"You wonder why travel did not improve you? You had yourself as a traveling companion." Seneca the Younger, Epistulae Morales, XXXVIII, 11
Being independent doesn't always work for me. I find that I agree to go and do and find once I am there that I am alone and really wish I had a friend with me. When I look back over my life, I can really see how God knew this about me and had someone waiting or following shortly afterward when I headed out on my own, taking risks and exploring the unknown.
The amazing thing about the unknown is once you are there, you know God was there already knowing you were coming, preparing, waiting, traveling with you and was the one who kicked you out of the house in the beginning.
Seventeen years ago, I moved from home to get my graduate degree. My mom drove me 12 hours to try out a new corner of America. Within a couple of months, my sister moved within 5 miles of me. Within 3 years, I was married to a husband from the area and on my way to having two beautiful girls in the next two years after that. I am still here. God knew where He had put my "traveling companions" and has provided an even greater base of support with wonderful Christian friends.
Why do I share this experience? I want you to be encouraged that God does call us to take risks sometimes. He also wants us to invite others into our journey so that they can encourage and be encouraged with us.
Do you sometimes feel you are alone in your journey, whatever or wherever that is?
Here are some lessons I am still learning about developing "traveling companions":
1) Pick Up The Phone: When you get an idea to do something, pick up the phone and call someone to do it with you. There might be someone out there who just needed your encouraging call even if they can't take a trip or excursion or go to a bible study with you.
2) Write It: Your journey may be more of a philosophical nature. Blogging, for example, is becoming an extremely popular way of communicating with others all over the world and a way of expressing what you are going through and having direct feedback. You get the feeling of connectedness. I read in a magazine in a doctor's office that if scrapbooking is the way we piece our lives together to remember them, blogging is the way we take it apart (in a good way) sharing our foibles and fun moments that just aren't always captured in hermetically sealed plastic with grommets and cut-outs.
3) Get Out Of The House: Sometimes you spend so much time waiting for someone to come with you, that you don't end up going anywhere. What if you haven't met the traveling companion God intended for a particular journey or pathway in life. That person might be in a planning meeting right now waiting to meet you! Even if you aren't sure you were cut out for a missions trip to Jamaica or Mississippi, go to the meeting. You might meet someone at the meeting or on the trip that God meant for you to know. I met my husband by going alone into the big city to a dangerous neighborhood to help with computer data input down at a Habitat for Humanity project. (I would not recommend this to everyone.)
My husband-to-be led a group of teens down to the ongoing housing project from the same college I was getting my graduate degree. I told you God has chased me down numerous times to show me what was right in front of my face.
4) Take It One Step At A Time: Some traveling plans seem unachievable, big, too overwhelming. Sometimes God wants us to experience the travel as much or more than the destination. If you stop moving, how are you going to get there at all? I want to publish a children's book that may have a sequel or two and a young adult series. I have so much to learn to "get it right" but I trust that for some reason God has put this desire in my heart and if it is meant to be, He will be faithful to me. To do so, I am realizing the incredible need to have traveling companions, or editors, agents, publishers, accountants, lawyers, marketers and the world of supports that surround the writing process.
5) Make A List And Stick To It: You will get so much satisfaction from seeing things done! Check it off the list! Where I grew up, a popular saying now is "Get 'er done!" When I was home last Thanksgiving, a neighbor completely cracked me up (Southern for "made me laugh hysterically") when he didn't stop there but added "Got 'er did!" He was an optimistic man who operated on the assumption that whatever he needed to get done would be done. Do I need to add he is very successful in business?
6) Take It To The Lord In Prayer: Above all, God wants us to commit each action, each risk, and each and every move we make to Him in prayer every day. That way if we experience failure, we know God is teaching us through it. If we experience success, God is teaching us through that too.
7) Share What You Have Learned: God did not create us to be alone. He created Eve & Adam for each other and he will give you what & who you need. However, it does take admitting our needs and being vulnerable to share what we are experiencing to others. If you have overcome some obstacle, others can really learn from you.
Be careful in how you share and with whom you share it. Remember, there is a verse in the Bible about giving your pearls to swine. There will be people perhaps in your workplace who should not be shared with and who God did not create to be your traveling companion. Pray always before opening your mouth and sharing issues at work or in other less intimate settings with people you are unsure of whether to trust.
8) Listen: You never know when you are the one God is using on any given day for another needing a traveling companion. You also have much to learn -- from the day you were born to the day you die and other people have some pretty powerful things to say. My dad always said people think you much more interesting when you are listening to them. I will add that sometimes it is not convenient to work on the time schedule of other people but I think that part of having friends is knowing when & what to sacrifice to be there.
In closing, Philippians 2 reminds us not only to be humble in all we do but to "look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" with an attitude as that of Christ.