Ever since high school, I’ve had this desire to be a missionary. Somewhere along the line, I went on a short-term cross-cultural mission trip and got “hooked on missions” and have been ruined ever since. I’ve done everything I could think of to “become” a missionary. I went to a Christian college and took all the missions classes offered while getting a degree in something practical (nursing) so I would have marketable skills if God called me to a creative-access country. I went on multiple short-term trips to see if there was a specific place I felt like God was leading me. I signed up for an eleven-month trip to quite a few places because I thought surely God wouldn’t let me go all the way around the world and not bring me back to one of them. I came home from that trip unsure of my next steps, so I settled down, got a real job (which was actually a really good thing - it’s hard to do a lot in the nursing/medical world when you have no experience. and there’s something about obedience), and tried to adjust to “normal American life.”
The problem was, I wasn’t cut out for normal American life.
I wasn’t satisfied with the place God had put me. I had this itch that wasn’t getting scratched and this void that wasn’t being filled.
After a season of obedience to the mundane, I decided it was time. I figured God hadn’t given me this desire for nothing - He had to have something in store for me. So, I quit my job, packed all my stuff back into my car, moved it back across the country to my parents’ house, and headed back overseas for what I thought was “it” - the time I was finally going to be a missionary.
Except it wasn’t quite that smooth or planned out long-term. I signed up for a short-term assignment with an organization as a “test the waters” gig, so I had no long-term commitment. The country I headed to was in political turmoil (my organization actually called me a few days before I was scheduled to leave, unsure if I should even go because of everything that was going on). My three-month commitment turned into only 5 weeks because of aforementioned turmoil, and then faster than I even knew, I was back in the US. I felt like I failed.
So I did what any sane person who wants to be a missionary would do - I found a different country with different people and a different organization and a completely different strategy and planned to move there instead. I signed up for a two-year commitment with a team of 4 other women, and moved to said country less than a year later with three of those women (through various circumstances, one had dropped out of training and preparing before we left). I was living the life I thought I always wanted, the life I felt like God had picked out for me over 10 years before. Guess what, though - it didn’t work. I ended up back in the US after only 6 months. I felt like I failed. Again. I felt like I missed what God was saying to me, like I missed the calling He placed on my life.
I felt like this desire I felt God had given me to “be a missionary” was never going to be met.
But maybe, just maybe, I missed something long before that. Maybe I missed what it meant when He called me to be a “missionary” in the first place. See, I thought He gave me that desire so I could magically transform into this saintly person who lived in some really cool place overseas and help fix people’s problems, and that hadn’t happened.
But maybe what God was calling me to wasn’t so far off from what He’d brought me through; I just needed a perspective shift. Maybe it wasn’t that I heard Him wrong, but that I got my definitions messed up a little.
See, He’s met so many of the desires He’s given me, even if they weren’t quite how I envisioned them.
He met my desire to live and serve overseas (and has provided me with the opportunity to call multiple places home for a month or more).
He met my desire to travel as well as experience new cultures (and try my hand at learning new languages).
He met my desire to mold together my gifts and abilities with serving Him (nursing and loving people well go hand-in-hand in my book).
He met my desire to have a family I can call my own (even if they are of all ages and nationalities and scattered across the whole entire world).
He met my desire to grow in my relationship with Him and my unspoken desire to trust Him more (and honestly, that’s been one of the hardest, because I didn’t think I needed as much growth as He’s provided).
He met my desire to continue to learn about the world and the people that He has placed on my heart by allowing me to enroll in classes and read textbooks while I’m here in the USA (and hopefully someday He’ll allow me the opportunity to take what I’ve learned practically and put it to use experientially, meeting people where they are).
See, it’s not about Him not fulfilling the desires He gave me.
It’s about me realizing that I need to look at my desires through His eyes instead of my own. They’re desires that He has given me, so obviously He has the best perspective on how they’re going to be fulfilled.
And yeah, I don’t have it all figured out yet. I’m still sitting on my nice couch in my nice house in my nice suburb and wondering what in the world I’m doing; and maybe someday I’ll get to understand the process He’s taking me through, but for now, I get to keep working through all those “unmet” desires and see how He’s working.
Bio & Disclaimer:
Becky is a single 20-something who’s not sure if she’ll ever get married or have her own kids (but that’s another “unmet desire” for another day, and God’s working on her heart with that too). She currently works as a school nurse for an inner-city district (which is not all “putting bandaids on boo-boos” - sometimes she has to save lives!), she loves to run and got hooked on distance running about a year ago with her first 25K race (she’s done a full- and half-marathon since and is running another 25K in a couple weeks), and she likes to travel to anywhere on a plane, train, bus, or hiking trail can get her. Oh, and she loves Jesus with all her heart and has been on a crazy journey of trust with Him for as long as she can remember.
Also, she doesn’t really like the “m-word” and tries not to use it when talking about herself. See, she’s still pretty sure she’s going to end up in one of those creative-access places where that word isn’t allowed, and that just wouldn’t go over well. So please don’t link this to her blog or facebook page. Just be careful with how you share it, okay?