When I was a kid I knew I would be a missionary. God had placed it on my heart at a young age, and I was willing to go to great lengths to achieve that goal. When I graduated from high school, I was ready to step into ministry and was even willing to go across the world, away from my family and comforts. My heart was open to children in South America, and I had taken many trips there during high school. After high school, I continued to pray that God would provide a way for me to move there.
And then I waited.
In the meantime, I took a job as a teacher’s aide, working with elementary children with emotional disorders. It was a great job, but all the while, I wondered when God was going to send me to do His work.
Five years went by, and the waiting only got harder. I became so discouraged and discontent. I was weary of waiting on God. Has he forgotten the desire of my heart? Why am I still here in Oklahoma?
As I waited, life moved on. I took some missionary training courses. I joined some friends who were planting a church for people on the margins of society. Eventually, I met the man I wanted to marry. We started our married life with a move into a low-income apartment complex and launched a Bible study for children. (Yes, in Oklahoma.) All of it was good, but none of it was what I had imagined for myself.
But, three years later, the Bible study includes a handful of middle school girls, some with emotional problems, all with family instability, and a few who are beginning to make choices to know the God of the universe. They are helping me know God in deeper ways, too. This community, with all its messiness, is a reflection of the brokenness in my own heart. And I got here “by accident.” I got here while waiting for my “real” life to start.
As I look back on things, I see how faithful and gentle God was to allow me to grow here in Oklahoma. I was able to grow alongside a community of people who rely on me, even as I rely heavily on them. I know all those trips to South America shaped my heart to share God’s truth with others, but it turns out my place was here.
I can’t imagine living anywhere else.