Just last week our Fall 2018 DTS returned from outreach, and last night the students graduated! This week of debrief is always one filled with emotion and a bittersweet spirit– saying goodbye to the end of a beautiful season, and stepping into an unknown one– one that could be scary, but exciting. Re-entry has its ups and downs, but I have learned through experience that preparing yourself to return home is important. If you are in a transition season in your life, I hope this encourages you. Whether you are returning home from outreach or not, these truths apply to you! In honor of our wonderful DTS students going on to their next God-given steps, here is a list of 6 things that I would have told myself before returning home after outreach.
1. Life will look different.
It is true that there will be a lot of adjusting. This might be the first time that you have your own room or drive your own car. You will be around people who do not necessarily understand the 5 month life transformation you have been on or the outreach lingo you picked up, but there will be people with fresh ears who ask you a lot of questions.
2. No plan is an okay plan.
Don’t feel like you have to rush into anything. People will ask you “what’s next?” and if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know. Always wait on the Lord. You don’t need to make something happen or prove anything to anyone. The Lord will honor your patience and persistence in listening to his voice.
3. You can grow just as much at home as you did in DTS.
No, it isn’t going to look the same as lecture phase or outreach, but the faithfulness of God is the same regardless. You spiritual growth is not dependent on others spoon-feeding you anymore. You have spent the last five months being discipled and poured into, and you’re going home with a fiery faith not dependent on your environment. Jesus is just as present even when you are by yourself. Let your Father fill you up every day!
4. Keep your quiet times!
You may be tempted with the new freedom of no longer having to get up early to have a quiet time with Jesus, but it is so important. It doesn’t matter what time you choose to spend seeking God, but it does matter that you daily seek Him. It is easy to get out of the routine, but trust me— it is one of the best things you can do for gaining (and not losing) intimacy with God.
5. God can transform your community.
When I finished outreach and was preparing to go home, I was fearful of stepping back into the broken environment that I left 5 months prior. What I found was that God was actually working in my friends and family while I was gone. Yes, you are leaving a community of people who love you and care for you and build you up in Christ, so I encourage you to surround yourself with people like this at home. If there isn’t a community environment, make one. Host worship nights, get groups together, do Bible studies– Let all that God did over the last 5 months can invade your life wherever you go!
6. It will be hard sometimes, and that’s okay.
It isn’t going to be easy. Over 5 months you make some of your best friends. You get used to community and a way of life that you don’t see often. Your goodbyes will be tear filled, and there will be times that you miss this season. Just remember that just like there is pain in every transition, there is beauty as well.
Re-entry isn’t for the fain of heart, but remember that you are equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in confidence and boldness into your next season, no matter what it is!
I pray for my brothers and sisters stepping into a transition season right now, that through the unknown, your presence would be so evident to them. I pray that they would be reminded of your faithfulness and goodness, and the truth that who you have been throughout the last season is who you will always be. Thank you for being a constant and loving Father who will carry us through whatever comes our way. No matter what season they step into, remind them that you are there, and you are always with them. Thank you, God, for the amazing plans you have for their next season of life! In the name of Jesus I ask these things.
“Though the seasons change, your love remains.” -United Pursuit