If you asked me in August of 2009 where I would be in May of 2013, my answer wouldn’t have been living off-campus and commuting 55 minutes one-way every day to a high school in Sioux City where the students hardly respect their teachers, peers, and education enough to show up for class more than once or twice a week and heaven forbid they turn in their homework as well. In all honesty, had you asked me, I would have responded along these lines: “I just want to be wherever my husband is going to be.” I would have smiled, pointed my finger guns at you, and quickly followed up with a, “Just kidding. I’m not that desperate.” Real talk: I probably was.
I came to Dordt with a very specific 4 year plan: freshman year—take some classes, meet a lot of people, and find my way out of a corn maze and into the arms of Mr. Right by sophomore year. We’d date throughout sophomore year, put our relationship to the test as I went overseas at the end of my junior year, be engaged before senior year so I could use my 12-credit hour semester to do some hardcore wedding planning, and enjoy the single-girl-swag status one last time, and then I’d focus on student teaching before the big “I Do” in late May of 2013. My plans all came crashing down in September of 2011. And out of those crushed plans and desperate attempts to get back on the “right track” rose a much greater plan, a plan that would lead me to a greater love than the one I dreamed up for my 4-year plan.
Perhaps you’ve been a loyal reader and experienced second-hand the challenges and joys I’ve experienced in my time overseas. Perhaps you’re just reading this for the first time and thinking, “This girl is the epitome of senior scramble—writing her column about relationships.” Think what you please, but I’ll tell you this much: had my 4-year plan fallen into place, I probably never would have made it to Europe, never would have done the first session of my student teaching in the Dominican Republic, and most importantly, I wouldn’t have experienced the relationships I was blessed with in my 6 months overseas. The people I met and grew to love as intimately as those from my Reformed communities I call home allowed me to learn things I never would have had I stuck around this joint.
In one of my first columns I mentioned how much of an impact my semester in Europe had on me, as my faith and standards were put to the test in such a tolerant society. A few months ago I wrote about the hurt I saw in the poverty-struck, broken city of Santiago. Had you asked me at either of those moments where I’d be in August, I would say, “Back here,” referring to whichever country I was in. My heart longed to be overseas, reaching out to a population that doesn’t know Christ like I do, that doesn’t see the world like I do.
Well, God changed my plans again, except this time I shut my own doors. I was offered a job in the DR and turned it down. I was sent e-mails from schools in the Netherlands informing me about job opportunities, and I ignored them. Why? Last week, I couldn’t have given you an answer, but today I can.
Yesterday’s sermon was about the body of Christ, the blessings of being diverse members, the necessity of each member, and the vitality of commitment. Two lines stuck out to me in the sermon (note, these are paraphrased). First, heaven isn’t just going to be a bunch of United Reformed folks. There are other true Christians and true churches out there, and we’re going to share eternity with them, just as we are sharing our time here on earth with them. Second, we can’t simply say to any one that we don’t need them. Cliché as it sounds, God puts people in our lives and puts us in places for a reason. Seek it. Embrace it. Love it. Wherever it is.