How trusting in the Lord helped prepare me for a study abroad experience
Alexis Motschall CONTRIBUTOR
Photo: Alexis Motschall / THE MIKE
“Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalm 37:4). These words from scripture are printed on a plaque that my sister gave me as a little girl. I always loved this plaque for the reminder of my sweet sister, the delicate cursive font, and the printed flowers outlining the words, but the meaning of this psalm became clearer to me as I worked on trusting in Jesus and surrendering my fears over to Him during my preparation to study abroad.
It was around October of last year when a friend and I went to the Centre for International Experience (CIE) to find more information about the University of Toronto’s study abroad program for her studies. I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point in university, but held off asking for the details for my own program when we went. As we were leaving Cumberland House that day, I felt like I was leaving something behind. The idea of studying abroad would not budge from my mind, and I decided to go back to the CIE a few weeks later. Upon finding out that there was a wide list of schools abroad that I could study at during my third year, I spent hours excitedly researching the universities on the list and the cities they were located in.
From the initial step of applying to the exchange program through the process of waiting for my acceptance, naming fears in prayer and handing them over to Jesus was helpful in communicating with Him. In making a conscious effort to sit in the chapel a few times a week, whether five minutes in between classes or an hour in the afternoon, each moment in prayer was a stepping stone in developing a closer relationship with Christ. Allocating space in a busy schedule to sit with Jesus throughout the week can help with calming thoughts of uncertainty. Whether sitting in silence, singing hymns with a friend, or praying alone, spending time with Jesus throughout the week is a way to “delight” in Him. Just as friends grow closer with one another the more time they spend sharing the more vulnerable parts of their lives, I gradually became more trusting in the way the Lord was working when I continually surrendered my fears over and didn’t let them fester in my head.
Taking a journal to chapel is a helpful support in personal prayer. Writing down all of the reservations I had for traveling as well as the things I was hoping to accomplish by studying abroad was a natural way for me to gather my thoughts. Transferring thoughts from head to paper can be a reminder to recognize the blessings in the current situation and give thanks.
There was so much freedom in knowing that once I had put all the work in I could, there was a point in which I had to lay down my uncertainties and turn to Him in prayer in the times of both excitement and of fear. By continually spending time with Jesus and trusting in His plans, no matter what the outcome is, you are not alone in your fears. In all of the emotions I felt during the application process, He was right there with me.
As I sit in Dublin, Ireland, studying across the sea, I am so thankful for the ways in which I was able to grow in my trust with Jesus. I have a long way to go in building trust, but I know that no matter where I am, when we seek to develop a greater love and relationship with Him, He continually reminds us of His knowledge of the desires of our hearts.