I’ve recently spent a good bit of time missing my life in Tanzania and thinking about how my choices are defining my life here. My life in Fort Wayne, Indiana looks vastly different from my life in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Or a good thing. But it is a result of the choices I’m making.
What does that look like?
Well, for one, it looks like not teaching, not being a Young Life leader, or otherwise being at all involved with teens. I’d love to blame my job, putting retail at fault for my failure to engage with the youth in Fort Wayne. But that too is a choice.
I’ve chosen to work retail for this season so that I can ride across the U.S. with my parents in the spring. Crazy, right? Maybe. But worth it.
Working retail though, isn’t that much different than teaching. I’m still teaching–just not in a classroom. Every day, people walk into the store who know nothing about bicycles and I have the opportunity to educate them. Maybe its just showing them why padded cycling shorts will change their world. Maybe its sharing a tip or two about the local trail system. Maybe I get to actually sell them a bike that makes their day (and hopefully many days afterwards). Either way, because I chose to work retail, I have the opportunity to meet and talk to hundreds of individuals. And, each time I do that, I have the choices and the opportunity to make their day a little bit better by the way I treat them.
I’m also choosing to ride and race bicycles. It started with one discipline and one race and only took the convincing of some customers to get me to try another discipline and another race. Now I’m racing road, mountain, and cyclocross. Surprisingly, I’m actually doing pretty well–especially considering the fact that I haven’t trained. But the best part of racing is that I get to represent Team Neighborlink. Sure, there’s something cool about being a part of a team. But there’s something even more incredible when that team is a group of people committed to something you have tattooed on your wrist: loving people. Being a part of Team Neighborlink also gives me the chance to get involved in the community: raking leaves, building fences, etc.–all with the goal of loving the neighbors in the Fort Wayne community. [To see a video showing a bit of what Team Neighborlink is, click here].
Back before I moved home, I chose to start classes at IU online in hopes of eventually earning my Ed.D. in international education. Now, with just five weeks left in the semester, I’ve also made the decision to drop after I’ve finished this round of classes. It isn’t what I hoped it would be and isn’t worth my time, effort, or money to continue. At the same time, I don’t regret pushing through with the two classes this fall. It’s taught me a lot: to not be driven only by what people think, to say no, to admit failure, to ask for help, and to be okay with not getting a perfect grade on every assignment. It’s pushed me to my limits and beyond. But I will finish. And then I will quit. I’m very much at peace with that decision.
Other choices I’m making include running most mornings with Kweli, returning to a college group that I’m far too old for, making time for friends, getting up at 5:30 a.m. every Monday morning to attend a ladies’ Bible study, and so much more. In the end, they are all choices that add up to this life I’m leading in Fort Wayne. And its’ not so bad after all. (Though it is REALLY cold here!) In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve reached a turning point, where Fort Wayne is starting to feel a lot more like home. I’m making new friends, young and old (as I always do!), and feel like I have a bit of a community here now, which makes me happy.