Life. People say “life is short”, but really, life is the longest thing you’ll ever do. In the midst of life, what is a year? Sometimes it’s very long and impactful, and sometimes it’s almost forgettable.
For instance, the year 2013 was a huge and impactful one for me. I graduated high school, said “bye” to my closest friends, finished my last year of basketball, started college, picked a major (which later changed), met new best friends, started dating, and got a new job. My second grade year in 2003, however, I basically remember learning long subtraction and that Mrs. DeWitt was my teacher. It was still very important, but I basically went through it with no idea what was going on, and even less concrete ideas of shaping my future.
A year can hold a lot or a little, and it’s totally up to you. We can be so afraid of the future and the unknown that it cripples us into stagnant repetition as the years march on. But, who wants to just let the years pass when there’s so much joy that can come from them?
Coming out of high school, I had no idea where to even start. Did I want to teach or become an engineer? I tried both. I didn’t know! I had so many questions about life and what I was meant to do that I didn’t have the capacity to figure out while in school.
That’s what a gap year is for. A gap year is “a year that you spend traveling, working, etc., before continuing your studies." Universities like Harvard and Princeton now recommend that students take a year off between high school and college to gain independence and a sense of direction.
I did my gap year at YWAM Orlando and don’t regret it. Here are three reasons to take a gap year here, and make it your most unforgettable and impactful year yet:
1. Know God
Whenever I get time to chill out and breathe for a second, I can never seem to remember the thousands of things I thought throughout the day or things I wanted to do or research. I usually end up watching Netflix or just sitting around with friends wasting time. That said, if I forget to Google “how to make the most amazing pour-over coffee," it really won’t have a huge effect on my life. But forgetting or not being interested in taking the time to find out what God is like and how He relates with me… that could have an eternal impact. My gap year with YWAM gave me time to pause and dive into those things. For so long, I had put off many questions I had about God or how to live for Him because I didn’t have time, didn’t know who to talk to, or thought they were dumb questions. When I came to do my DTS (Discipleship Training School), I finally had no other responsibilities except to run after who God is. I got to ask all the hard questions to people who cared, and had teachers every week willing to wrestle with my questions. The time I spent doing that was so special and has changed the way I do life. Now, I get to do life with God, instead of just for God.
2. Travel and Experience Life
Doing life with Jesus is way more fun than doing it any other way. I never thought I would get the opportunity to live the kind of stories you’d want to sit down years later and tell your grandchildren. But I did and still get to. No one ever regrets taking the time to go on wild adventures and travel the world. I don’t know of a better or more noble reason than to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have more crazy God stories from a year of being in YWAM than the rest of my life combined. I went to three new countries and met and prayed for hundreds of people. I learned new words in other languages, ate foods I’d never heard of, and laughed and cried with people with who I never imagined I would have anything in common. My view of life changed from a narrow road of what’s possible to anything being at my fingertips.
3. Get Vision
Because my perspective changed about the world and other people, it naturally changed about myself too. I went into college with the fear of failure so palpable I could almost taste it. After my year of breathtaking adventures, I was a new person with more confidence about who I am and what I was made to do. I don’t know what else equips a person to start their career, family, or life better than taking the time to go and find out who they are and what they believe. I didn’t know my giftings, how far I could be stretched, or what I wanted to do with my life. After my year in YWAM, I can confidently tell anyone what I was made for, how much I can handle, and what my vision is for the future; it’s way more than I ever thought possible before.
Before YWAM, I had a good job, a track for an amazing college degree, a boyfriend, and what seemed like a good life ahead of me. I tried my best to do the “good Christian girl” thing, but it just wasn’t cutting it. I felt so empty and as if I was wandering aimlessly. Later on, I was in Starbucks studying for an exam, and out of nowhere a YWAMer came up to me and asked to pray for me. As she did, I bawled my eyes out as the love of God encountered me in a powerful way. That was it. That was the moment I knew I was ready for something extraordinary and dove into my gap year. That is a year I will never regret, and I don't think you will either!
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Molly E | YWAM Orlando Staff