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"Firsts" and the unknown

I always have trouble writing “firsts.”

The first essay for a class, the first entry in a journal, the first post in a new blog… I’m excited about the start of something new, a clean page, but I can’t seem to turn off this nagging voice in the back of my head.

“Bethany, you’ll look back on this in a year and realize how woefully naïve you sound, how much you didn’t know, how wrong you were about so many things.”

And it’s true. At the beginning of any new experience, we have expectations and hopes and dreams, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we have no way of knowing how they will pan out. We don’t know if a new friendship will flourish. We don’t know what we’ll learn in a new job or at a new school or after moving to a new state.

In ten days, I’m headed to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for an entire year to volunteer with World Renew in the area of writing and communications. I’m having trouble sorting through my emotions and expectations. I’ve never done anything like this before. There is so much that I don’t know about this upcoming year.

But I’ve already been learning things through the months-long process of deciding and preparing to go. For example, don’t save questions for your insurance company until two weeks before you leave to go abroad. Don’t assume that during your last month of college, you’ll have plenty of free time to fundraise (you probably won’t), and become really comfortable saying, “Nope, I’m not going to grad school.”

I’ve learned to become okay with not knowing exactly what’s ahead. Through these past few months, God and friends and family have provided strength and encouragement in the face of the unknown. And knowing that gives me the courage and assurance to dive into this year, knowing God will continue to be faithful in circumstances that I can’t even imagine while I’m sitting here on my grandparents’ couch in Grand Rapids. 

So I guess right now all I can do is welcome you to this blog and invite you to share this journey with me. I love to write, to share my questions and challenges and experiences of God’s grace, and I love to listen and to learn.

It’s still not easy to write “first” posts. I still have no idea what’s in store for this year. But if I had to hazard one hope for this space, it would be this: May this blog be a place where I can share glimpses of how I see God’s kingdom unfolding in this world, and where we can rejoice in it together.