Something we all need to learn to do better: STRETCH! Image credit: depositphotos

How To STRETCH Beyond Your Home Page & Why You Should

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine

I have a sweet friend in her 40’s who has lived in the same town her entire life. She loves the familiarity and is perhaps the most authentic homemaker I have ever met. She amazes me how she makes her home a unique, special place of refuge for her husband and three sons.

I love this friend. We laugh, we cry and have loads of fun together. But we are as different as can be when it comes to how we define adventure.

For her, adventure is found in a cookbook, in a new recipe, in cheering for one of her sons during a new football or baseball season. It is found in the familiar rhythms of life.

For me, it is a different story.

Adventure is out there!

I find my adventure in a different way. It is in relating with people from other lands, those in my midst and those living a world away. It is in languages other than my own, in foods that delight (and sometimes challenge) my palate with exotic flavors, in traveling and living abroad, and in not being so sure of what to expect.

I like to stretch.

If St. Augustine was correct, my friend loves her home page. She is an expert of that page. And that is all good.

My “homepage” is also warm and welcoming, nourishing for my family and those who enter, but it remains quite basic. I rely on simple meals (always with green veggies) and lots of good stuff from Trader Joe’s! It works for us.

But I yearn to explore that book beyond the home page! I aim to live looking outward, whether through reaching out to the internationals in our neighborhoods, traveling (always more than simply being a tourist), or living abroad.

So my case here is, WHY should that matter to you as well?

True, you can become master of your home page.

But I would suggest that you have so much more you can learn, so much more you can contribute, so much more you can be…if you extend yourself and explore that book!

Explore the book!

Here are 6 reasons why extending yourself outside of your comfort zone — whether through reaching out to those from other cultures in your neighborhood, traveling abroad with purpose, or living in another country for a season (or longer), make sense for you.

We may not all be able to stretch quite like this, but we can give it our best shot! Image credit: Renee Silverman on Flickr.

(1) It challenges you.

It grows you and forces you to rely on others. This can be a good thing. It causes us to push our boundaries and trust that we will find a way through the challenge, through the difficulty. It even grows us up!

(2) It gives you new perspectives on others.

You come to see that not everyone views the world in the same way as you. Nor do they live like you. You become more mindful of stereotypes you may have of others…and the need to scrap those stereotypes as you get to really know people from other cultures. It makes you better understand that there are many ways of living life; yours is not the only one.

(3) It gives you a new perspective on yourself.

Whenever you spend serious time abroad, especially living abroad, you become an observer of your own culture and people. Some of what you see, you like. Some not. This triggers introspection and thoughts about how you might choose to live in ways different from the majority. You come to better understand why you do what you do, think the way you think.

(4) It opens your heart to others.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert (or some of both, which most of us are), there is a place for you to serve, to love, to extend.

Not long ago I was at a large event for international students, one that I’ve either organized or volunteered for dozens of times. I went up and introduced myself to one of the new volunteers. This was her first time doing this. She was standing behind the well-organized drink table.

“You see, I’m an introvert. But I realize that there’s a place for me doing something like this, even if it’s hard. I can do this,” she exclaimed. I responded that I knew she could. And, incidentally, as this was a Christian-sponsored event, I assured her that God was smiling at her heart attitude and service.

Contemplating what’s ahead. Image credit: Free Photos on Pixabay.

(5) It changes you.

As you relate well with people from different backgrounds and cultures from you, in time you recognize a nice benefit. Your mind and heart warm to them and you are more aware of their country in the news, their challenges, their hopes and dreams.

You also become more self-aware; you consider more how others from different cultural backgrounds may interpret your words and actions — or even lack of action.

Of course, you fumble and fail, you apologize and then pick yourself back up. This is the trial-and-error process of most things. But you grow. And change. Same is true when you travel with purpose or live abroad. It’s not a nice, neat trajectory. It can be sloppy. But it can be full of meaning. And joy!

(6) It is fun!

You can really enjoy this extending of yourself, the travel, the time living abroad. I’ve found there is a part of my brain that is at work when I’m traveling or living abroad that seems dormant when I am in my home country. It’s not just language, although that’s a large part. It’s more. I love the stimulation when I’m stretched. And yes, I have fun!

I am so grateful for my friend. She helps me understand my way is not the only way. Still, for me — and perhaps for you reading this post — adventure is out there! Get out and explore!

How about you? How do you stretch beyond your home page? Or do you? If not, why not?

Here are some ideas of how you take steps to stretch beyond your home page. Download our FREE ebook, You can be the Bridge: The CultureWeaver’s Manifesto, today!