The Small Moments that Matter

This is one of those, "things I wish I knew" blogs. It's going to be laced with nostalgia and life long lessons and Jesus. Let's do this. 

When I was in high school, I didn't think that what I did mattered that much. I knew that the season was quick and I believed all parts of it, in and out of school, were fleeting. I didn't allow myself to believe that much of what I did mattered, from the classes I was in to the books that I read or the trips I went on. I thought it would all fade away when I received my diploma-- that none of it would have a lasting impression on my "real life" I so boldly thought I'd be walking into when I came to college. 

Friends, I was wrong.
Today, I'm going to explain why. 

(Important note: I'm not talking about decisions I made socially. The friends you hangout with and the decisions you make with them can (more likely than not) have an impact on your future. Make good decisions and stuff.)

When I was seventeen, I did what every youth-group-kid does-- I hopped on a plane with fifteen friends and a youth pastor and went to a foreign country. This was my first time out of the country, and by no accident, I went to South America to visit the country of Ecuador. 

I'm not going to go into the story of my first mission trip, but as to be expected, it changed my life. I saw poverty I didn't know existed, I ate weird foods, and I gave my heart away to little kids I only knew for a few days. I got to hike in the Amazon Rainforest and stand on the equator and I ate the best pizza I've ever had. It was a trip to remember, but that didn't mean I soaked up every minute of it.

As a seventeen-year-old, I lumped my time in Ecuador in with every other temporary part of high school and let my ten days pass without a second thought. I enjoyed them, I took a lot of pictures, and walked away changed, but I didn't even consider the trip having a lasting impact on my life. 

Say hello to 17 year old Ashton. Behind all that eyeliner is the joy of culture shock.

Say hello to 17 year old Ashton. Behind all that eyeliner is the joy of culture shock.

So, you can understand that when I felt the Father whisper to my heart, "Learn to speak Spanish." I didn't think much about it. I thought that it was a temporary dream, my heart being sensitive to the idea of language barriers, but I believed the desire would fade away as time went on. After all, I can't even roll my tongue. 

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now.”
— Eckhart Tolle

Flash forward to MC orientation a year later. I'm registering for classes and I learned that with my degree, I have to take 12 hours (four classes) of a foreign language. In that moment, the whisper instructing me to learn Spanish felt more like a scream. Have you ever been so certain that you are supposed to do something that you can fathom the thought of not doing it? That's what it felt like on that June day three years ago. It was in that moment that I knew that my time in Ecuador mattered a lot more than I thought it did, but it didn't stop there.

I'm not going to go into detail with every way that trip matters in my life now, but here are a few examples: 

  • I am now a Spanish minor. 
  • Because of the love the Father fostered in my heart for Hispanic countries, I spent two months in Guatemala in 2014. And returned to Guatemala for ten days in 2015.
  • I am going to Spain this summer to further along my Spanish education. I'm determined to communicate in this language.
  • I am getting certified to teach English as a second language. 

Obviously, my trip to Ecuador still matters four years later. Obviously, what is happening in your life while you're in high school can have a lasting impact. I wholeheartedly regret not being fully present during my trip to Ecuador. That regret has taught me to challenge myself when being I feel my heart and mind drifting from the present. 

So friends, be present. Seek the Lord, asking Him to make known the things that are lasting. God uses the everyday moments to point us to big things. You never know how much a moments can matter in the long run. Your present is what is founding your future. Life matters. Pay attention to what's going on and don't let life just happen to you. Lean into the whispers-- they could turn into your passion. 

Paz,

Ashton
Spanish student, (wanna be) world traveler, & constant learner