You know the people that choose a cheesy word at New Years and use it describe the coming year? Yeah…that’s unabashedly me. My “word” or “theme” for 2016 was intentional. 

An old youth pastor once hugely impacted my perspective in the words of “Your destination determines your direction“. If I’m headed to Vancouver, I don’t first fly to Orlando. That just doesn’t make sense. My destination, my final goal, is what determines the direction that I head. This directly applies to everyday life. If I don’t have a goal, or “destination”, I’m going to be continuously wandering aimlessly around the globe trying to figure out where I’m at and where I’m going. That seems like a waste of time and energy to me. Why not set a goal and aim for the bullseye? Hence me setting a goal for this past year and defining it with the word “intentional“.

I firmly believe that you won’t become the person you want to be unless you intentionally and strategically live your life. If I lived everyday without intentionally stepping outside my comfort zone, intentionally pouring into relationships, and intentionally seeking Jesus, I would’t grow and I wouldn’t move forward. Complacency is something that I absolutely have no desire to live out. It seems boring, too mundane.

On January 12, I hopped on a plane, flew to Toronto, then Edmonton, then Vancouver, and finally reached my destination of Honolulu, Hawaii. Thus began a six month journey into the unknown. Three months of living in Hawaii, exploring the beauty of island life, and being handed the opportunity to know Jesus on a deeper level. Next? Three months in the Philippines. Now this is where it gets interesting and the biggest lessons were learned.

On outreach (what we call our 3 month stints in Asia), you’re face to face with terrifying opportunity every. single. day. I knew that I could for the most part slip by, snuggle up in my comfort zone, and step out here or there, still having a pretty fun experience and come back with a story or two. OR, I could ignore the great appeal of my comfort zone and let my curious soul find freedom in the unexplored world she’d never experienced. Did I do this perfectly? Ha…nope! However I do know that some of my favourite memories, my most treasured experiences that will stay with me for a lifetime, were often the moments that I forced myself to do something that scared the crap out of me and seemed so ridiculous I should run and hide.

It’s interesting because looking back, most of the things that were miles outside my comfort zone are now only a couple feet away. I’ve learned that the more we experience and the more we step out and trust God, the bigger and broader our comfort zone becomes. It’s a beautiful thing really because that means life can never get boring. What if every day we woke up and said “Today I’m going to intentionally do something that scares me!“. At the end of your life, how many previous fears would now sit comfortably inside your four walls of normal? How overflowing would your library of adventures be?

Okay so sure. I’m a young, travelling 18-year-old with huge dreams and audacious ambitions. The motivation will eventually die off right and I’ll be back stuck in the mundanity of life, going through the motions. I’d really rather it not. However I’m recognizing that life will become mundane, it will become complacent, if I’m not focused on a goal, what God has called me to, and heading in that direction. Aimless wandering will lead directly back to your comfort zone every single time, I promise you.

As I look back over 2016 I’m realizing that the goal of being intentional cannot just be a one year thing. It must be a daily, life long goal. So as I move into this new season of 2017 I’m stoked! I’m excited for what God will call me to and I can’t wait to see what current fears or intimidations will become commonplace in my life this time next year. I’m nervous, absolutely. But I pray my curiosity trumps fear every time.