Occasionally, you meet people who—without knowing it—completely change your perspective and help you reevaluate your purpose. This summer, I met someone who did that for me.
Her name was Merce. She originated from Spain but moved to the Dominican Republic to make a difference there. Merce first visited the country at the ripe age of nineteen as a college student simply interning in El Alamendaro. Merce worked at a school there and saw that the needs of the people were great but they were not receiving the help and education they needed to thrive. What she saw and experienced shaped her life and burdened her so greatly that, after she graduated, she felt God calling her to return to the DR to serve full time.
As a college student myself, I was humbled by Merce’s story of courage and compassion to move to a place so unfamiliar at such a young age. In college, you are indoctrinated with the messages of “pursue your dreams,” or “find a job that helps you make so and so money a year,” or “if you want to be successful, make sure your job after college has x, y, and z.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the cultural ideals and pressures of what life should look like. You’ve invested all this time, energy, and money into pursuing an education, so to let people down or to be deemed as a failure is the worst thing imaginable. However, I know those ideas and ideals are simply cultural. If something sets your soul on fire or you see a need that you know you can meet, is it not better to pursue that thing instead of the security and “happiness” others are advocating for?
So, was this life that Merce had chosen what everyone in her life wanted for her? Based on my own experience, I would guess no. But, I am sure if I asked Merce if she would go back and change anything, she would say no. Even at a young age, she held her expectations and dreams loosely, willing to let God take them from her hands and give her new dreams and desires.
Though I don’t believe everyone must give up everything they know to pursue their calling, I think it’s time we all became a little braver, not letting our expectations, cultural norms, other peoples’ opinions, and the convenience of our lives hold us back from what we are created to do.
I have a lot of big decisions on the horizon. Though moving to a foreign country may not be in the plan for me, I do want to be more like Merce: I want to hold my dreams loosely and be willing to go wherever I can do the best work, inspire change, and help others thrive.
Will you join me on this journey of holding things with open hands!