Life is like a spider web. We start in the middle when we are born to a set of circumstances, within a family within a culture within a country. We are born on this point of time on the spider web who we are with all of the privilege and adveristy that come with being born in that specific point of time on the web of life.
The spider web spins out from that point. Lines of the web cross and overlap. There are millions of crossroads on the spider web and hundreds of outcomes surrouding the edges of the web.
I started out my spider web life in Westland, Michigan with Rae-Marie and Michael and a couple of cats. I started out white and straight and middle class. I started out sassy and decisive and smart. And I started walking.
Choices and decisions (sometimes mine, sometimes others) and circumstances determined which strand I walked upon. When I was 11 God spoke to me very clearly about what He had for me and I put my feet on the strand of “teach in a Spanish speaking country” with purpose. I have walked along that strand for nearly 2 decades. It has been so good.
For seven and a half years the strand of “teach in a Spanish speaking country” was right on top of “live in the Dominican Republic forever.” They were strong and straight and I did not falter or fall off of those twin strands. YouthWorks has crisscrossed in and out and over and under those strands. For a while I hopped off teaching when I came to a crossroads with one way labeled “manage a hostel.”
Here’s the thing. Living in the Dominican Republic for the rest of my life felt like the right thing. Until it didn’t.
Some unidentifiable choice or decision (mine or another’s) caused me to turn off of the strand called “life in the Dominican Republic forever.” In my mind’s eye I see myself walking this spider web and taking a sharp right turn.
On Tuesday, February 4 I used my morning free period to go to the bank. I had been feeling restless for a couple of months. In December I proudly and excitedly shared my plans with family and friends to start saving up to build a tiny house here in Jarabacoa. It sounded nice, but didn’t get rid of that restless feeling.
In January my roommate and I started looking for a smaller house in a quieter area to rent. We didn’t end up finding anything, and it only made me feel more restless.
While waiting in line at the bank I started thinking about this restless feeling, leaning into it rather than attempting to dismiss it with plans. Feelings are for feeling, after all. I had tried to fix the restlessness with a new house but since that didn’t work I started thinking about other aspects of my life.
I thought about my job. I thought about doing everything I did this school year again next school year. The restless spirits in my gut went crazy. For years I’ve been training myself to listen to my gut, so I leaned into those feelings and I let myself wonder. “Okay, what if I didn’t work at JCS again next year. What would I do? What would I want to do?” I let myself dream. “I’ve always wanted to work at a camp,” I reminded/admitted to myself.
There is a Young Life Camp here in Jarabacoa, but the North American staff there are Young Life missionaries, raising support. I have never felt called to raise financial support, but I let myself dream a little more. “What if I work at a camp NOT in Jarabacoa?” I thought. And in that instant in line at the bank on a Tuesday morning I felt like I was floating.
In the next few months I will wrap up my life here in Jarabacoa. I will turn in grades and pack up my classroom (and my office). I will sell things and organize things and pack things. I will watch my friend get married in August and go on one more Dominican beach trip with my parents.* Then I will pack up my leggings and my dogs and get on a plane. I will meet my parents in Florida and then we’ll drive for a couple days to Michigan where I will spend a few weeks enjoying being close to my family. From Michigan I will send my resume to every camp (without homophobic theology) in Tennesee and West Virginia. If none of them want me I’ll widen my net.
I don’t feel restless anymore. I want to be clear that this is not me starting over. I take so much with me as I move forward on this strand of life’s spider web. I’m ready for something new.
*COVID depending, of course