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This article is from Issue 62: March/April 2013


What to do when you want to be anywhere but here

It starts as the tiniest pull in your heart. You try to ignore it, but the feeling sticks: Something’s not quite right. You find yourself restless. Things you used to enjoy have lost their shine. You spend your lunch break Googling the Peace Corps. And TED talks. And how to become a vegan. The whisper becomes a shout and you enter full-blown panic: I must be made for more than this!

Call it spring fever. Call it wanderlust. Or should you call it God?

How do you know when that restless feeling stems from a spirit of discontent or adventure? How can you tell if the itch in your heart is a passing phase or a sign from God to get on the move? What do you do when the thought that “there must be more than this” just won’t go away?

Jessica and Andrew, newly married, say they struggle with this question. “Should we stay in the 9-to-5 or quit our jobs and travel the world with savings?” they ask. “We’re only young once ... ”

Ben, who has been dating his girlfriend for nine months, thinks she could be “the one” but can’t shake the feeling he’s missing out on an adventure elsewhere.
Julie, on the other hand, hates her job and is ready to quit.

The scenarios may differ, but we all share the same struggle to discern between our heart’s desires and God’s plans. When wanderlust strikes, you need to be able to tell the difference. Here are a few ways to discover what’s really driving your urge to check out and move on.

Take Stock

Rather than over-spiritualizing and agonizing over your options, the answer can be as simple as taking stock of your circumstances. God’s call will rarely stand in stark contrast to
common sense.

Perhaps you feel called into ministry but are under the strain of school and credit-card debt. Maybe your job is horrible and grad school sounds appealing, but you don’t have a strong sense of what to study or what you’d do after that. If you have a burning passion to lead a cause in the nonprofit world, blowing $200 on a PlayStation for your parents’ basement (that you live in) probably isn’t the next logical step. The outward factors of your life can serve as telling indicators for what you should do.

Taking stock, then, means getting your life in order so you can respond and move toward your dreams. These aren’t glamorous steps, but they are foundational. When we’re faithful in the little things, the big things usually follow.

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