Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Advice to my Past Self...

Me looking out over Venice which really is the past!
It was mentioned to me lately that I had not posted anything recently. To be perfectly honest it's because I don't really have any new news. My redundancy has been confirmed and I will officially finish on 12th March (although since this is a Monday I have taken it off as annual leave so I actually finish on Friday 9th March).

As I was planning what to write in this post (apart from the fact there is no news) I started thinking about the journey I have been on to get to this point. I look out to my past self and wonder how I would have encouraged myself and whether I would have listened any way. My aim is that this post may be of some use to those who are possibly thinking of taking the same sorts of steps I have been and are looking to God to guide them in where He wants them to be.

  • Encouragements come from unexpected places

Encouragement is so important when looking to take a big step like moving to a new country to serve God. I have been blessed by the reactions I have received and how many people are willing to support me, even people I don't know. What has amazed me most over this journey is how continually God has brought me encouragement just when I needed it. It's difficult to point to specific events but God has provided for me at exactly the right times. Even when things have seemed to be completely out of my control, God has not let me go. My work is probably the best example of this. I have had my contract extended time and again, I had my first redundancy cancelled, I was made permanent and I have had promotions. Yes I am being made redundant now but it couldn't come at a better time. Yes I have been worried and stressed over the years as I have gone through my fair share of hardships but God has kept me safe to this point and that is the greatest encouragement I could have.

  • Disappointments also come from unexpected places
This isn't exactly a fun topic to dwell on but I need to be honest about what has happened to me. I will not talk about specific people or events but things have not always panned out the way I thought they would. A combination of people and events have left me disappointed and upset. Some of my insecurities have been picked over, I have not always received the support I thought I might and of course disappointment is not easy to bear. Through this whole process I have been continually praying about whether this is really God's will for my life. I am convinced that it is and although these things are not easy, they are good if they make me turn to God and depend on him more.

  • Challenges come from surprisingly expected places
Many people gave me advice or wisdom on what I might expect through this time of waiting. I knew in my head what my daily struggles are and I knew that I may well face new attacks from Satan as I prepared. It's one thing to know about it, it's another to actually face them. For some reason I seemed to think that these attacks may come from unknown areas. In reality and as a slight surprise to me, it's the same old things that I'm facing. The most obvious and constant one is my lack of patience. My prayer for the past 2 years is that I would be patient and trust in God's timing. It almost comes out of my mouth glibly now: "I don't know what's going on but I'm trusting in God and in his timing." Don't get me wrong, I am but it is a daily battle to stop feeling frustrated when things don't happen when I think they should. I am fallible but God's grace is sufficient for me and I know that even when I face difficulties and I struggle God is right there with me.

  • Fundraising takes a really long time!
Ok so here's where I show my naivete. I was told and I accepted that people knew what they were talking about but I thought that I would be different, that the money would come flowing in and I would be out in a couple of months. I had wanted to be out in Slovenia by now but again this goes back to trusting in God's timings. Fundraising is hard and as a proper British girl, embarrassing! Who of us really wants to talk about money let alone try and persuade people to give it to you. Many people I know have been very gracious with me as I have tried to muddle through asking for support and I am almost there (I think!) Let me just take this opportunity to say that if you would like to support me then please email me so I can send you a form. I am very grateful for those who have already committed to supporting me and thank God for his provision.

So, past Sarah, or those who may be thinking about serving abroad, these are my 4 pieces of advice and I hope I will take them to heart as I continue to face whatever comes ahead!

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