When What Resonates With You Looks Ridiculous to Others

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Nicole T Walters -When What Resonates3

Have you ever felt a connection to a place without yet visiting it? A kinship with a people you’ve never met?

That’s the way I felt when I first dreamed of going to South Asia. Tiny glimpses of a vibrant culture ignited a fire inside that didn’t make any sense, but wouldn’t let go of me. Friends and family thought it was absurd. I feared they might be right, but I had to see for myself.

For two months I lived in a land I’d only known in my dreams. But the moment the sticky heat of that crowded city hit my skin on the tarmac, I felt connected. It was like a physical weight settled over my body and the presence of a place felt like home even though I had never known it outside of stories and photographs.

Now I find myself back at that strange avenue between worlds again. My family has been working towards moving to South Asia for over a year. When the door to the city we had been planning to move, slammed shut a few months ago, we were left scrambling and asking God what it all meant.

A place was suggested and we resisted at first. But then the power of a story entered in, that mysterious feeling of belonging tugging at our hearts. We watched a video of a woman who had been a child-bride. She had complications in childbirth that had stripped her of her child, her husband and her dignity. She received the care she needed and training in a skill. She had a hope and a future again and her face beamed. Her joy crossed the miles between us and drew me to a sister I might never meet but who is changing the destiny of my entire family with her story.

We watched video after video, read stories and talked to people who live there. We made the decision to move to a city we have never visited, a country that is foreign to us. Ridiculous? Maybe.

Sure? We couldn’t be more certain.

When we tell people we want to move to a developing nation, we get those looks.  A place without the comforts we’re accustomed to, with the risk of natural disasters, overwhelming poverty and illiteracy, and (God forbid) no A/C in a tropical climate! But it’s also a place with kind and hospitable people, with great need and little being done to help. A need we have just the skills to fill.

We were talking to someone the other day about how many people think this is a particularly difficult place to live and work in. There were those within our company who are surprised we’d move there without visiting first. She said that she had lived in a place that most people run from, too and just had a love for it she couldn’t name.

I told her that we often get those “Glad it’s you, not me” comments and “Man, I hated that place” from those who have visited. And honestly we get it. Who would love a place with trash on every street and human feces on the train tracks? Why would you take your family to one of the most crowded places on earth, the kind of place that requires extra shots and mosquito nets, almost certain parasites and sickness?

But we don’t see those things when we look at South Asia. We see the sad eyes of the hungry children and the laughing eyes of a stranger who doesn’t stay one for long. We see color and life, people who know how to care for each other and welcome the outsider. We see the beauty beyond the chaos that appeals to our hearts in a way we can’t explain.

What resonates with you won’t impact everyone the same way. And that’s okay. But you have to find that thing that stirs your heart, that calls to your soul. That still voice inside that says this makes sense when the world around you says it’s nuts. Maybe it’s a place, a cause, a person, or an idea. What is it that affects you so deeply you can’t turn away any more? Find what God has placed in you—that thing which truly resonates—and, as Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!”

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Nicole T Walters
I love to experience and to write about this messy, noisy, beautiful world and cultures not my own. My family currently calls the southern United States home but I travel internationally as often as she gets the chance with my husband and two little ones. I hope to help others create space to hear God’s voice in the all the noise of life as I write about faith from a global perspective at A Voice in the Noise {nicoleTwalters.com}. My writing has appeared in places like Relevant, CT Women, and Ready. I am a regular contributor here at SheLoves and over at The Mudroom, and am a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. You can read more of my story in my essay included in the newly released book Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives.
Nicole T Walters
Nicole T Walters

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Nicole T Walters
  • Nicole, I am so excited for you and your family. Watching this new season in your life come to fruition from a distance has been faith-building, and now hearing more details about your ultimate destination makes me realize how important it will be for us to stand behind you in prayer as you find your way forward in this challenging location.

    • xoxo, thank you so much for your prayers! I feel like you aren’t at a distance, friend:)

  • Heather Heaton

    Love this! I have been convicted lately to keep pressing into the next step, the next hard thing, even though my circumstances speak against it. God is gently reminding me of how my eyesight is limited, and the more I trust and obey Him, the crazy ideas become an impassioned assignment. Thank you for sharing!

    • His plans are SO often not ours! We were supposed to move somewhere else until a few months ago and our whole life has been turned upside down in the past few months. Even now, we can’t see how it is all going to come together. It’s such a faith building journey. Keep asking for just the next step. That’s what I’m TRYING to do! Blessings!!

  • Can I say, I’m so glad it’s you who is going! Not because it’s dirty and hard (though it sounds like it will be) but because you already love this place and these people. What an image of the way God loves this world. Thank you for inviting us into this space with your family. Prayers on this journey ahead!

  • Stephanie Thompson

    Nicole, I have been following your story. As you are aware, my family is also walking into the unknown. Your faith in the midst of uncertainty has resonated with me and inspired me when I find anxiety’s clutches on my heart. How exciting to know that God was preparing you for this opportunity and going ahead of you to open the door. Praying that all unfolds seamlessly as you prepare for this new calling.

    • Wrote this to encourage others to follow their calling and I’ve been so encouraged in the process! What a gift from you guys! Praying you have peace and strength as you walk into the unknown!

  • I upped and moved to Sudan, sight unseen, and got a few strange looks in the process. HAD I actually visited first, I’m not sure I would have chosen to move there. But, oh man, I loved it so deeply, and I could never, ever explain it to people back home. Thrilled for you that you are in a place that resonates with your soul! What a gift!

    • Ha! I know what you mean. Had someone told us a year ago we’d be going to this place we would have said NO, we aren’t. God had to take us the long way around to get us there! xoxo