When I entered Mission Year, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I would live in a house, with several other people, volunteer at a service site four days a week, and engage in the neighborhood in which I would be placed. Simple, right?
Little did I know that upon entering this journey I would face one of my biggest challenges yet: Learning to deal with the expectations that I have put on myself, and learning to deal with the supposed expectations that others have place on me. Of course I dealt with these expectations back home. Of course I dealt with my own battle with perfectionism before. When I arrived in Houston, though, everything became much more weighty. The moment I stepped in the door in our new Houston home I realized that I was carrying something much heavier than my two large suitcases. I was carrying the weight of expectations. I was carrying the expectation that this year would be the year that I would finally figure out what God has designed me to do with my life. I was carrying the expectation that I would become life-long friends with many of our neighbors. I was carrying the expectation that since I have people supporting me financially back home I better provide them with heart-warming stories that will make them feel like they have invested their money wisely. Are all of those things happening yet? No. And I thought that things would be clearer by now.
So let’s back up. Yes, maybe I’m not living up to all of these expectations, but what is happening in me in this 5th month of Mission Year?
I still don’t know what I am doing after Mission Year, but I have been blessed with an amazing City Director who is committed to helping each of us 12 girls in Houston to grow in our relationships with God and in our relationships with ourselves. Rozella is connecting us with experiences and resources and people to help us to be the best versions of ourselves as possible and she is walking with me as I step into this period of discernment.
Although I haven’t formed relationships with all of our neighbors, there are relationships that are there. Our team has become more intentional about talking to our neighbors and we are a part of a community group at our church that has become a place of accountability to share our joys and concerns as we learn together how to truly and literally love our neighbors.
So why all of the talk about expectations? Because I feel the need to confess publicly that I cannot always live up to my own expectations. But that is what grace is for. Grace is for the days where I feel lost and jumbled up in my thoughts about what living a life of justice looks like. Grace is for the days where I feel like I won’t be good at the new things that I try. Grace is for the days where I feel too shy to talk to my neighbors. Grace is for the days where I get too sassy with my housemates. Grace is for the days where I feel down that I don’t have an amazing story to tell to my family and friends back home.
Grace is in the days where my housemates encourage me despite my insecurities. Grace is in the days where our guests at the shelter thank me for the work that I do for them. Grace is in the smiles and waves of my neighbors. Grace is in the knowing that God is not done with me yet.
Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo
Grace Kramer is a current Mission Year Houston team member. She is originally from Trevorton, PA, and you can learn more by reading her blog or visiting her donation page.