The first month as a Raleigh Fellow has already flown by and I find myself asking the inevitable question. Why am I here? In order to answer I think about why I believe in God. I could never truly explain to someone how I knew. I’ve thought about it so many times. I have tried to compose answers that sound eloquent and right, but every time it feels fake. Why do you believe? Why do you spend so much of your time pondering your existence? Why do you claim that God exists? I used to want to answer that by saying well what if you didn’t. Imagine if you went your whole life and never believed in God or never even gave it a real shot, and it turned out to be true. If you hadn’t believed you would lose everything. On the flip side, if you spent your whole life believing it was true and in the end it wasn’t you really wouldn’t lose much. But if it was you would gain the world. I loved that answer, until I realized that it missed the point completely. It is a selfish answer. It is all about me and what I would gain. Once you realize what Christianity is really about, you understand that to miss it and never understand the beauty of the gospel, not only would you lose everything but it would affect more people than just you. Yes, maybe that answer isn’t really that much better but there is something about never being able to have the perfect answer that makes it appealing. I can never understand God fully, and that is something that I have come to realize even more in my first month here.

 I have seen through the stories of the other fellows the vast ways in which God calls his children home. I have seen the way God reminds us of his love, as I have been blessed with a host family who has opened their home to me for no other reason than to serve Him. And I have seen God’s beauty radiate through a church that preaches his word each Sunday. It would be nice to say that my first month here has answered many questions that I have, but honestly it seems to have created even more. Each day I discover the glorious riches of his mystery. Just thinking about the fact that I get to learn something else about God every day that I am on this earth makes me pause. Every time I feel my heart leap and loneliness pulse through my veins I yearn to know God more. There are a million questions I could ask and at some point I will never have the perfect answer. I’ve always felt a pull inside of me, I feel it even more when I draw near to God, and I think it is just an indication that I wasn’t made for this world. There are many times in my life when I worry that I wasn’t supposed to be here. I have moments where I truly feel that I was made for something else and somewhere else. Loneliness dances through my veins and it’s only a matter of time before I feel the homesickness set in. There are seasons where is isn’t as hard, and I think that this is right, but then there are others that make me question everything. I hate how easily my mind pushes God out of the picture. I forget what he has done for me in the past, and I forget that he is truly my only hope. He purposefully made me. It wasn’t some accident or cosmic explosion that lead to me being here. He ordained this very moment in my life. He made me and said I was his. God knows the loneliness and longings of my heart. He knows every single thing about me. And because he knows me fully he knows how to care for me. Even though I am still wondering what my purpose is and what will happen in these next eight months, I know one reason why I am here. To discover the mystery and share it with others. Every day I learn how to do that more and more.

Mariah W.