France/French Polynesia Experiences and Adventures

How do I sum up 6 months of adventure in France and French Polynesia?

There is so much shifting that happened within me...
in my heart, in my mindsets, my worldview, my understanding of this life & relationship with God. Up to this point it has been one of the most 
pivotal life experiences I've had.

From August of 2013 to March of 2014, I went to a Discipleship Training School in the South of France. For the first three months I resided in an old chateau in a small town called St. Hippolyte Du Fort, and from there I went to French Polynesia traveling between the islands for the remaining three months...

I fell in love with the people, though it was one of the most challenging & stretching experiences I've had.

For that season God gave me the song: “Oceans.” Whose lyrics perfectly summed up those 6 months:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters wherever you may call me,
take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.”

If i learned/experienced anything in those 6 months... that was it. To trust beyond what I'd previously thought possible.

God takes us as far as we are willing to go... and I told him:
“I’m ready to go where you go, take me, I’ll follow” he took me beyond my borders of trust... beyond where I could possibly stand on my own... because I said: “you can take me there, I want you to take me deeper, I give it all to you. I trust you.”

These are the three most valuable things I learned during my 6 month trip to France and French Polynesia:

#1. Love is a Choice.

I was so ready to be obedient to whatever God had for me, including my relationship with my boyfriend of 2 years whom I loved dearly. I was ready to obey whatever God would say on the matter, but after asking for two years what God had for my relationship, and which direction He wanted me to go, I finally heard His response while I was in Montpellier in the South of France. {Keep in mind I was full of fear and anxiety to mis-step and make a mistake whenever I brought this question to the Lord. I did not yet have a full understanding of who God is and who I am.} His reply was clear and full of love and freedom:

“Casia, I’m never going to tell you who to choose to love.... But when you do choose, you choose with all of you. It is your decision and you make it fully. Your yes is your yes and your no is your no. My blessing is with you wherever you go, but my anointing is only with you in specific places."

I found that God always guards our freedom to choose above what is “best” for us. Our freedom to choose, and actively participate in God’s creation and the story of our lives, has been a part of the romance and story from the beginning.

I also learned that wherever I choose to be I will have God's blessing... favor/protection/backing... but in choosing more specifically to have God's anointing {Holy Spirit}, I would give Him permission to show me the specific places and certain seasons and times that Papa would strategically have me. I would give Him permission to direct where, how & when He would want me to go and be throughout this life.

Know the difference between identity and destiny. Identity is about knowing WHO you are, Destiny is knowing WHAT you are made for.

#2. Learning to say “Yes” in the moment...

Learning to say "Yes" in the moment of every day and be responsive to what the Spirit is doing.

He gives you pieces for the future to let you know where you are going.
Respond to Him today. All you have to do is be faithful to the pieces he’s given you today and He will get you there.

I learned to sit at the feet of Jesus and just respond to Him in the moment of today, instead of being consumed by the pressure and fear of what the future holds for me. As a direct result I have now become almost anxiously excited for the things to come because I know WHO God is, & by extension I know WHO I am.

He has shown my of His big plans and promises for me...
but only to guide and direct me, to encourage me that He knows where I am going, and to show me my identity and destiny.
I don’t have to worry about getting to wherever He has shown me in the future, I only have to say yes to Him in each moment of each day.
That is one of the most valuable shifts within myself, that took place during this last adventure.

 #3. How to be a healthy Mediator.

 I'd always been in a mediator position growing up. Being in the middle was so familiar to me that it was the position I unconsciously and naturally fell into within every circle I entered. Not only was I the middle child of 5, but also a self appointed peace maker. I often wonder if it is just the natural way of a middle child. I always found myself in the middle of conflicts trying to clarify and communicate the heart perspective of each person involved. I had done it for so long but began to see the harm it wrought in me. I didn't know how to be a mediator without taking on everyone else's emotional burdens in the room. I took on waaay too much responsibility for other peoples in-ability or unwillingness to communicate well with someone they had conflict with. 

When I first arrived in France I found myself quickly being drawn into another mediator position I did not want to be in. It was just a byproduct of the fact that I was more familiar with my leaders than my peers which gave me place be a part of their conversations and in turn conflicts... I was being treated like a peer by my leaders, when really I was a student. I quickly determined that I never wanted to be in a mediator/middle position again, and so removed myself from that place. 

But after distancing myself from peoples conflicts for three months things changed once we arrived in French Polynesia. Conflict arose within my team and I swiftly found myself in a mediator position once again. Everyone was coming to me with their concerns, frustrations, & problems. Still unwilling to re-enter a dysfunctional, burdensome way of dealing with other peoples conflicts, God began to teach me another way to navigate the needs of people on my team.

Instead of sitting & staying in the emotional junk and sympathizing with peoples frustrations, I stopped partnering or agreeing with any powerless mindsets. If a person came to me with the issues they had with another person, I only responded to the things they COULD change... which was their own issues, or ability to communicate, their own unforgiveness, and their own emotional state. I always directed people to the things they had the ability to change within themselves, because at the end of the day, that is what we are really in control of, and actually responsible for: Our own person, & our own choices. And that's it. 

This shift within me was monumental. Not only did I begin to see that I could maintain a position of peace-maker without getting completely burdened down by everyone else issues, but I actually saw WAY more fruit in the people around me. Instead of enabling people to complain by sympathizing... I actually saw people take ownership over their own problems and be the solution to the very things that were a source of turmoil on their life. I loved seeing people actually overcome these things... It was amazing. 

By the end of that trip, God had redeemed that natural role in my life, and showed me the way He actually intended for me to use it to bring life to other people. He had equipped me with the key: To give other people an opportunity to take responsibility for themselves and be the powerful solution to their own problems.

*   *   *

These were just three of the life-changing lessons I learned on that amazing trip... and I'm so thankful that I did... because it changed the way I do life... with so much more freedom. 

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