I had been planning for several months now to go to Russia in the fall for a semester at the Moscow Art Theater. It's a very famous and prestigious theater, the school associated with it is top-notch, and the program isn't widely applied for (approximately 40 students for 30 spots). The program is taught in English, so you don't need to know Russian... but it helps. It focuses on ensemble work, there is a lot of homework, and you get to go see tons of Russian performance art: opera, dance, theater. It's a unique and very educational theater experience.
Theater experiences are valuable to me: it's what I love to do, it's how I channel my love for life and human interaction in the academic realm. Add this to the fact that everyone has told me I should go abroad because it's an invaluable experience, and presto! My plans are in motion. There are obstacles, though, like money, credits transferring, and being away from William and Mary for a semester. If going to Russia is the right thing, though, God will open all the doors and give me a peace about my decision. Doors that need to be opened: money. God provides, so I'm not worried. Even if I have to take out student loans, and pay them back like a normal person, I'll live. So that's sealed. Another door: getting into the program. I've got a strong theatrical resumé, and my interview went well. Whether or not I get in could be a sign; I don't find out for a few weeks though, and I would still have the option of not going if I got accepted. So that, at the moment, is a non-issue.
The last door: a peace about going on the trip. I will pray about it a lot, taking it to God during worship, and think about it logistics-wise too. If it's the right thing to do, I'll get a peace about it.
That peaceful feeling should be here any time now. Just wait for it.
"Hey God? Me again. I'm still feeling restless about going. Waiting for that peace about the whole situation. I still feel this nagging desire to stay in Williamsburg... it must just be me being uncomfortable with change again. I never liked moving. Let me know!"
During this time I was reading Anne Lamott's book Traveling Mercies. I came to this passage about making big decisions:
"Many years ago, I was walking beside the salt marsh with a minister I had met recently. I was two months pregnant and had scheduled an abortion because I was alone and so broke. But I was having second thoughts. I decided to let the minister in on this, and after listening quietly, he said he thought I should have the abortion; he pointed out that there was no safety net underneath me at the time- no family money, no expected windfall- that there was nothing between me and the streets or welfare.
But what about God? I asked. What about faith?
Well, yes, the priest conceded, there's that. "But I'd like you to try something," he said. "Get quiet for a moment, and then think about having the abortion: if you feel a deep and secret sense of relief, pay attention to that. But if you feel deeply grieved at the thought of it, listen to that."I did what he said, thought about the abortion, which theoretically and politically I support. But I was stabbed with grief, and the grief did not pass, and I canceled the abortion."
I applied this to my confusion about whether to go to Russia or not. I looked inside myself. There was a want to go to Russia, to learn about theater, to have that unique abroad experience. But then I found a want even deeper than that, the true source of my desire to stay in Williamsburg. I wanted to stay in Williamsburg to keep growing with the community of believers I had found a few months ago at my new church, the Christian Life Center. There I had found lots of very real, loving, dedicated Christians. The deepest desire of my heart was to continue to grow with them, not to go to Russia.
Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't be separated from God in Russia. I would be able to find time with Him every day. I would learn things. But I wouldn't have a community of support there. I have been growing spiritually so much recently, and I very much believe that it's God's will (and mine) that I continue to do so here in Williamsburg, among that community, in the fall. There is a time for change, for new places and new things, and I have been there many times before. After lots and lots of prayerful consideration I have decided that now is not one of those times. On the day I made this decision final, the chorus of Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which includes said title phrase, was stuck in my head. While contemplating whether to go to Russia or not by staring intently into my mirror, the words changed and came out of my mouth: Who says you can't stay home? Thank you, God, for speaking through Bon Jovi.
The more I talk to people about this the more certain I am it is the right thing to do... there is a peace inside me that increases with each retelling, the kind of fulfilling peace that only comes from God. I don't feel restricted by this decision at all; in fact, I feel even more free.