Tuesday, February 24, 2015
"I'll go wherever you want me to go God, I'll do whatever you want me to do, just don't leave me."
I was sixteen years old when I prayed that prayer, just before deciding to join the Marine Corps. I've been living out that promise for nearly ten years now, and God has held up his end of the deal. Not that I expect him to change his mind. The journey of this past decade has driven me into the depths of despair as I faced false beliefs and the trauma that put them there, and ejected me to the highest mountains of elation as I rejoiced in baby steps of healing and in the smallest, purest joyful moments of life.
I've stood on the rooftop of an orphanage in Haiti watching the sunrise bathe a valley in gold, witnessing orphans wake to the squawking of roosters while I prayed for how I could serve them with the utmost love. I've rafted down the deepest rivers in Malaysia as a heavy mist descended on our peaceful venture highlighting the greenest brush and trees home to tropical birds of varied species. I've jumped on a rickety boat in the same country to find indigenous people living on nothing but their wits and skills, to bring them medical supplies, only to have the boat breakdown in the middle of the lake in the midst of a rain storm. I've taken a scooter into the richest, most beautiful rice fields of Bali and ate fresh fish and palm wine on the rocky beach of the same Island with locals. I've forgiven and rebuilt a relationship with someone I swore, as a child, I would never be able to forgive. I've survived some of the worst atrocities one human being can do to another and by God's grace still manage to have compassion on the world. I've quiet smoking, then quit again, struggled with how much I enjoy a good drink, made financial mistakes I'm still paying for, and have - on more than a few occasions - come crawling back to God on my knees with my head hung and my tail between my legs begging for forgiveness... only to be surprised and granted it yet again. And again.
I asked it then, and I've asked it many more times since - I'll go wherever you want me to go God, I'll do whatever you want me to do, just don't leave me. I know that I can survive anything, endure anything, experience anything and still be okay as long as He's by my side. Ask, and you will receive.
In October, 2013 I realized just how much I lacked trust in the God I claimed to need and love. Where is the love without trust? I prayed another prayer I knew would be answered, and the answers would put me on a path that would alter my life as I knew it. "Lord, help me trust you. I can't grow, I can't learn, I can't serve you the way I want to if I don't trust you. I want to trust you. Help me to know you so I can trust you."
I began a journey of studying out WHO God is. Not who I think He is, or who people have told me He is, but who His Word says He is. Who is God? What makes him angry? What makes him happy? What does he delight in? What invokes his wrath? What makes him tick? What motivated Him to make mankind in the first place, and then allow us to fall into sin and away from Him? A million questions raced through my mind, and I began a journey of dissecting the Bible with one mission: getting to know God the way I knew my best friend, or the way I'd want to know my future husband. The effects of such a study have left me staggering in awe, humility and reverence.
In August, 2014 when I made my journey to Malaysia with HOPE Youth Corps to serve, I met a man that would forever change my life. We shared a total of about 16 hours together - roughly 8 in Penang, Malaysia where we met at church and he joined my group to serve fixing up a building. Then another 6 hours in Singapore where I had a short layover. Then another 45 minutes in the airport of Kuala Lumpur during another layover. Once I made it back home to Washington and he returned to his home in Sohar, Oman, we kept in touch through e-mail and the occasional video chat. The typical way for friends to keep in touch long distance. As 2 page e-mails turned into 5 and 6 page e-mails, and the friendship deepened, I saw the potential for something more than just the plutonic, mutually respectful and encouraging relationship we had going.
Through his generosity, I was able to make a trip out to see him earlier this month. I flew into Dubai and felt very much like Cinderella at the palace - without her fancy dress and slippers. I happily accepted his definition of me being "the girl next door" whom he didn't feel like he had to impress all the time. We journeyed to his home in Sohar, Oman where his family lived with him and I was introduced into a very close, beautiful family. Though I'm a big fan of greenery, I fell in love with the desert in a way I did not expect. As our time together increased, I began to fall in love with the man who brought me there as well. When the level of his character and integrity was revealed to me one night in Sohar, I tripped, fell, dove (however you want to put it) head first into the big L. After a few days in the big city and capital of Muscat, Oman, my joy and delight in him as well as in my surroundings only increased. When I met the church in Muscat, I was convinced.
I needed to move here.
Between the faith and the needs in the church, my skills and talents that could fill some of those needs, and the love between my (now) boyfriend and I... there was no doubt what I needed to do. To make disciples of all nations, to grow in my faith, to help others on their walk with Christ in their efforts to remain faithful, to expand my knowledge of the world and desire to make a difference in the lives of others beyond my immediate friends and family... this was where I needed to be.
Though I have a secured seat in a master's program on the east coast, I'm declining the acceptance to attend Cambridge's Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) this summer. My goal is to obtain a job teaching English as a second language to adults in Muscat this coming fall. I am selling everything I own to raise money to help me get there, and to purge myself of everything I don't need to move. I have been growing a library since I was thirteen years old and it has been a source of real pride to me over the years. I'm selling the majority of my books and all the shelves they sit on. My bed, my television and speakers, and just about everything I won't be using in Oman or don't want to keep in storage until I return to the states - whenever that will be. My goal is to take two suitcases of clothes and such, a box of books/cookware/movies and then my dog.
I asked to grow in trusting God... ask, and it will be given! I don't doubt my decision at all. I have a loving man who is so supportive and helpful and encouraging. I have a family who, despite their daughter moving to the Middle East, are supportive and loving. I have a beautiful church who supports me at home, and who is eager and happy to welcome me when I arrive in Muscat. Seeing the need for God so blatantly in a country dominated by idols, my heart ached to help. To do something. Anything. The idea of selling everything frightens me a little - it's showing me where my security lies - I'm also very excited to go and begin this incredible journey. I can't wait to see what God will do and how he's going to help me grow.
I'm a little anxious to see what parts of my character he's going to reveal to me that needs to change! But it's worth it. It's always worth it when the dark is met by the dawn.
Me and Joe - my godly, incredible friend and guide.