Photo courtesy of Jamie Marie Photography
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be either a mommy or a missionary–or both. I dreamed of the day I could finally travel to Third World countries to work with the orphans, the lepers, the displaced and hungry. An African hut sounded great–bring on the adventure!
As the years passed I set foot in Morocco, China, and Syria. I planned to learn Arabic, buy my food fresh in the market everyday and wear the salwar I bought in a Chicago Pakistani neighborhood. My lifelong yearning to see Israel came to fruition last year. Yet with the fulfillment of one dream came the final death of another.
One thing I neglected to mention above about my time in Morocco, China, and the Middle East was how sick I became. Every trip started well. Sometime in the first third of the visit I would begin to get sick. In every case I became so miserably ill that I could barely sleep or eat–I just wanted to go home…or die. Some of my most vivid memories of all those countries revolve around the sleepless nights spent on the floor of the bathroom. Or counting the minutes until the bus would stop and I could lie down.
Long before Israel Dad had gently broached the idea that I might not be strong enough for the kind of rigorous life I desired. But stubbornness is an inherited trait. I can do it! Let me try. Not until the third day of our trip to Israel, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee did I finally give in and understand. I can’t do this. And I was devastated.
There I was, in the place I wanted to be more than anywhere else on earth–with the people I most wanted to be with–exploring ancient ruins and digs, climbing mountains and visiting kibbutzim and I could barely eat or walk. Why, God? Why can’t I do it? I’m trying so hard.
Sometime during that trip–probably the same morning I was sitting in the hotel chair at 3 am trying to eat crackers while counting how many days I had to survive before going home–I gave up. And a burden rolled off my shoulders I had not realized was even present.
My dad taught me that I am not less of a person because I am fragile. “Use the gifts and talents God has given you,” he says. I clearly do not have the gifts of an iron stomach and stalwart immune system. I do possess a love of the written word and burden to encourage and “love on” young ladies. My heartbeat is for ministry–which can even be done cross-culturally without leaving the Midwest thanks to our new global society. I could stop trying to force myself to be something other than what God made me to be.
Recently a friend posed a profound question. “Does God give us dreams and desires only to tell us no? Are they tests? Or am I not enough in tune with God if I am feeling this disappointment?”
Perhaps my part in the Body is not as adventurous or physical or even noticeable. I did not choose my part–God did. Believe me, my choice of dreams, thorns, and experiences would have been far different. Praise God that He is sovereign and we are under the shadow of His wings.