Shifting Gears

Well, it’s been almost a month since I left Zambia.  There are some days that it feels like a lifetime ago and others where I feel like it’s my first day back in America.  In my typical Liz Bryant fashion, I’ve been keeping busy—catching up with friends, going on road trips, attempting to cook, working, and pondering what I’m supposed to do with my life.  I’m so incredibly blessed to have a fulltime job at Surgical Dermatology Group as the phone operator. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying it so far and am grateful to be employed!

While I was in Zambia, I realized that I need to learn how to drive a stick shift if I’m going to ever spend an extended amount of time in another country.  I had one lesson in Ndola in the middle of the night with some friends, but my sweet grandfather has risen to the challenge on the home front.  We’ve only had one lesson so far and I’m definitely going to need more—but I think I did an okay job.   During our lesson, I also saw some similarities to where I am in life right now.

  • Getting going is the hardest part.  In our lesson, I always had trouble going from being stopped to getting going.  Most times, I would freak out and let the clutch go too fast, too soon and stall the engine.
    I do this in life as well. I’m hesitant to take the first step, to get going but then when I do, it’s too much, too soon.  You see, one of my spiritual gifts is getting excited (unconventional, I know).  I can get excited about just about anything.   But far too often I let my excitement take over and forget to ask the Lord to weigh-in and direct my steps from there.  Then when something goes wrong or not as I expected, I stall out.  I get discouraged and just want to quit.
  • Teachers and encouragers are a necessity.  Without my grandfather (and friends in Zambia), I wouldn’t have known where to start or what I was doing wrong when the engine stalled, to learn for the next (inevitable) time it happens.  I also wouldn’t have wanted to keep trying.
    Life is the same way!  I’m learning more and more that it is imperative to have people who lovingly speak truth into our lives.  We need people firmly rooted in and seeking after Christ to point us towards the cross, to tell us when we’ve mis-stepped, to help us weigh the options.  We also need encouragement, in the good times and the not so good times.  This is a big one for me, as words of encouragement is one of my love languages.  I’m so grateful to have people in my life who encourage me on a daily basis.  Without all of you, this season of transition and not being 100% sure of what’s next would be unbearable.  Thank you for your support!
  • New things are scary.  Learning to drive a stick shift is a little scary to me—mainly because I’m slightly terrified I’m going to ruin the engine of the truck I’m learning in.  But I have to learn somehow, right?
    I received some great advice from my friend Laurie who lives in Zambia with her husband and two sons:  “As long as you are seeking to be the best Elizabeth, fully using and stretching who God has made you to be, not allowing for fear to dictate the decisions…you can’t go wrong.”  As much as I want to say that I don’t allow fear to hinder what I do, I can’t.  The other day I told the Lord that I don’t really feel equipped to do anything at all.  This is probably my biggest fear right now—that I’m going to go into something and not be able to do it.  Yes, I know God will equip me if He calls me, that I’ll have to rely on Him completely, that in my weakness Christ can be glorified (2 Corinthians 12:9), but still…that’s scary.
  • If at first you don’t succeed…The first time I tried to drive a stick shift, I didn’t get it perfectly.  I didn’t the second time either.  I got so frustrated with myself and couldn’t understand why it didn’t just come naturally.   I do that with pretty much everything.  When I’m faced with a challenge or am trying something new and I don’t get it right the first time, I just want to give up because I’m so frustrated.  How silly!  How prideful!

When I first got home, I wanted to play the martyr and not enjoy being here, instead only focusing on going back to Zambia.  But the truth is, I’m loving being home (granted, it’s only been a few weeks).  Being surrounded by the people who know, love, and encourage me best is just what I need right now.  Part of me wants to stay here forever.  However, another part of me wants to be in Zambia hanging out with some of the most amazing, coolest, strongest people I’ve ever met.  When I think to myself or talk to my friends about wanting to stay in America, the Lord tends to throw in some kind of reminder of what He’s called me to do.  For instance, at church on Sunday I got teary-eyed hearing a lady speak about building relationships through the ministry she works with.  Then during Dr. Barnette’s sermon about effective missions, I got a little fired up (just ask my friend Katie who was sitting next to me).  He brought up great points about how we, as the church universal, have fallen short in our missional activities.  He talked about what I lived and learned during my time in Zambia—hearing someone else talking about what I talk about every day made me want to be back there even more!

BUT I know that I am at home for a reason.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll go back to Zambia in three months or three years or really if I’ll ever go back—we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow!  For now, I’m trying to get my futuristic mindset, planning self to enjoy where I am now–to soak up every moment with my family and friends, to allow the Lord to fill me now so that eventually, when He says it’s time, I can be emptied again and pour out all that I’ve soaked in.  Until then, I’m going to continually seek and ask how what I learned in Zambia can be shared and applied here at home.

Thank you for your prayers–I’m so grateful for my incredible team of supporters.  If you’re near Birmingham, I’d love to meet up and chat more about I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.  Give me a call!

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2 thoughts on “Shifting Gears

  1. Thank you so much for your honest sharing.
    You will learn how to drive stick shift (or gears as we call it in Australia!) and God, in his timing, will reveal what he has in store for you.
    It’s perfectly natural to be struggling with such things after being in Zambia – don’t be so hard on yourself. 🙂
    Much love to from 6 Tasmania’s who think you are way cool!
    Love the Magor’s xx

  2. More “smooth start” driving lessons are available when you choose to take them. I am delighted to know that there is one thing that I can do better than you.

    Love, GG

    Sent from my iPad

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