I would live like the people and tell them of Christ.
When I was in middle school my best friend and I mapped out a course over the continent to reach all of the major areas in Africa during what we estimated would be our lifetime. (Go ahead, chuckle, I was in 8th grade.) The dream lived on and when I graduated from high school, I spent a summer in Tanzania. When I went to college, I began as a Linguistics major in order to begin learning how to do Bible translation. After a couple of years I realized that I have a really short attention span and am not really cut our for sitting still for hours on end to do translation work. I switched my major to Biblical Languages, but the goal was still misssions and Africa.
I wanted to reach the unreached. I prayed about working with Muslims in northern Africa and prayed about working in the more remote, animistic tribal areas. There was no stopping me...
Well, here I am, 5 years after graduating from a Bible school with the intention of doing full time ministry and what am I?
A stay at home mommy!
To tell the truth, sometimes it makes me cringe. My pride gets in the way and I get embarrassed. I didn't hide the fact from ANYONE that I fully intended to be living overseas for the better part of my adult life. I can feel the blood rush to my face when I talk with someone who knew those intentions full well and then asks what I'm up to these days. I look at my amazing girlfriends from college and see how God is using them in ministry and I start to question if I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I don't feel like I'm doing anything too impressive for God.
And therein lies the problem.
My desire to be involved in Christian ministry over the years has not been wrong, but I do believe on some levels it was rooted in a desire to earn God's love and impress him. I'm a one extreme or another kind of person and so my natural tendency when I began to live my life for the Lord was to do the biggest, best thing I thought a woman could do for the Lord and I was convinced that was becoming a missionary. Surely if I were a missionary God would love me because you HAVE to be a good Christian to be a missionary. They're "super-Christians" and I wanted to be one of them.
When I became less Africa-focused and more as-God-leads focused I began to think that perhaps children's ministry whether in the inner-city or the local church might be a good fit if I didn't end up overseas. I did just that for a while in college and for a couple of years after Matt and I moved back to Springfield. Then we began talking family and the possibility of me staying home.
At first I panicked. What would people think? What would GOD think?
I had never been too keen on the idea of staying home with kids and was not sure that changing dirty diapers would fulfill my need to do something over-the-top and absolutely amazing for God. I knew he would not be impressed with my ability to juggle two children while cooking dinner, but (insert sarcasm) he would have been floored by my ability to touch the hearts of unreached people in the bush. That would have blown him away, I'm sure!
My fear had been that in doing the mundane, I would be a lesser Christian.
So, what's a girl to do?
I'm going to be at home for the foreseeable future depending on how many children we have. I'm just an "normal" person. (Okay, I suppose that depends on who you ask.) We make enough money to have a home and nice vehicles but not so much that we don't have to pinch and go without the extras sometimes. My boys are both healthy and happy. I like my family (even my in-laws! :)). I have a wonderful marriage with a godly husband. All I need is the white picket fence and I'm set.
This is NOT what I imagined for myself.
Where's the adventure? Where's the amazing testimony? Where's the stuff that will really impress God?
I've been coming to a place of peace for a while, but even more so in the past few months. Instead of half-heartedly parenting my kids all the while looking for some great ministry to be involved in, I've been trying to focus on the task that the Lord has put before me. Showing my family and those I come in contact with the love of Christ and praying that he will use me in their lives.
Do I still hope that I can be involved in "official" ministry? Sure. Will I ever end up doing it as my vocation? Who knows. Will I board the first plane to Africa when I "retire"? Maybe. Here's to hoping!
But for now, I need to quit mourning the adventures I'm missing abroad when I've got a whole realm of God-honoring adventures awaiting me within these four walls. Lord, grant me the grace to keep this perspective!
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