So I’m taking a gap year. Except it hasn’t been the usual travel-the-world-type year that’s expected when a 20-something decides to take a year off. I get a few raised eyebrows when I explain this. What does one do with a whole year without responsibilities if not travel? For me this year has been a year of learning. This seems to further confuse the raised-eyebrow crowd. Who takes a year off after completing their degrees to learn? Apparently I do.
This adventure started mid-last year as I finished up my degrees and honours thesis. Burnt-out and exhausted with graduation looming I realised that jumping straight into full- time degree-related work just wasn’t a good fit for me. And if I planned to survive the corporate world I needed to learn to rest.
I realised that sustaining me throughout this exhausting period was a great God. I also found that the times I was most happy was when I was using my gifts and talents to glorify Him. I found that despite the over-full weeks, marathon writing sessions and a to-do list longer than a wet week I always felt revived when I returned to scripture, regularly attended Bible study and made concerted efforts to engage with my church community through service. With that in mind the gap-year made sense and the year began to take shape.
I was convicted with the knowledge that with time on my side and few grown-up responsibilities to attend to I was well placed to invest my year in ways that time-poor friends couldn’t. But where to start? Where to invest? After much prayer I talked through some options with a friend. We discussed my strengths, hopes, availability and areas where I was willing to be challenged. I prayed for opportunities that would inspire me, challenge me and help me to grow. Not long after opportunities began to present. But I was mindful that this year was also about rest and that taking on every opportunity was not wise.So what can one accomplish in one year of rest, service and learning? Thus far I have:
• helped plan and run Unichurch Camp 2011
• sewn four dresses, a skirt and two blouses
• thrown a dessert party
• made time to read the Bible with friends
• taken TAFE classes and learned how to make my own sewing patterns
• explored Sydney
• learned to cook Coq au Vin, raspberry
soufflés, biscotti and pie
• visited family in Manjimup
•made centre pieces for friends’ weddings
• taught Sunday School
While the shape of my year continues to confuse the eye-brow raised set, I am excited and grateful for the opportunities I have been given to use my rest, my service and my learning to glorify God and encourage others. However, the icing on the cake has been the way that this year has given me opportunities to explain how I have chosen to spend my time with non-Christian friends.and family. My choices have opened doors for conversation, a most precious gift indeed.