That’s what I’ve always wanted, a white-picket fence. A cute little thing protecting my suburban-y home in a neighborhood that had a warming community. I wanted to host weekend barbecues after I got back from teaching my elementary students at school nearby. And spend time with my hopefully christian husband and attending church on Sundays.
That’s why I chose Elementary Education. My mom and dad wanted something different for me for practical reasons, but every time I prayed about changing my major I was convicted not to. So I didn’t. All I knew is that I cared a lot about people and their well-being and I wanted to show them the love that I had because of what Jesus did in me. I don’t know if I was even totally convinced myself that I wanted to be a teacher. Throughout my first semester of college I looked into different careers that included those very broad characteristics, but didn’t come up with anything I felt comfortable changing my major to. Then the summer after my freshman year I spent the summer at Florida through a university organization and learned how to dive deeper into God’s word, how to live out what I was learning, learn how to actually share God’s love with people-which is by sharing HIM with them and how He changed my life. I always thought there was something lacking in my walk with Christ, and I finally had found it! There was nothing as amazing as obeying God when he would lead me to talk to someone about Him. But I think the coolest part of my summer was working a job in Panama City that also offered positions to many foreigners who were either traveling abroad or in desperate need of a job. I met people from Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Mexico, India, and the Czech Republic. The friendships I made from this job were so special to me, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that pieces of my heart didn’t make it back to Oklahoma come July. Between the friendships I made at work and the people at my camp, it’s easy to say it was the best summer of my life.
I returned back to school in the fall as close in my walk with the Lord than I ever have been. During class, I would daydream about where I was going to live post-college. I started creating this ideal house with the kind of decor I wanted. What was my elementary class going to be like? How would I teach it? How could I teach about Jesus? I had a bunch of ideas. I thought about what kind of car I could get after selling my jeep. Would I have a husband by then? Everything seemed ideal, but I couldn’t shake the small doubt that this dream somehow still felt somewhat empty.
A couple of months later, that dream was shattered the night I put on a black dress to attend my friend’s funeral. Unexpected and so sudden, it was hard mourning the loss of someone I had memories with since childhood. I spent weeks grieving, and although I felt so broken, God was working in my heart in a way I hadn’t experienced before. He created this hole in my heart that nothing besides doing ministry and international missions would satisfy. I crave an intimacy so deep with Jesus and people that I would be so discontent in the life that I dreamed of for so long. Don’t think God can change the desires of your heart? Think again.
Typing this makes me laugh because of how much joy I thought sharing a nice house with a husband and being a teacher would bring me; like once I had those things it would “complete” my life. Or I would have FINALLY found that missing link I was looking for. The world and “current” Christians told me it’s “normal” to not be content with just Christ. It’s “normal” to still want other things, and that my “Prince Charming” would come someday, because “God has the perfect one for me”. And I even felt entitled to these things. But the more time I started spending in the Bible, the more I realized that Jesus never promised me these things. He never promised me a nice house, a job as a teacher, or that I would even have a husband (and boy was that a tough pill to swallow). It says many great things about marriage in the Bible and how a couple should glorify Christ, and how single people can glorify Christ as well. But never did it once say “and woman, when you finally find the betrothed I’ve promised you since day one blah blah blah”. Never promised, and it’s refreshing. Owning a nice house isn’t bad. Living in a pretty neighborhood isn’t bad. Having a spouse isn’t bad, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m asking you to think again.
What I’m asking is if you understand that we have a living GOD that created us for a time like this? Earth has been here for over 2000 years. Different centuries bring different social problems, social classes, struggles, epidemics, laws, and advances in science. Nothing God does is random. So why would he plop us here “just because”. There are thousands of different years you and I could have been born in, but He put you and me here, today, February 23, 2015. Where were you born? It could have been anywhere, any continent. Who’s your family? I wonder if God put us here because he made us specifically for this time. Jesus formed us intricately according to how he wanted us (Psalm 139). We are wonderfully made by the same Being who created the stars you gaze at at night, the mountains you like to ski on, and the water so blue you can see your reflection. You are specially created.
If you lay down your cross (i.e., your reputation, sin, entitlement, selfishness, time) to follow Christ WHOLE-HEARTEDLY, He will use you and give you dreams so big you’ll think it’s impossible. Do you really think that Jesus died on the cross for you to live a plain, simple, and comfortable life by only following Him enough to say you’re a Christian but not enough to really let Him change your life? Think again.