God misled me.
And He lost my trust.
Starting at age 16, I knew I was created to be a missionary. Once, on a flight with violent turbulence, I actually thought, God won’t let this plane go down, because He needs me to do His work.
It sounds so arrogant now, but at the time it felt incredibly faith-filled.
Twenty years have passed since my original calling and not only am I not living in a hut leading people to Jesus, I just test drove my first minivan. I’m “just” a regular old stay-at-home mom with a dishwasher and attached garage.
From 2005 to 2010, I lived in northwest China, intending to be there forever – even if it meant being single. But God’s narrative looked much different from what I had planned for myself. He had me fall in love with an actor in Chicago who, while open to God’s leading, was not “called to missions.” But this man was God’s pick for me. And it was time to go home.
If you’ve ever lived abroad, then you know your insides feel about like the innards of a baseball as you try and untangle your values, identity and worth as you readapt to a culture that should feel like home, but doesn’t. Now referred to as re-entry, it is synonymous with an astronaut re-entering Earth after adapting to space.
Imagine Alice returning from the Looking Glass or Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy stepping back out of the wardrobe or Dorothy returning from Oz and you have a bit of a picture of how you might feel after adapting to another culture.
But add falling in love with that country, culture and people, and you have another layer to step through.
And it broke me. Shattered-dreams broken. Body-wracking sobs broken. Have you ever found yourself on one trajectory you believed with all your heart was God’s will only to find you were dead wrong? It’s humbling to discover that not only can you not read God’s mind, but you are not God.
So through the past six years of re-entry, getting married and quickly having children, I have been hovering under the healing umbrella. I’ve been fighting to see my way in the misty weather all around me that used to seem so sunny and clear.
God has had to do a lot of reminding me about who He is:
That He’s loving and good.
That He is in control.
That He is not purposely being elusive.
And about His feelings towards me:
That I am not “less than” because I am “ordinary.”
That I am called to intimacy with Him first.
That I am enough.
Through these years of confusion, there is only one place where I feel stable and secure. Only one place where I feel at rest and at home. It is clinging to Him as a drowning cat clings to a rock in the storm.
God-willing, life is long and full of multiple chapters. I am learning to allow change to happen and not try and stay in a chapter longer than God intended. I know now God did not mislead me, but He took me to China for a finite amount of time until He led me away and into marriage with an incredible man. China and “my calling” had become a bit of an idol for me and God in His grace wanted to pry away my grip.
And He has given me joy in all that never would have been had I stubbornly clung to my own vision for my life. Two tow-headed babies with magical laughs. A husband who is my best friend. And new and unexpected ways to use my love of other cultures.
God likes to keep us guessing. He wants us straining to hear His voice in the moment and not just ride on what He’s told us in the past. He wants us listening. And He feeds our souls in ways that prove that He is always trustworthy, even when we are standing with our umbrellas, waiting to see our way.God misled me. And He lost my trust. This is my story of finding it again.Click To Tweet
Leslie Verner is a goer who is learning how to stay. A wife, mama of two, former teacher, student of cultures, runner, extrovert (with introvert tendencies) and lover of Jesus. She has her BA in elementary education and MA in intercultural studies. She has traveled all over the world and lived in northwest China for five years before God u-turned her life and brought her back to the US to get married. She blogs regularly about faith, family and cross-cultural issues at www.scrapingraisins.blogspot.com and recently completed the series 31 Days of Re-Entry. Follow her on Twitter at Scraping Raisins@leslie_verner and on Facebook as Leslie Verner.
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