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How should I measure this year?

So I find myself sitting at a public park in Carmel because its public amenities are on par with that of a small Scandinavian country and all I want is a little bit of quiet to escape from my admittedly already pretty escapist life.

As I’m watching the sunset and batting off the pesky gnats that are ruining the Quietly Ethereal™ aesthetic I’m going for, I get a song stuck in my head out of nowhere.

Yes, that’s right. The iconic song “525,600 Minutes (Seasons of Love)” from the musical Rent popped up in my head.

That schmaltzy line “how do you measure, measure a year?” sent me into hysterics, interrupting my time I was supposed to spend meditating and ruminating by myself about important things like where to hide all my stuff so my sisters don’t redistribute it between themselves and if I can fake my death so Navient never finds me.

It seems to me whenever you’re avoiding something, it’ll come crashing towards you eventually…usually in public…usually with tears. Murphy’s Law, ammirite?

I know I’ve known for months that I would be moving across the world for a year to do I job that I am so ready for and passionate about. But a year seems unfathomable in two different ways: the time you’ll be somewhere new and the time you will not be home.

How do I measure a year in a new country? A month somewhere foreign can feel like centuries but you look back at it like the snap of a finger. But twelve months? How can I settle my heart for that? How do I begin to anticipate how to slowly build up a tolerance for feeling overwhelmed, displaced, and invigorated all the time? For the constant heartache and longing for familiarity? For the bouts of fear, fatigue, and loss of self one can feel in life’s biggest transitions? How do I soothe myself in light of the unknown? How do I calm the beating of my heart though, for untrodden paths, new relationships with people I will love and do not know yet, and the places that will sing for me? Is it just immeasurable?

And how do I measure a year away from home? How many memories will I miss, of Molly calling home from college, or Emma asking for rides, or visits to Paris’ class and helping her with her homework and having her ask in her squeaky voice if we can cuddle and watch “Anne of Green Gables”? How do I celebrate the milestones of those I love from far away? How many hugs and kisses will I miss? How does the loss of seeing one of my greatest friends get married or the uncertainty of the health of my great-grandfather measure in a worthy sacrifice? And what about the beautiful things of Indiana? The blazing sunsets, quaint drive-ins, and long drives through golden highways listening to “Boys of Summer” and “Come on, Eileen”? My home state feels like a tamed wild animal that slumbers in a ray of sun at my feet and dare I say…I’ll miss it.

I cannot wrap my head around time and I am soothed only in knowing that I am following purpose. For as much as this year is measured in the passage of time, it will also be valued in the lives forever affected by the work of IJM. Every girl who is rescued, every child restored to humanity and innocence, every abuser put away, every victory celebrated, and every opportunity I will surrender to say “here I am, Lord. Make me a defender of the poor and weak in spirit no matter the cost”, those will be the marks of this year.

Am I ready? Am I prepared? Am I open?

All I know is that I’m crying on a bench in public so… you tell me.

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