“What in the world is it you’re doing in Scotland again?”
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question in the last few months. I guess I was on such a set career/life path before this that my little detour has a few people pretty confused.
The plan was pretty straightforward: graduate college, work an internship, attend graduate school, happily ever after.
This was “the plan,” at least until one day when, as I sorted through online descriptions of graduate programs, I found myself on the NET Ministries website. I’d heard of NET before, and I’d tossed the idea of volunteering a doing a gap year with NET around in my mind, but it had never reached a stage of real discernment.
Looking back now, I don’t know how I managed to wait so long before I did apply to do a gap year. NET is perfect for me (and people like me) in so many ways. It offers so much of what I want: adventure, challenge, strong friendships, personal growth, the chance to do something good in the world, etc. It’s also a type of ministry so similar to what I do back home as a volunteer.
I think my problem was that I was sprinting.
I was sprinting towards a future that was made up partly of my own dreams, partly of the dreams others had for me, and partly of the fear of never making a decision. I must say, though, that I’m a very good sprinter. I was moving pretty efficiently down the track I’d laid before myself, and I think that’s why I was afraid of stepping off it, even briefly, and even for a very good cause.
So, I won’t go too much into my discernment process. It was 10% certainty, 10% not even sure what NET really was, and 80% leap of faith. However, if you’ll permit me to be incredibly cheesy, I must say that it was 100% the right decision. It has challenged me, brought me great joy, and taught me so much about myself, the world, and where I fit into it.
I have learned so much.
I’ve learned more about what inspires me, what impassions me, and what I have an aptitude for. I have a better understanding of why I had so much love for volunteer youth ministry back home and how those talents and interests can translate into a satisfying and worthwhile career.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is the way my faith should weigh into my decision-making. The fact that my career path is not in youth ministry or theology does not make my faith irrelevant to my discernment.
Although my selected career path has remained the same, my approach to it is different.
I have a peace about my future that I’ve never known before, and for that I am so, so grateful. I am confident that, when I am ready, I’ll be able to step right back onto the path I set before myself and keep running. Or, perhaps, the path will change.
Whatever happens, I look forward to every step.
I would recommend everyone to consider and pray about taking a Gap Year.