There have been several pivotal moments in my life where I was unexpectedly invited into some crazy adventure. I felt a divine tapping on my shoulder to try something or go in a direction that I hadn’t anticipated or prepared for. Saying yes to those invitations was always hard – and always worth it.
It first happened in a big way when I was in 10th grade. I was homeschooled at the time. I had a heart for missions and for sharing about God’s love, and I knew that I wanted to go into some kind of ministry when I “grew up.” I remember being in my parent’s basement, doing my laundry and praying silently, when all of a sudden I had this flash of a realization. I cannot accurately describe it to you, and I think my words could tangle the message somewhat… but basically, I suddenly knew that I was supposed to go to my local public school for the remaining two years of high school.
The problem with this invitation was that I loved being homeschooled. I loved the flexibility, my friends, my family, oh – and the flexibility. And even though our local high school was huge, I didn’t know a single person who went there. Those kids – and public school culture in general – were complete strangers to me.
But I accepted the invitation.
I cried… a lot… during those first few months. I had awkward experiences trying to find a table to sit at during lunch. I witnessed a bloody fistfight right in front of my locker. I got lost between classes and said embarrassing things and heard words that I had never heard before. I felt like an animal being herded through a zoo, between the metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs and police roaming the halls.
After a while I made friends and learned my way around those halls. It ended up not being quite as bad as I thought it was when I started. And then it was over!
And six years later, God dropped another invitation in my lap – this time one that made lots more sense. It was an invitation to start a mentoring program for teen moms in the public high school that I had graduated from. I was already familiar with the administrators, the smell of the hallways, and the noise level. The kids looked exactly the same as they had six years before – and I felt like I already knew them. Funny that God knew what He was doing when He called me there in the first place… He already knew He would bring me in a full circle.
Then came the next invitation, and this one made even less sense than the first one – this time it was to leave the teen mom ministry (YoungLives) that had become my baby, and move halfway across the country so that my husband could attend seminary. There was no way that God knew what He was doing when He sent this invitation – it must have been addressed solely to my husband, and He just forgot that I was married to him!
I was convinced that we should turn it down and continue with my planned life. We were living in a great house, a mile from my parents, had a one-year old daughter, and were both working full-time in great jobs. The problem was, my husband couldn’t picture himself doing accounting for the rest of his life and feeling satisfied. He felt called to ministry.
So guess what? We said yes. And again, I cried. A lot. I’m not normally this emotional… it’s just that when you are a bit of a control freak and then your whole plan gets ripped to shreds, you get a little… confused. Overwhelmed. Angry. Sad.
I couldn’t imagine ever feeling like that seminary apartment housing would feel like home – or like I would ever be happy to return to it after going home for a break.
But the funny thing it, God seemed to know what He was doing once again. You would think I would catch on to this pattern, but I’m a little hard-headed.
We began to experience some of the coolest sense of community and depth of friendships that I have ever felt. We bonded with our fellow seminarians, cared for each others’ kids, prayed for each other, worked out together, had meals together, and basically experienced the best of college life without all of the “What am I going to do with my life??” and “Who am I going to marry??” and “Who AM I??” insecurities that you generally experience during your college years. Not everything was perfect and always hunky-dory, of course – after all, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny salary and plenty of stress – but we were well-cared for.
And I also got another enormous blessing. Remember that ministry, YoungLives, that I had to leave behind? Well, I got hired back in a long-distance advisory role. I still got to do what I loved, with the people I loved, for the mission I loved – and get paid to do it.
I am documenting all of these invitations because I need to remember – and I need you to remind me – that God always knows what He is doing when He sends them. Even if they seem scary and strange and out of line with my plans.
I need to hold on to these past invitations…
Because we just got another big one.