Wrapping up... and looking ahead
I hope your month of June was wonderful :)
A___ and I returned from Europe on Monday (June 28th). I had quite a bit of jet lag, seeing as we woke up that morning at 4:45 AM Poland time and arrived in Detroit at 4:40 PM Poland time (12 hours of traveling will wear you out!), but it was 10:40 AM EST, so I still had the entire day ahead of me! Needless to say, at around 6 PM EST, I was passed out on the couch.
During the rest of our trip, we saw a lot of unbelievable things. In Krakow: the impressive Wieliczka Salt Mines, heartbreaking Auschwitz, the beautiful Pieniny mountains (and the grave of my great great great grandfather), and beautiful old streets and theaters and churches. In Warsaw: An entire city rebuilt after complete devastation, a great tower left in the city as a "present" from Stalin, countless bicycles streaming through the old city following a giant boombox being carried by 10 bicycle riders (no clue why...).
But more important, I believe, is what I learned on the trip, and so this last email is dedicated to a few of my thoughts and feelings.
1. I can travel.
As many of you know, I'm crazy about road trips. But I'm rarely the one to plan something out of my comfort zone, since I enjoy having control and knowing how everything works. After a month of buying train/metro tickets in other languages, finding places to stay last minute after missing our train, and surviving with no cell phone, I've realized that I'm somewhat capable of making things up as I go. I've already started thinking about places in the US that I've never visited before, and I'm much more confident of my ability to just go.
2. Good boundaries make everything better.
Often, I feel like I'm a nuisance for people, and that they're only giving me the time of day because they feel obligated. So if you had told me a month ago that I would spend June asking people I'd never before met to pick me from the train station at 11:00 PM, fed and house me, let me stay an extra night, and wash my clothes, I'd have felt a little sick to my stomach. But I did all of those things multiple times, and along the way, I realized that people really loved taking care of me and my brother. I think this was a way that God clearly demonstrated his love and care for me during the trip. It also increased my already strong desire to practice radical hospitality in my own life.
What does this have to do with boundaries? One of the huge reasons I felt so comfortable staying with people and asking them for help was that I quickly realized: These people are willing to bend over backwards to care for me, but if they cannot do something, they will say "No." In my own life, I often agree to things that I don't really want to do or for some reason really should not do. In the end, I feel like people have taken advantage of me, but truly, it was me who was at fault for not setting good boundaries. With good boundaries (the ability to discern when to say Yes and when to say No), I can care for people and allow people to care for me.
3. I am not responsible for everyone and everything, and that's OK.
About a week before we left, I handed A____ his plane ticket home and told him: "I'm not waking you up in the morning. I'm not making sure you're on the train. If we get separated, I will feel sad, but you can get home by yourself." Amazingly, that made the trip so much more pleasant for everyone ;)
Thanks for caring about me - I appreciate all of you, and as always, let me know if you'd like to have tea/coffee and chat :)
Grace and peace,