It’s no secret that Curtis and I love to get out and explore this area where we live. I now have almost 300 posts on this blog devoted to the adventures we’ve had in our 34 months of marriage. Every week, we plan out something to do for the weekend – it’s never a matter of “are we doing something?” but “what are we doing, and where are we going?” There are many reasons why we live like this. The main one is that it gives us something to look forward to at the end of the week, and helps to add a little excitement to the every-day routine. 6 days a week, we’re usually found at home once the day is done, enjoying the quiet and peaceful company of one another, but we also find a sense of peace and learn a little more about ourselves when we get out and experience something new. It brings us closer to each other, it opens our eyes to new parts of this state and more of God’s creation around this beautiful country.
Another reason “why” is because we know our time here is temporary. We’ll only live here for another year at most, and we don’t want to look back one day and say “I really wish we had done this or gone there while we lived there.” There’s so much history, and there are so many attractions that are so unique to the area, and we only have so little time to enjoy them. Of course, God could always bring us back for one reason or another, but if that isn’t in His plan, we will be okay with that.
One thing I love about our travels is I feel like it makes meeting and relating to people easier. Curtis and I are both more of the introverted nature, but lately I’ve really started to see why it’s important to be able to meet new people and develop new relationships quickly. When we were first married and Curtis was in college, it was so easy to just be us and only do things together, because we were newlyweds and were always together anyway. Now that we’ve entered the military lifestyle, it’s so important for us to have support and develop relationships quickly wherever we are. Initially, it’s difficult to find a common bond with people, but I’ve learned that talking about and knowing about places has helped me so much in this area. For example, one of the first questions when you’re meeting someone is “where are you from?” I love when someone says “Oh I doubt you’ve heard of it, it’s this small town in this area” and we can say “Hey, we drove through there once!” Knowing where someone was born and raised, or where they’ve lived in their life can help you to understand them on another level. If we haven’t heard of or been to the place, I always love to hear what they like about it, or get advice for places around there to visit.
I know this may not be what everyone’s interested in talking about, but for me, it’s opened new doors and helped me in overcoming my inner introvert when meeting someone. I don’t believe that being an introvert is a bad thing – it’s just the way God made me – but I’ve seen how it negatively affects people and it’s not something I want to hold on to. I think back to one setting in the last year, where I noticed how seemingly easy my dad went and struck up conversations with people and got to know them just like that, and I realized that I wanted to be able to do that. This is just my way of working towards getting to that spot. 🙂
One thing that I find so interesting is that when people ask Curtis and I where we’re from, it’s hard to give just one answer. Yes, I was born and raised in Iowa – it’s obviously where I’m from. I’m a Midwesterner, and I always will be at heart. However, I always feel the need to mention Arizona as well. Even though I only lived there for 2 years, I feel as though it has become a huge part of me. Iowa is where I grew up, went to school, worked, cherished life with my family, made childhood friends that are still so dear to me, met the love of my life, and got married. But Arizona is where I moved into my first home, on my own with my brand new husband, and learned how to be a wife. Arizona is where I went after moving out of my parent’s home – it’s where I became independent, in a co-dependant to my husband sort of way. 😉 I feel like I really lived every day in Arizona to the fullest. In my short 2 years of Arizona, I got to know the state as a whole by traveling through every county and hiking all over the state. I know Arizona so much better than I know Iowa, because when I lived in Iowa, I didn’t have the mindset of “enjoy this place while I’m here.” I can see myself retiring one day either to Iowa or Arizona, and being very happy there. (Ok, not so much in the Iowa winter…maybe I’m supposed to be a snowbirder?)
One thing that’s troubled me lately is wondering if traveling has become an idol to me. I sure think about it a lot, and dream about all the places in this world that I’d like to visit. Instead of dwelling on the selfish aspect of this, I am trying to focus my mind on why God created such a beautiful earth if He knew that it was going to be so filled with sin. After all, when He was finished creating the universe, the earth, and life itself, He said it was good, and it was made in His image. I believe that God created all things to display His glory. By going out and experiencing His creation, I can learn more about His character, and all the beauty that I see should lead to more praise and thanks for what a great God I serve. I know I can be worshipping Him and living by faith anywhere I am, in everything I’m doing. I know He gave me this love for traveling and experiencing His creation all over, what I need to to is live by the Spirit and use this love for good.
I’ve also been going through sermon transcriptions the book of Revelation while working for my pastor, and I’m nearing the end of the book where it talks about the Millennial Kingdom and the New Heaven and New Earth. I started to wonder what’s the purpose of traveling and seeing the world since this world is going to be gone someday – besides my selfish thinking “enjoy it while it’s still here!” I think that because God made this world in His image, He does want us to explore and get to know Him better through the world He created. I think that through traveling and learning in this world, He will open new doors for meeting people He may want me to reach out to. And as for the new Heaven and new Earth, I believe that He will create those in His image as well, and they will be perfect and sinless – we can’t even imagine the beauty that will be there! All of God’s glory displayed in a world without sin can only lead us to fall on our knees in awe of His majesty. And that’s exactly what will be happening in that time. Every tongue, nation, people, praising Him for who He is. What an incredible thought.
My takeaway from this is to ask God to give me wisdom and make me more spiritually minded when experiencing His creation. I am human with a sinful, fleshly nature, and when I’m not living by the Holy Spirit, my love for traveling becomes and idol and I’m filled with discontent for not going where I want to go, jealousy when I see others traveling to places I’ve never been, and selfish desires for wanting to go out and explore. When I am living by the Spirit, I am able to experience God’s glory in a new way through creation, and my thoughts are less about myself and more about Him. I start to discover why He made me this way, and that leads to open doors for what He’s prepared for me.