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Journal Three: Diary of the Open Road

Diary of the Open Road

Diary of the Open Road: Day Fifteen

       

        I can feel my lungs opening up again. I didn’t realize how paralyzed I was. 

        Something seems to happen to me when I travel. 

       I couldn’t notice the pattern at first. But now after having woken up in a handful of foreign countries, I am beginning to recognize things about myself I’d overlooked before. 

           Regardless of the fact that I am probably contradicting 90% of the self help books on the shelves at Barns and Noble, I actually don’t actively try to love myself. Although they serve a very positive place, mirror mantras and yoga poses haven’t been able to heal the deepest holes in my identity. Only Jesus could do that. Please don’t misunderstand my words. I think the self love movement is beautiful and is making such a wonderful and powerful impact in an area that greatly needs it, but I’ve come to understand, in my own personal journey, that the more intentional focus I dedicate to actually loving myself, the more self-obsessed I become, and ironically, the more I struggle with self-worth.

             It took a long time for me to realize that. 

             In the last three years, the Lord has been teaching me to find my identity in Him. I had no idea what that meant for so many years, but once I caught it, it changed everything. And day by day, wall by wall, He has been tearing down lies that crippled me into an unending cycle of self hatred and shame and is rebuilding a fortress around my identity that is rooted in His love. 

            But it’s not an overnight breakthrough. Not even close. I like to think the Lord is far more concerned with working on our characters than He is with making us perfectly whole in a single instant, even though I fully believe He could. It’s a life-long journey, truthfully a fighting battle and a slow victory some days.

            In a culture that is obsessed with self improvement and promotion, I often find myself getting very lost in it, so stuck in my own vanity, and far from the truth of who I am and who I am meant to become, where my understanding of beauty and worth is cheap and falsely measured. 

            And if there is anything I despise in this world, it’s the times I drown in that. When I am so tunnel visioned to only see my issues and blinded by the desperation to fix them. 

            In the busyness of life and comfort of routine, I all too easily get distracted and take my eyes off of Jesus, and that is when I begin to sink. I become a pretty ugly and crappy person if I'm being honest about it.

            But I’m learning, sometimes a change of environment and the unfamiliar do well to bring me to my senses and get the perspective I all too often lose.  

           When I am stripped of my regular comforts and environment and brought back to a place of simplicity, I find my heart returning to that pure place of wanting to love Jesus first and in turn, I naturally begin to see myself through honest eyes, without even trying.

          I’ve felt that happening the last few days. 

          My focus has shifted. I’ve stepped outside of myself and the unending cycle my mind goes through in routine, and remembered the things that actually matter in life. I’ve felt free. Constantly inspired by creation and people and places I encounter. 

          And more than that, I’ve felt a nearness to Jesus I haven’t felt in months. And I’m a far more decent human because of it.

            There’s a lightness in my heart I didn’t know I was missing. 

             I think for this reason alone, travel will always be a part of my life to some extent. I’m realizing how important it is to get away from your regular environment, to be able to put everything into context. Even if it is just for a morning, or an hour. Drive out of the city; go to the coast. Leave your phone at home. Think, feel, hike, write, sit, pray, day-dream.

           These are some scattered thoughts I hope made some measure of sense, but I’m not completely sure how to put what I am feeling right now into words. 

            I’ll keep trying as the days go on, but in the meantime, I hope you beautiful people are having a good Tuesday. I hope you know how loved and valued you are. 

           And for goodness sakes, if you haven’t had a little adventure in a while, carve out a space in your schedule, and get out there! You need it more than you may realize. 

sarah kierstead