Europe. I’m not exactly sure just when it started—this intense interest in such a far away place. I’m not exactly sure just what it is or was that has pulled my mind there and filled me with such an intense longing to be there, to experience it, to be a part of it.
Maybe it began with my somewhat morbid fascination with World War II and I associated Europe with the mingled themes of adventure, spies, danger and a penetrating, melancholy sadness. This was definitely fueled by the countless books I read about the place—especially those historical Christian fiction ones by Brock and Bodie Thoene I read as a teenager. I wanted to be Elisa Lindheim, amazing violinist with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (umm, yea, that dream never quite worked out for me…). Or maybe it grew during a period in my life when getting up in the morning was very difficult, life was often very dark and overwhelming, and fear consumed so many of my thoughts. Those moments when I would catch glimpses of beauty, but it was so far away. I wanted so badly to touch it that it hurt. For some reason I think I’ve associated Europe with that beauty. That feeling that I get when I walk into a Barns and Noble and feel just…happy, like for a while you know you can forget everything else and things are going to be okay. (Yes, yes, I know, I’m a bit of a nerd, but there is just something wonderful about that bookstore!) Whatever it was and whenever it started, this place has been a dream in the bottom of my soul so strong that sometimes it hurt.
I remember sitting at the dining room table with my sister and planning our “trip.” We would put aside a little bit of money over time into our “Europe fund” and we would do this. We would take backpacks, stay in hostels and buy loaves of bread and cheese in the market. Well, the years passed and the sister decided a wedding might be a better investment than a trip to Europe, so I figured I might have to find a new traveling companion. Life continued to happen for me too, college started and everything was pretty much consumed with commuting, working, practicing, and surviving Theory homework, but the “Europe fund” was still in the back of my mind. Over the course of college I found another traveling companion and Kirstin Durfey and I started planning our trip!
It was about two year ago that Kirstin and I sat on a train to Chicago and started planning our trip, and God has taken this dream and is finally bringing it to reality. I’m not sure if I really believed it was going to happen. He’s taken this dream, and I’ve had to open my hands and give it back to Him. Like that time when I had just transferred to Cedarville and realized that a lot of my fund was going to be spent on school books, and I hadn’t gotten the job I thought I had. I realized that I had to be okay with possibly never getting this dream fulfilled, and that was okay. Or the time last summer when I was so exhausted and felt like I was working so hard, but that I just wasn’t going to be able to make it happen. When I tell people I’m going to Europe for a month I get a little indignant and want to tell them that they can save their pennies and go to Europe too! But the truth is, yes, even though I’ve worked hard, it’s so clear to me that this is a gift. The fact that I’ve always had a job when I needed one, those tax returns that were way bigger than I expected, or when I was randomly able to sell my old violin at exactly the right time before stumbling on to a cheap ticket!
Don’t try to tell me Jesus doesn’t care about the deepest desires of our hearts. I’m flying to Europe tomorrow. Maybe it seems small to you, but to me it’s a testimony to the faithfulness and love of my Jesus!