Reflecting on a year in oki
Just a little over a year ago, I got on a plane and I moved across the world to Okinawa, Japan. Drew and I hadn't been able to get tickets on the same plane, so I remember sitting there, for the 10+ hour flight, thinking God, what are you up to?
Drew and I never planned on Japan being the first base we got sent to. In my wildest dreams I thought maybe we'd end up somewhere far away like Alaska, or Hawaii. So when he found out we were moving to an island so small you have to zoom in at least 20+ times to see - I was pretty shocked.
The first few months in Okinawa were really hard for me. I wasn't able to drive, or even apply to try and get a job for three full months. It felt like my life had come to a full stop. I obviously was overjoyed to be with Drew, and embarking on this adventure as a newly married couple, but I just wanted to keep it real and share about those first few months. I was in this brand new world, and I didn't know a single person besides Drew. Leaving my friends + family back home in SC was, and still is, easily the hardest part about moving across the world. I had to leave this group of people that I could so easily be myself around, and I knew that finding friends was going to be hard and uncomfortable.
Making friends in a different country looks a lot like saying 'Yes' when I'd so much rather say 'No'. It meant inviting myself to places, asking for rides, agreeing to bible studies, going to new churches, and ultimately - it meant trusting fully that God had placed me here purposefully. I don't consider myself an extroverted person, so to walk into a room without knowing anyone is really difficult for me. But my first few months here - I realized I had two choices. I could either sit back and the let this season of life pass me by, while I refused to make connections because it all just seemed so fleeting - or - I could try and bloom where the Lord has planted me. I could dig my feet in and embrace all of the awkward and the uncomfortable, and allow God to do incredible things.
Relationships are weird when you're part of the military. I've said it before, but it's hard to choose to wade in the trenches with people when you already know the expiration date of your friendship. You know pretty quickly within meeting someone when they're going to PCS, and for my first few months here, that was really deterring for me. I've never been a person that is good with goodbyes, so knowing that military life meant a surplus of them, was a hard thing to work through. I'd be lying if I said that part of me thought, maybe it wasn't worth it to try and make friends, because in a year or two, we'd all just be saying our goodbyes.
I like to imagine the Lord had a really good laugh when I had these thoughts, because wow, did He really put some incredible people in my path. I met people that poured into my life without question, and instead of being deterred over the time limits of it all, I actually found myself in awe of how intentional people were so quickly. How they entered into my life so easily, without ever questioning what I could bring to the table, or ever thinking that our friendship wasn't worth it because we didn't have enough time.
Time I realized, is something that God can truly do incredible things with, if we trust him with it. I had to trust that what God had for me wouldn't pass me over, and that He wasn't ignoring my prayers - He was simply asking me to wait for His timing. Which of course, ended up being far better than anything I could've ever dreamed. I almost said yes to what would've been a terrible job choice, because I was so desperate to feel important. I was desperate for community, belonging, and worth. And I wish I knew then that the Lord was truly working in the waiting, allowing me to learn that my worth doesn't come from a job, or anything of this world.
Instead, God guided me to my current position, and i've found myself in a family of co-workers that encourage me + celebrate me and it makes my heart ache to think that I almost missed it because I was so distracted with chasing what I thought I needed.
Any new place we go - it's scary. Trying to dive in is uncomfortable and shaky, and i'm not sure walking into a room where you don't know anyone will ever get easier. But what I do know, is that the Lord's plan for our lives are purposeful and incredible, and amazing things happen when we choose to believe in that truth.