So I am back from Italy. IT. WAS. AWESOME!
I saw so many awesome things; met a TON of cool people and the food…OMG the food.
And, the best part…this trip was a fast and a major test on trust.
Let me explain.
Oh, FYI, I am going to bounce around in this quite a bit. Sorry, not sorry. But bear with me…
Every September my church does a fast. We fast for different things: our promises, salvation for the lost, our nation, etc. We were to pick a pleasure and a food. So I ask God, “Okay, it’s September. What am I fasting this time? Is it sweets? A meal? Caffeine? Social media? Routine? (This one is tough for me; I am a serious lover of my routines)”. As I am going through all of the things I could possibly fast, God interrupts me:
God: Italy is your fast.
Me: Are you sure? Because this sure feels like cheating…
God: Trust me; this is your fast.
Me: You mean I can eat all the pizza, pasta and gelato I want?
God: I’d like you to practice some restraint and not go nuts, but yes you may eat those things.
Me: SWEET!!! Best. Fast. Ever!!!!!
So this trip is a fast. Great! I honestly thought :”Oh man I really lucked out this September; I get to explore a country on my own, eat awesome food and meet new people. Not really giving anything up at all…”
Or so I thought.
God took away all comforts of the familiar, the known and the routine (which I LOVE) for me on this trip. It was just Him and I. I haven’t had time like that with God since I moved away for college when I was 18. When I landed in Rome, there was no one to pick me up, no one to guide me as to where to go. I had to depend on God, for everything.
And for that reason, I could have NO FEAR.
Before this trip happened, God did a TON of uprooting this year. Tons. Anything, anyone fear related had to go. It didn’t matter if it was close family or friends…it was gone. And it hurt. I couldn’t understand why it had to be that way and so sudden. I wanted to fix things, try to repair the broken things and confront the fears but God said to yield..and it was gone. Originally I thought it was because of the cancer diagnoses, and I needed solid people and things around me but I was wrong. It was for this trip. I could have no fear doing this trip. None.
You see, when I am afraid, I can’t hear. I can’t hear God, any voice of reason or logic. I can’t see. All I hear are voices of doubt and panic and they are louder than my Father’s voice. Everything within me goes into self protect mode, I push God out of the way and I lean on my own strength. It’s dangerous enough doing that here at home, but even MORE dangerous operating like that in a foreign land. So I couldn’t have fear influencing me in any area of my life, no matter who it came from or where. It had to go.
The only time I felt fear on this trip was on the plane to Rome. When you are flying, American Airlines has this screen where you can pull up a map to see how close you are to your destination. I usually love looking at that little map, but when I saw that my plane was closer to France than New York, I slightly panicked.
” Oh snap! America is really far away!”
In that moment I wanted to reach out my arms and grasp for the tiny bit of America I could see left on that map. It finally felt real to me that I would be on my own, just me and whatever belongings I had in my suitcase and back pack for TWO WEEKS. The thought started to form in my head:
“I am al…”
God: “You are not alone.
So when I land in Rome, it is pouring. When it storms in Rome, it storms. The thunder is literally shaking the train station, there are people everywhere, everything is in Italian and I am thinking…”What on earth have I gotten myself into?”
My first stop in Rome was to be ICF Rome, a Christian church that was 45 minutes from the train station if I walked. Since it was storming like crazy, I had to use the bus. My original plan was to get to their 9:45 service for bible study, stay for the 11am church service, grab lunch then head back to the train station for my train to Padova at 4pm.
Yeah, that plan didn’t happen.
It took a while for me to figure out how to get euros, then how to get bus tickets, then how to figure out which bus to take and then find where the buses were to get to the actual church. By the time I got on a bus, 9:45 had come and gone, but hey! I found the correct bus.
One of the biggest differences between Italy and America is signage. Street signs aren’t really a thing over there. Sometimes a street name is carved into a building, or written on a wall. So when you are going somewhere you REALLY have to know where you are going and what you are looking for or else you get lost, fast.
I did not want to get lost, because I REALLY wanted to make the church service because: A) it was storming like crazy outside and I really didn’t want to sight see in this weather. B) The church would be dry and warm unlike me, who was now soaking wet with a very battered umbrella. C) I really wanted to go to church because this was the whole reason for this stop and I didn’t want to wait in the train station until 4pm so I was pretty determined to make church happen.
So as I am on the bus contemplating all this and trying to figure out the bus stop from the directions I was given, God speaks up:
God: “You should ask for help.”
So I turn around and smile politely at the lady behind me. “Parla inglese?”
She smiles nervously, pinches her fingers together and says “A little” I then try to explain where I am going and what I am trying find and we spend the next five or so minutes trying to communicate. She decides that it would be best to find an English speaker for me. She turns to the lady behind her, asks in Italian if she speaks English and thank God…she does! Even cooler, she’s going to the same church I am going to! How cool is God?
So I got to church. The service was great, I met really nice people who helped me get back to the train station and I had some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.
That’s pretty much how this trip went. God led me along everywhere and provided everything. He was my pilot. He guided and I followed. When I needed to speak up and ask for help, he provided help through anyone I met. When I needed to follow Him and just learn how to read a map…I learned how to read a map. (I disobeyed in Verona and tried to do things my own…and ended up with an unwanted shadow for three hours. Lesson learned.)
And the best thing: other than that brief moment on the plane…I felt no fear on this trip. None. It was awesome to do this without fear. I knew with everything in me that He would take care of me and I could just lean on Him. It was so freeing, and since I had that peace; I had a blast.
There are so many more stories to share but this is getting long. But I’ll leave you guys with this: I am determined to no longer let fear control my life in any way at all anymore. Fear is stupid if it is holding you back from what God has called you to do. Heck, even if you don’t believe in God, fear should never be the reason for not doing something you want to do EVER.
Fear is the enemy’s way of stealing your joy and robbing what God has for you. Christian or not, the devil doesn’t discriminate. He hates all of us, he loves to steal and he uses fear (among other things) to steal from us. And it is so not okay. So if you feel fear and you want to do something, do it afraid. God will be there. And if you mess up (and this is a perfectionist talking) that’s okay, because God restores.
So that was my fast/trip. It was God’s way to restore in me something I managed to forget along the way: God’s got my back, I can trust him and with Him I have no reason to fear..
Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.”