To the spectator’s eye, I’m living the dream. I’m living in what I’m told is the most beautiful part of Germany for half a year, and with living in Europe, comes easy travel to so many other amazing counties. The history is rich, the bread surpasses anything you could ever buy in Canada, the architecture is stunning and delicate, and the cafes are on point.
So why, as I roam through beautiful Vienna, do I ask myself why I feel miserable?
“You’re walking the streets of Vienna, Madi. Get yourself together. Stop grumbling, and remember how spoiled you are right now. Go experience all the world has to offer!”
This shouldn’t have to be a thought of any traveller – at least, that’s what social media fools the everyday person to believe.
(Now, I do wholeheartedly believe that travel can be exciting and life giving, and a fresh perspective of the world can be gained, so this all might just be a personal state of being and irrelevant to the rest of the world).
I don’t ‘tourist’ well, or so I’m learning about myself currently. What’s the point, I ask myself. I walk the streets feeling lonely and homesick for ‘my people’ (travelling with ‘your people’ would drastically alter this narrative). I feel empty and purposeless, even though I get to be in some of the most beautiful cities in Europe over my holiday break. I look at the picture portrayed of each city and wonder what secrets it’s hiding in the darkest corners. There’s so much to learn about history in museums, and I’m grateful to be able to gain a deeper understanding of our past, but I desire to live in today and press into the issues that face our world in the here and now.
Being a tourist in this world, in a metaphorical sense, is not the life we are called to live – it’s not how we’re designed to live. Being a tourist focuses on your own wants and desires, and forgets about the topics that Jesus’ heart was most passionate about. Jesus modelled a life of service, a life of love, a life beyond Himself. He did life with people – and together they had purpose. Our world tells us that fame, fortune, travel, etc. is what will bring happiness, but, based on my own current experience, when I think of the life of Jesus, I really see what He was getting at.
When I reflect on my life and consider when I feel closest to God and connected to this world, it’s hanging out with my family in the kitchen; it’s when I’m with the kids at the weekly after school program; it’s spending time with someone who has reached rock bottom; it’s going out to a favourite local pub and chat about how to solve all the world’s problems; it’s simply journeying through life with my small group girls for the last seven years. And it’s when my heart utterly rips to shreds for the things that break God’s heart – that is when I feel closest to Him.
It’s the day to day. It’s real world living. It’s a life beyond the self.
Maybe all this rambling comes from feeling homesick over the holidays, or maybe it’s just my personality. Or maybe this has been an accumulation of thoughts over the last three months that has some truth behind if. If that’s the case, as 2018 begins, can I challenge you to not be a tourist in this world? Resist the envy that comes from seeing people’s extravagant lives, because so often there’s a story they aren’t telling. Embrace the mess that comes from truly living in this world – that’s often where you’ll experience the most joy.