Wednesday, July 17, 2013

rivers, rapids, and what I learned about exchange while rafting

i ride the rapids for a reason.

well, that was rather cryptic. let me explain.

about a month ago, i went rafting with a youth group. the guide on our raft asked us to think about the river and what we could learn from it. at first i thought that was weird and a little too pocahontas-y--you know, "colors of the riverbend" or however that song goes--but because i enjoy thinking, i thought about it anyway.

and i realized that i am approaching a rapid very quickly--i am going to switzerland--and that scares me as if it WERE a rapid. and it frightens me, because people tell me stories about europe and horror stories about exchange and ask me why on earth i would want to go until i'm not even sure myself anymore. until i'm asking why. until i'm doubting ever riding the rapid in the first place.
but there, on the river, i realized why i want to go. it's for the same reason i want to ride the rapids. they are scary, yes, and they are mostly optional, yes, and in some ways they also carry danger. but at the same time, there are things you learn from the rapids that you never find on the smooth water. there's a joy and courage and strength and exhilaration that comes from riding the rapids--that feeling of victory and the thrill of being a part of what you really want to do. and if this is my rapid, my adventure, then i need to pursue it.

to put it another way: have you ever felt like maybe everything was too easy? not too easy in the way that nothing is hard enough... more too easy in the way that it's hard at the beginning, but after a couple days/weeks/months it becomes easier. commonplace. and not hard anymore.

and haven't you ever longed for something that would present a constant challenge? that would become your life, that would be something you live day in and day out? something that wouldn't become easier, but that would challenge you physically and mentally and socially all the time?

because i want something like that. i want to know that i am being challenged and that i have a story worth telling. and for me, that is the one thing that holds me to exchange--the fact that it is a growing experience like nothing i've ever seen before.


  1. It's on the rapids that you really trust God, because you know so much of it is out of your control. And then you are so much stronger than you ever thought you could be.
    I hope you blog the entire time. We'll be following.

    1. So true... thanks for the reminder. I've found that, ironically, it's a lot harder for me to remember to trust Him in everyday life (when I "don't need" Him).
      Tell Emma and Annika I say hello :)


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