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What my journey taught me

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As a student, I felt restless – wanting to experience the world in all its grandeur, yearning for an adventure I couldn't name. I heard a whisper from inside that I hoped was God and sensed I needed to leave all that was easy and familiar if I was ever going to begin to understand how to live…
By Seth Barnes

Cloud viewAs a student, I felt restless – wanting to experience the world in all its grandeur, yearning for an adventure I couldn't name. I heard a whisper from inside that I hoped was God and sensed I needed to leave all that was easy and familiar if I was ever going to begin to understand how to live my life.

So, at the height of the killing fields in Cambodia,  I left college to go help refugees.

I went on a journey to make a difference, yes. But I went more importantly, to discover a life.

After marrying Karen, I kept on journeying, doing microenterprise work in Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.

And although it wasn’t my intent, I learned a lot about journeys along the way. I learned that I needed to abandon the life that others had constructed for me if I was ever to find the life that I was meant to live.

I learned that in leaving the security of the familiar and comfortable I was exposed to my own brokenness much more quickly.

And I learned that as I pressed into those broken places, my natural selfishness and narcissism surfaced. I was forced to deal with identity issues. I learned that the leaving is as important as the finding.

In abandoning all, I emptied myself and became a receptacle to be filled by him. Until then, I was filled with self – governed by thoughts of my own needs.

The whole process took me into my 30’s. By then I had 5 kids.

My conclusion: My generation got it spectacularly wrong. We evaluated our lives based on careers and stuff.  Our kids look at that and say “Really? I don’t think so.”

I look at the next generation and see that they feel the same restlessness that I felt. They don’t know what life should look like, but having looked at their parents, they know what it shouldn’t look like. They yearn to leave, just as I did.

They sense that there’s something about a journey. They're looking for a trigger, something to make new ways of living possible.

We who are stuck in a world of possibilities we can't see and are sometimes afraid to explore, desperately need to leave the comfortable and familiar. We need to trade the world we know to discover a kingdom we don't. And we need to experience the surprise that, in that kingdom, we will find our true selves as citizens of it.

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