My elation at my newfound freedom was tempered with mortification at what seemed to be my huge backward leap in life, as well as deep concern over my future. By nature, I’m a planner and I generally know what’s going to happen in my life far ahead of time. But I was cast adrift with no idea of where the shore was or for how long my drifting would last, and that terrified me.
During the first few months of 2015, amidst starting the process of getting rid of the house, car, possessions and people, I really started sinking into God. I had been baptised when I was a tween, but I felt truly born again in early 2015 when I was delivered and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (don’t freak out, I’m not a weirdo, and that’s a real thing). I voraciously listened to Joyce Meyer (still do, and added a few more to the mix) and read books that would edify me spiritually. I sunk into prayer and got into the habit of talking to God all the time. I started to understand what salvation meant and I started to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that He loves me. I finally understood that all the time I had thought He wasn’t listening to my cries of desperation, He had just been waiting in the wings until I was truly ready to receive His gift of salvation. He waited until I could leave the bad relationship with absolutely no regrets so that there would be no looking back, like Lot’s wife. He waited until I was truly done with the highfalutin job so I wouldn’t chase after another one just like it. He waited until I could willingly let go of the possessions so that I wouldn’t try to replace them with more of the same. He waited until I wasn’t focused on pleasing people anymore, until I realised that the God-sized hole in my heart could only be filled by Him.
I sat down to try to figure out what to do with my life. I couldn’t work it out, had no idea where to start. I started panicking a little until Spiritual Mentor #2 reminded me that I had time to decide, that my faithful stewardship over the years of the resources with which God had blessed me could provide me with a cushion until I figured it out. I fasted and I prayed over the situation and came to the same conclusion: that I didn’t have to make a decision right away.
Once I stopped panicking, God took me back to basics. I realised that this was a prime opportunity and it was high time for me to pursue my purpose. After all, I was the very definition of unencumbered. I literally had no-one depending on me for anything and I had no financial obligations to meet (not counting the house and car payments I continued making until they were both gone). It seemed like a too-good-to-waste chance to start over and really passionately go after God’s plan for my life, which I had to believe was incomparably better than the one I had been pursuing.
The only problem was, I had no idea what that plan was and not the first clue about how to discover it. Intermittently over many years, I had done checklists and tests that were supposed to help me identify my purpose but none ever truly did, so I didn’t know where to turn. Then I stumbled across an article online which recommended that in order to begin the process of finding my purpose I should think back to my earliest childhood desire of what I wanted to do when I grew up. It worked. No matter how I came at it, I kept coming back to travel. Every time. I always wanted to travel. Not just tourist travel, although I like that too. I wanted travel to be my life. I wanted to live in foreign countries, not just visit them. I remembered that when I was in the eighth grade, I wanted to be a UN translator so I could travel all over the world but then I let Spanish beat me and I killed that dream. I remembered poring over National Geographic magazines in my teen years, and even buying a subscription, so that I could disappear into other parts of the world through its pages. I remembered that when I left university, I tried to get a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was rejected, then with Jamaica’s national airline and was also rejected. I even worked for a travel agency for several months after university because I felt that was the only way I could get close to a travelling lifestyle (occasional free trips were a perk of the job after being in the industry for a few years). That lasted for four months before I gave it up as too boring – not enough mental stimulation and challenge for me.
In the ensuing years, my dream of travel was demeaned by more than one person, including my last corporate boss. During a one-on-one meeting, he asked me what I would do if I could do anything in the world and I instinctively responded, without forethought or filter, “Travel.” He scoffed and said that travelling wasn’t a real job. I genuinely think he lost some respect for me that day.
As I recalled all of this, I finally started to believe that maybe I could somehow pursue my dream of travel, that maybe it wasn’t as far-fetched as I had let myself come to believe. And more importantly, I finally understood that this was a that desire God had placed in my heart in order to lead me into His plan for my life. After all, that flame had burned all my life; even when I left it untended for countless years, it never went out. I finally accepted that God had been trying to direct me to my passion all along but I had allowed the world to direct me away from it.
Having accepted that I wanted to travel, I also realised that I had no desire for my globetrotting to be aimless or meaningless. I recalled standing at my office window during my corporate years, looking out over the city and towards the surrounding hills and wondering what it was all for and who I was really helping. Now, I knew that whatever I found to do had to include helping people because if it didn’t, I’d end up right back in a place of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment.
With my mind made up and my criteria established – travel and help people – I got to work trying to find a job. And trying. And trying. And trying. I applied for forty-three international development jobs because that field seemed like the perfect one to help me realise my dream. But as I told you before, that industry is locked up tight against those of us who haven’t built our careers there. It took me six months to finally land the position in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, I started having adventures.