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5 lessons living abroad has taught me about life

5 lessons living abroad taught me


5 lessons living abroad has taught me about life

Life begins where your comfort zone ends.

5 lessons living abroad has taught me about life

Cliche but true. My comfort zone ended at an airport. Had I never made the plunge to pick Stuart up from the airport five years ago, I wouldn’t be married to the luhv av me lyf. (Love of my life, translated. Bahahaha.) I do not endorse doing what I did though which was picking up a stranger from the airport and taking him home. Definitely not the best idea.

The moment I first stepped off of the plane in England my brain said, YOU’VE STEPPED OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. RETREAT. If I had listened to that voice in my head, I wouldn’t be the person I am now — the person that can acknowledge anxious thoughts and feelings but not let them affect how I live my life.

I’ve grown a lot as a person in the last two years living abroad and it is all thanks to my decision to step outside of my comfort zone. These are a few of the many things I have learned.

Everyone has an opinion. They are entitled to that. But it doesn’t have to affect how you feel or what you do.

People are gon’ have their opinions of you – no matter what. I used to be so self conscious about sharing my blog posts to Facebook and Instagram for all the world — including family and everyone I went to high school with — to see.

I still am to a certain degree. Blogging isn’t the most welcome concept. I say, “I have a blog” and the subject swiftly moves on. I’ve had posts made fun of as well. Add the fact that I write about my faith into the mix and I can see the opinions forming in their eyes. If it didn’t make me feel quite so insecure I would find it comical. But at the end of the day, it is what it is and they think what they think. *stroppy teenage voice* I am who I am, Mom! Stop trying to change me! GOSH.

The thing is – if you allow how you feel about what others think of you to dictate what you do or don’t do, you will end your day feeling unsatisfied. How sad it would be if I thought to myself because they think it is weird, I don’t think I should write anymore… Let your light shine, girl.


Gratitude brings joy.

The more I practice gratitude – and yes, it is something to be practiced for sure – the more I realize how truly blessed I am. I feel the Lord’s joy bloom in my heart as a result. It is the only way I can really describe it. Joy just pours from a grateful heart.

Some days I look at my husband and think, Wow. The Lord knew what I needed – who I needed – before I knew I needed him. I look at him and suddenly realize that this smart, funny, kind, and handsome man is mine forever and ever. Muahahaha. But for real, how did I get so lucky? I’m so much more joyful when I take stock of how much I truly do have to be grateful for.

“Rolling with the punches” should be on your list of life mottos.

That’s our tip jar,” the barista said sharply, with a look that could turn a dead body over in its grave.

My hand, dipping into the coffee mug full of change on the counter of the Cafe Nero for a ten pence coin (the equivalent of a dime in the States) immediately retreated back into the sleeve of my jacket. “Oh — I’m so sorry!” I half shouted, half wheezed.

The blood in my cheeks actually burned. I genuinely started sweating from the stress of this very public moment.

You know those moments in life where you are reevaluating everything you’ve ever done or ever will do in the matter of a second? Yeah, that was my first experience with a moment like that. They say your whole life flashes before your eyes the moment before you die. I did not expect to have that moment in a Cafe Nero over a ten pence coin.

I looked behind me to the line of people waiting to be served — hoping to exchange a sheepish look and get a chuckle out of someone. All three of them turned from my oncoming gaze and into the screens of their phones in their hands. I should’ve known, I remember thinking, these are British people we are talking about. Witnessing someone embarrass their self is as good as embarrassing themselves.

I looked back to the barista, taking the coffee of of the counter and cradling it to myself to nurse my newly bruised ego. I laughed awkwardly again, handing her my card instead as I still did not have enough change. She smiled, thankfully being understanding. She stamped my loyalty card and moved onto the next person.

How was I supposed to know that wasn’t a spare change jar?! That was the day I learned that spare change jars do not exist in the UK. That was also the day I began overthinking about how many tips I had unknowingly stolen from baristas and bartenders right in front of their faces.

Life is one big punch in the dark and I have a thousand embarrassing moments to prove it. We well and truly never know what we’re doing — and even when we do, shit happens. Roll with the punches. Brush it off and laugh. Heaven knows I have had to do that plenty of times.

The Lord has a purpose for our lives.

You don’t know how long I have longed for a purpose. The moment I said goodbye to my bachelor’s degree was the moment I began to doubt who I was. What I wanted. Where I was going. What I was doing with my day to day life and what that would mean for my future. It genuinely impacted my self esteem and took me awhile to recover from the blow of not living up to my own expectations for myself. I know I am not the only one that feels this way and that is why I so adamantly preach that what you do in this life does not define who you are. Jesus defines who you are. 

The Lord laid the foundations for your life long before you ever even thought about what you wanted out of this life. He knit you together in your mother’s womb; he gave you your sense of humor, your love and heart for others, your gift of writing, wisdom, speaking — all of those are blessings from the living God. Therefore, why should we be anxious about our path? Trust in the Lord and He will point you in the right direction.

What gifts, spiritual or otherwise, has the Lord blessed you with? What do you feel in your heart you were born to do? You are probably already doing it; if you love to do it, you are born to do it. Remember that. For me, that has always been writing. He blessed me with a writer’s heart.

I’d love to know your thoughts; what have you learned in the last seasons of your life? Leave a comment down below. <3

5 lessons living abroad has taught me about life

About Rachel Chamberlayne

4 thoughts on “5 lessons living abroad has taught me about life

  1. Rachel, you are much wiser than your age at times because some of these life lessons I learned at a much later age than you. Hugs and kisses, Aunt Cindy

  2. There is nothing like living abroad to really push you out of your comfort zone. I got kicked out of a church in Italy in my early 20s because I had a tank top on—I didn’t realize the strict rules for entering a church and my mind was in vacation mode. So embarrassing. Your post made me laugh, brought back memories of my own travels, but it was also a great reminder that we are defined by who we are in Jesus–and not what the world expects of us.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I’m glad it made you chuckle! That sounds awful but I completely understand how you must have felt after the ten pence incident I experienced. And absolutely – I am getting into the habit or proclaiming His truth over my life to battle anxiety. ❤️

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