes responsibility out of our hands at the same time as he thrusts it upon us. As mortal beings, we can only be what God enables us to. But, he impresses that we have an obligation to use the gifts that we are endowed with.   I can’t believe that Lewis just means our propensity to goodness or sin, but that he wants us to use all of the blessings that God bestows on us to the fullest of our ability. I know that God has blessed me unimaginably, and I strive every day to live up to my own expectations, and to His.

While in Tanzania, I do not intend to change the world or fix anyone’s problems. I simply intend to make the choice each day to work hard, to listen with an open heart, and to learn as much as I can from the people around me as I can. I hope to ask questions, and to remember what I’m told. I intend to laugh at my mistakes, and to try everything new I can.

Readers, sparse as you may be, I encourage you to make a choice as well. You may not be in Tanzania. Maybe you’re just sitting in your house waiting for your adventure to begin, or maybe you’ve had a little bit too much adventure for one day already. But if you’re looking for that flash of light across the sky to illuminate your future, stop. Never wait for life-changing moments to find you. Sometimes search for them. But always recognize that the life-changing moment in your life can be the one happening right…NOW.

 

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“…give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses.”

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