Declare What You Love

Kusadasi, Turkey

In Shauna Niequist’s most recent book, Bread and Wine, there is a line that goes something like this: “Part of growing up is declaring what you love.” I’ve read this book what feels like a million times since it came out. Each time something different sticks out to me and parks itself in the corners of my mind for me to ponder. This time that simple phrase is with me when I go to bed and when I wake up. “Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

So, world, I love coffee dates, and I love stories.

It seems like a silly passion, a silly love. People are halfway around the world, passionate about serving orphans in Africa. People are thirty minutes down the road, passionate about serving those in their own community. These passions seem bigger, better. More adventurous and more breath taking. They make mine look like a silly pass time that only comes to them once in a blue moon.

But I love coffee dates, and I love stories.

It’s quite a day when you beg God to show you what you are passionate about and then look at your calendar and see coffee date after coffee date for the foreseeable future. Oh, thanks God. Somehow I missed that.

Recently I had the chance to travel to Turkey on a study trip. It was incredible. We saw so many unbelievable Biblical sites that made my personal view of those times and stories look ridiculous. For a person who loves stories, it was the most amazing trip. Seeing the sites, touching the marble columns, climbing the steps of the amphitheaters, took me back. It helped me fill in the gaps of the stories and made the Bible come alive.

But what’s silly is that when I think about the best times in Turkey, my mind goes directly to the cafes.That’s not just because I love exploring the local culture and coffees. I loved stumbling upon a cafe, pausing our adventures for a moment. I loved sitting for hours across from a teammate who was more of a stranger than a friend, but feeling much more like family in the end. I loved hearing their stories and finding out what brought them to the place they were on that day.

I love coffee dates, and I love stories.

It’s not Africa. It’s not teaching in the inner city. It’s not the slums and it’s not a prison.

But it’s what I love. I’m finding more and more that people are dying to tell their stories to someone who will listen and empathize. We all have stories that are of incredible value to us. We tell them to some people, but it doesn’t connect with them so we feel like they devalue our story. So we stop telling our stories. We stop telling our histories, our contexts, our thousand little moments that brought us to now.

I’m dying to hear those stories. And for someone who is 90% introverted this can sometimes be a struggle. But it’s what I love, and “part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

So I will  continue to listen. I will continue to pursue this passion. I will continue to sip and sympathize, to laugh and listen, to connect and care. I don’t know where this passion will lead. But it’s mine, and I love it.

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Morning visit to a cafe in Izmir, Turkey
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A break from the adventure in Izmir, Turkey.
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