// Ahhhhh, I love Fridays. Have I ever told you that I’m a homebody? Yup, completely and irrevocably.
I LOVE being home.
I ♥ curling up on the couch with my laptop, or maybe some Netflix.
I ♥ organizing.
I ♥ decorating.
I ♥ cooking, and yes, sometimes even cleaning.
I even ♥ rainy days when I can hide within our four walls and not feel guilty for avoiding the beaches or malls.
Don’t get me wrong… I also ♥ being with people. In fact, inviting people over is the BEST way to fill my love tank. I ♥ coffee times with friends or bring & share suppers, and I ♥ having parties! The BEST!
But I must admit that it wasn’t always like this. There was a time (and still occasionally is) when I felt completely out-of-place here in South Africa. When we first landed ten-and-a-half years ago, everything felt foreign and strange. EVERYTHING! Flavours, language, customs, clothing; even the coffee and toothpaste were weird and unsettling.
Foreign… It’s a horrible feeling.
Last night, we had the incredible privilege to be interviewed at Creative Collective—the gathering of a creative community that we hold every Thursday night just before worship practice. //
Anne Galloway, our amazing Chinese-Australian-now-married-to-a-South-African friend, asked us a myriad of questions, everything from our favourite worship song to our favourite child (relax, kids, I chose your dad 😀 ).
She also asked us questions about how we originally got into worship ministry, and our SECRET TO LONGEVITY in ministry and in life (another post for another time—maybe Erwin should write that one?).
And lastly, she asked us
“What advice would you give your younger self?”
What a great question! Have you ever considered what your answer would be? If you could go back in time (10, 20, 30, 40 years ago), what would you say to yourself?
I thought for a few moments and then said,
“I would tell myself, ‘Unpack your boxes earlier. Don’t live like you’re in a permanent state of transience. Even if you don’t know how long you’ll be somewhere, unpack, settle, and build a place for yourself.’”
You see, when we moved to South Africa, we only thought we were going to be here for a year and a half. I spent most of those first few years saying, ‘No we can’t buy that; it won’t fit in a suitcase. No, we shouldn’t do that; we’re not going to be here that long.’ I lived with one foot out the door mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. And it was terrible.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating—even if it’s just for one of you reading this. About five years into our journey, I read an incredible book called Third Culture Kids which radically changed how I lived life.
The author told the story of a family that had to move every few years because of business. Such transience could’ve been devastating for the mental health of that whole family, but the dad had the most brilliant advice. He said,
“Wherever you go in life, unpack your bags―physically and mentally―and plant your trees. Too many people never live in the now because they assume the time is too short to settle in. They don’t plant trees because they expect to be gone before the trees bear fruit. But if you keep thinking about the next move, you’ll never live fully where you are. When it’s time to go, then it’s time to go, but you won’t have missed what this experience was about. If you never eat from the trees, someone else will.” (page 217)
That advice radically changed how we live life! We started living IN THE NOW.
1. It gave us the courage we needed to SETTLE AND INVEST in this beautiful country.
It gave us the courage we needed to buy a house, and furniture, and spend the mental effort to learn the language. It was hard and painful at times, but man, you should hear me sing and worship now in Afrikaans!
2. It gave us the courage to really OPEN OUR HEARTS to the people around us.
Yes, it always hurts to say ‘goodbye’ to people we love, but that’s not a good enough reason to withhold your heart. Get to know people. Learn to love the things they love, and laugh at the things they laugh at.Fall in love with the people God has placed around you. Click To Tweet
So, what does ‘unpacking your boxes and planting a tree’ mean to you?
- Are you subconsciously withholding your heart and your passion from what God has asked you to do?
- Are you scared of investing in something you may not be around later to reap?
My friend, that’s a terrible way to live. Don’t stay there. Don’t hold back.
In the book, the daughter told of returning to some of those places twelve years later and actually eating the fruit from the very trees that her family had planted. What beautiful closure!
My friends, your time of reaping will come… it may happen five years from now, maybe ten, or maybe long after you’re gone. But plant yourself anyway.
You have the potential to build a beautiful place for yourself if you’d just GIVE YOURSELF to your calling and allow God to plant you where you are.You have the potential to build a beautiful place for yourself. Give yourself. Click To Tweet
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Every Friday, I join an inspiring group of writers to write for FIVE MINUTES on a one-word prompt. No editing. No revising. Just WRITE. This week, the prompt word was PLACE.
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For more information on Five Minute Friday, check out the Five Minute Friday website!