The journey transitioning back home has been…interesting. It hasn’t been bad but coming back to America also hasn’t been my favorite thing ever. There’s the simple adjustments like remembering which side of the street to drive on and when I’m supposed to flush the toilet (all the time, apparently). But there’s also the difficult transitions like feeling terribly guilty when I have to drop hundreds of dollars on rent or fixing my computer, when I mistakenly thought the poverty I had seen in Uganda would instantly change the way I spent my money in America.
In the two weeks I have been back, God has already began teaching me so much. Throughout my life, I have learned first hand that I can have all the plans I want but God is ultimately in control. Nothing can stop His will for my life (Isaiah 14:27). I am currently in a season of waiting on the Lord. As I wait for God to reveal to me my steps in the upcoming months, I mostly sit at home, in my apartment, in Ann Arbor.
Before going to Uganda, I began the process of applying to be a substitute teacher. When I came home, all that was left to do was apply for my permit in order to begin work. Weeks after arriving in America, I am still waiting for the permit to arrive. We are into May with only several weeks left in the school year, with still no permit in sight. I have made phone calls and sent emails and made every effort to get this ball rolling but now there’s nothing to do but wait on this government system. At this point it’s looking like it might not happen.
I immediately start feeling financial pressure. I have a job at day camp beginning June 15, but without any income until then I wonder, how much will I have to dip into my savings for rent, food, gas? I know finding money will only be a concern for me for a little while longer, and it helps that the place I have just come from reminds me that I am blessed beyond measure. I have no reason to complain. But beyond money, without a place to go for work, I wondered what will I DO all day? Now, I sit at home, praying, reading, and Netflix-ing. It occurred to me how much I grew to love my simple lifestyle in the village, yet how much I am struggling with my current simple lifestyle in America. Is it because I’m usually alone during the day or is it because my current situation is not what’s “expected” of me? I had been counting on substitute teaching, in order to live off the money but also as a way of feeling fulfilled and successful.
God stopped me in my tracks and now He’s using this time to teach me about humility.
As a recent college graduate, I feel the pressure to be immediately working a respectable job, or at least pursuing a career in my chosen field. Yet God has put me in a place where teaching is not currently an option. Once again, I learn I am not in control, and after seeing how God wrote my story while I was in Africa, I honestly don’t want to be.
God is teaching me the importance of being humble as He opens up doors for me work odd jobs to get some money flowing, to sell things I don’t need in order to obtain some cash, and to take a really bizarre gig in order to pay for gas for a trip He wants me to go on. By now, I expected to be teaching in real classrooms yet I’m babysitting and emceeing a wedding for people I don’t know.
These are not at all the things I thought I would do as a college graduate, but these odd jobs remind me I am not a better person because of my college degree. I think before, while I was working on my degree, I had a tendency to feel entitled. Like I DESERVE a good job because of the effort I put into school. But I do not deserve anything. I was born a sinner, who is now saved by grace. Anything given to me in this life is a blessing because of God’s never-ending love.
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I am not too good to take a job that is “beneath me” because serving, in any capacity, is not beneath anyone. In America, unemployment is looked down upon, often judged as laziness. As usual, my biggest fears come from what others think of me, however, I am choosing to not fear people looking down upon me because I am not currently what culture considers “successful.” Now that I am home, I feel pressure to have a spectacular answer to that question everyone’s asking, “So, now what are you doing?” But I rest in the truth that God does nothing on accident and He has me right where He wants me.
I work to break myself of entitlement because nothing I have accomplished is because of me. I cannot boast in myself because every success in my life is because of the spirit of God I carry inside me. Every strength, every hope, every piece of wisdom, comes from the Holy Spirit. Everything good that is in me is God. I try my best to not glorify myself because on my own I am a bag of brokenness and flaws but Jesus in me is beauty and completeness. In my own strength, my accomplishments are in vain and as easily torn down as a house of cards, but work done through the Holy Spirit for the kingdom of God are sealed in Him, unable to be taken away, as they point to my true identity.
“….Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
I don’t ever want to be in the place where I’m boasting in myself, but boasting in Jesus-what He does in and through me.
When I itch to be out of my apartment, working and accomplishing what this world considers to be success, God says, “remain humble.”
I am proud that I have a degree. I worked hard for it, and trust me I would not have that diploma had it not been for the strength of God pulling me through, but I am still just a person, no better than anyone else. When God fills us with His Holy Spirit, He equips us with all we will ever need for this journey. And having a college degree certainly doesn’t make you or me more beloved or more useful in the eyes of God the Father.
In Africa, nearly everyday I would feel humbled by God’s choice to use me in my brokenness to bring about glory for His kingdom. I did nothing, NOTHING to deserve to even be a pawn in His master plan. But He is so generous. He desires for me to come along side of Him and for us to work TOGETHER to bring love to this world.
My humility is remembering that I am a deeply broken person, yet I am made holy in the eyes of God because of the blood of Jesus.
This time at home, without a job, has really allowed me to spend time with God and grow in my faith at the same rate that I was in Uganda. And it has been such a blessing. Before coming back, one of my biggest fears was that I would return to America and feel spiritually dry because my environment here is much less spirit-filled than where I lived in Uganda. The Lord has blessed me by allowing me an abundance of time to spend with Him. So much time in fact, I’m having to keep myself accountable to using the time wisely. Slowly I am certainly consuming every Friends episode available to me through Netflix, but I am also balancing my time with studying the bible, praying, worshipping and listening to God. In my special time with Him, God continues to speak to me as He did in Uganda, letting me know that He has not forgotten me even though I am back home.
So God continues to be good (always) and He continues to show himself in my life in America. Exciting things are ahead as I try my best to stay in tune with what God is saying and what He is willing.