Many of us have spent countless hours contemplating and planning our future. I have even known someone that has gone as far as typing out a detailed timeline of events—self-determined deadlines for marriage, children, career change, etc. Now I have been known to be borderline Type A, but I just can’t imagine my life revolving around such time restraints, human-generated time limits at that.
My view of this topic has not always been what it is now. If someone would have asked me ten years ago where I expected my life to be when I turned 30…there is not a chance under heaven that I would have said, “Oh, you know, living somewhere in Africa; mentoring eleven deaf children; leading Sunday School at a church that barely speaks English.” And I probably would not have said anything about having to deal with the effects of child neglect, witnessing widespread poverty, or facing uncharted territory in the area of international cultural barriers. And I would definitely not have said, “Oh, by the way, let me quit my $50k interpreting career for all of this.”
Ten years ago I was a ‘typical’ 20-year-old girl. I enjoyed hanging out with friends, catching movies on the weekends, and I was not the slight bit interested in all that “God stuff.” Growing up in 20th century America, I had fallen victim to the “American Dream” propaganda that plagues the minds of citizens across the nation. The only way to live a fulfilling life, I thought, was to accomplish the checklist of requirements that had been handed to me from society. So, I was pursing the college degree and I imagined that in the few years to follow, I would settle in a nice house located in a quiet suburb somewhere in the Tennessee/Kentucky area—not so cold, and not so far from home. At some point, I was hoping to marry and begin a family. You know, accomplishing the things I was ‘supposed’ to accomplish.
Well, besides the college degree, NONE of that has happened.
But before you (or I) get discouraged, let’s reexamine where life has brought me in the last 10 years (the CliffsNotes version):
· I began a degree in radiology…and finished seven years later with a degree in Sign Language Interpreting.
· On my way to acquiring my degree, I moved to Indiana, attended a Christian college and found Jesus.
· At the end of my college career, I took an internship with a company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Upon graduation, this same company hired me in their Raleigh office.
· There, I got connected to an amazing church—one that believes in and lives out the Gospel; one that helps people follow Jesus; one that partners with friends in Uganda.
· In July, 2012 I joined Journey Church on a mission trip to Jinja, Uganda. God used that trip to capture my heart for a population of people desperate for His love.
· After much prayer and extensive planning, I moved to Uganda on February 16, 2014.
And that is where I find myself today—thousands of miles from home (approximately 7585 miles, in case you were wondering) and light years away from where I thought my life was going to take me.
I mentioned above that I would never have envisioned the struggles that I face living in Uganda. But now is a good time to add that I also did not envision the peace, contentment, and joy that He has given to me either. I am thankful that my life didn’t turn out the way I had planned. Had my plans come to pass, I would be missing out on so much. Like watching my babies begin to discover themselves through the eyes of God. And watching them transform physically and emotionally as their newly-found language begins to open doors for them in school, at home, and in the community. Had God chosen not to intervene, I would have missed out on an amazing extended family—Aunties and Uncles at church that encourage myself and many others to run this race with perseverance; brothers that make me laugh til my tummy hurts because the joy of the Lord overflows abundantly from their hearts; sisters that genuinely love Jesus and have allowed Him to consume their lives for the sake of knowing Him more. If my life was left up to me, I would have missed the opportunity to experience God on another level. I would not be seeking his heart the way I am now, nor would I be able to discern his hand at work in my life. Many years ago I had decided that I only wanted to have two children but, instead, God has given me dozens of them. I look forward to seeing their glowing smiles each day and hearing them giggle as we share Bible stories and play red-light-green-light and the ‘stick game’. Without this life-altering detour I would have missed the daily molding and sculpting that God is working in my heart to make me the woman He wants me to me. I would be missing out on this incredible journey and also missing out on the call He has for me.
I know for sure that living in Uganda is not the fulfillment of my own dreams—if that were the case, every day would be a fairytale. There would be less tears and fewer frustrations because I would be doing exactly what I wanted to do.
No, this was not my dream. This is and always has been His dream. But somewhere along the way His dream and His will has become the desire of my heart. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be where I am now…but now that He has brought me here, I cannot imagine my life anywhere else. And in another ten years, who knows where I will be? Only He knows and I pray that even then, my life will continue to be lived in obedience as a reflection of Him.