When I attended the Greek mission conference last weekend to promote HD to the northern half of the Greek Evangelical Church, I expected to be refreshed from the fancy food and living that I have come to associate with Greek conferences (discussed here and here). My battery was already running low; I spent the first half of our five-hour roadtrip with earbuds in, and sneered, “You don’t know what a podcast is?” when my sweet friends attempted to engage in a conversation with me. So when we showed up to a campground, to a room with four beds, to a dirty bathroom, to a cafeteria full of strangers…I had nothing in me to pretend to be happy.
There were some bright spots (skipping the first session to swim in the sea) (skipping another session to take a nap), but undoubtedly the highlight was when Olga turned up at the conference! We had become friends at the Bible College because of our similar personalities, but I hadn’t seen her since I moved into my apartment.
She graduated in May, and she’s been living in her parent’s home in Katerini. Since it’s only twenty minutes from the campground, she offered for me to spend the night with her on Saturday. I happily accepted, and after being introduced to her parents and little brother, we took a walk around her neighborhood.
IT WAS SO GREAT. She is also 28 (27? I don’t know) and she’s trying to figure out what to do with her life. She feels so comfortable in her hometown, and she knows she could serve well in her church, deepen her relationships with her friends, and stay close to her family. But…it doesn’t feel like enough. She wants MORE out of life, she wants to be challenged, she wants to see more, do more, be more. And she worries that all of these excess desires mean that she’s selfish and discontented. Long time followers of this blog will not be surprised to discover that every other sentence out of her mouth was met with me shouting, “SAME” at her.
We talked about our personalities (Olga: “It’s like constantly walking the balance between depression and happiness.” Me: “SAME.”) and how MAYBE the world needs people like us who are discontented with the status quo, who are idealistic enough to see the world as we want it to be and passionate enough to believe we can help it get there.
It was just so good to be reminded that I’m not a big weirdo. I struggled with this a lot when I was trying to decide whether or not I should stay in Dallas or move to Greece. Is there something WRONG with me that I constantly want more? I mean, maybe, but at least I’m not the only one feeling that way.
And it was also really encouraging, because she said she admired that I was willing to sacrifice so much to pursue this longing for more, and I got to think about what led me here. I LIKE being out of my comfort zone (no I don’t, but yes I do), and I like having to rely on God and on the kindness of strangers and on my intuition. I don’t want to be satisfied with “this is how we’ve always done it.” I’ve been really struggling with homesickness the last few weeks, and although that is still definitely the case, my conversations with Olga helped confirm in me that this IS where I want to be, even when I’ve also got sadness lingering in my heart corners.
So we’re kindred spirits, both in personality and drive and also in other things! The next day, back at the campground, we made a list of cities around the world that we want to visit. During that time, we absently watched a mom kicking a ball back and forth with her toddler. Without thinking, I said, “Ugh, I don’t ever want to be a parent.” She turned to me with wide eyes, and I was about to apologize for breaking the Gender Code when she said, “Tricia! I don’t either! Can we talk about this!?”
We got into a huge discussion about feminism and how frustrating it can be to be a driven intelligent female in a church community that does not tend to value those qualities. She said something awesome that I hadn’t considered, how when people in the church see a man and woman getting along together, they automatically try to set them up…when maybe what God wants from them is a ministry partnership rather than a romantic one. How many amazing ministries are being left behind because hormones got in the way? I don’t know, and I have not thought deeply about it, but these are exactly the sort of thoughts I love friends to have!
So…kindred spirits! They can make 100 degree weather in campgrounds without air conditioning bearable, and that’s saying a lot.