When I was in middle school, I absolutely hated school. I thought it was pointless. I was homeschooled and I did all my work and I was good at it, but I found no pleasure in learning or giving up so much time to this. All I wanted to do with my life was get married, have a dozen kids and homeschool them myself. That was success enough for me. I certainly didn’t need college to achieve this. I viewed college as a very expensive way to find a husband. I had no personal educational goals, I just did what my parents asked and would vent in my journal night after night about how pointless life is. Have you ever read Ecclesiastes? My journals sounded a lot like that.
As for serving God and living out my faith, at this point in my life I was very positive God did not want me to be a missionary. I was extremely shy and insecure and had no desire to ever leave my hometown. I went to church every Sunday, helped in the pre-school children’s program, and volunteered twice a week downtown, serving meals and co-leading a Bible study for kids in low-income families. This was all enough for me. It was comfortable and easy, and when my time of serving was done each day, I could come to my comfortable home and be safe and have everything I needed. I had a pretty regular quiet time, and I was pretty sure all this was good enough to get me through life.
Did I mention I was shy? I was pretty comfortable being mature and talking to adults, but as for people my own age, I had 3 friends. 3 people that I could talk to about silly everyday things. 3 girls that I could have fun around and hang out with. I didn’t talk to anyone else. I wasn’t really open or honest with my 3 friends. When I was at home, I was always locked in my bedroom, alone. Maybe shy isn’t the right word to describe my personality. But that’s what I always blamed my people problems on.
When I volunteered with kids though, I truly felt like I could be myself and enjoyed every minute I spent with them. I was happiest when I was volunteering and working to make others happy. I loved to just love on the kids, at church and downtown, and I loved sharing my faith with them. All I thought of this was that I should have tons of kids someday. I didn’t think there could be any other options.
And then, I started high school. I was scared and felt unprepared to move on and start new things, but I knew that it was time for change to take place. I couldn’t keep living with no goals or purpose. I got involved with my church youth group and started making friends. I still hated school yet did it to make my parents happy. I was still happiest when I was volunteering with children. Then in January of 2008, my freshman year, God began a work in my life that I never could have predicted happening.
I signed up to go on the winter retreat with my youth group. The topic was on missions and serving. It began on a Friday night, and from the start I could feel something happening. I knew God was working on something but I had no idea what. I didn’t totally fall in love with the idea of going off as a missionary somewhere, but I made the decision to go on the high school mission trip to Mexico.
Mexico changed my life. I left on the trip, a shy and insecure girl with none of my new friends going with me. I had no idea what to expect. I journaled throughout the entire trip, recording everything I was feeling, and it’s still amazing to look back. Through everything that happened, I could see God working all around me, showing me His love in so many new ways. I had never felt so joyful in my entire life, and I knew that I had no other desire than to serve God like this for the rest of my life. This is what He had been showing me all along ~ I am happiest when I’m helping people and sharing His love. And when I am stepping out of my comfort zone, all the pressure and distractions of my stressful life here vanish and all that matters is the work that God’s doing. I love being in that place where I have no idea what’s going to happen next, all I can do is trust that God will provide me with everything I need to make it through each hour. I knew that I was living for something bigger than my own happiness, I was living for His glory.
Coming home was difficult, but I wouldn’t forget all the things I had learned over that week. I was given more opportunities to serve people who were affected by a flood later that year. The next spring I got to go back to Mexico with a different team. The summer after that I went to Czech Republic to teach English and share God’s love with teens there. A year after that I went back to Mexico. Each trip was different in many ways, such that they all taught me something different about God and myself and life, but they were the same as I felt Him speaking to me throughout each trip, and showing me how much I love this sort of thing.
The last issue was college. I still didn’t see a point. But I made up my mind that I would be open to it and look for what might be a good fit. My biggest struggle at this point was, do I go to a Christian college, where I could learn about my faith and become a stronger Christian, but not have many ministry opportunities, OR do I go to a public university, with tons of opportunities to share my faith but also many things that could challenge it. I wrestled with this for so long. I did lots of research, until a teacher that I highly respect recommended one school to me. It was a Bible school, close to home, small and affordable. The more I looked into it, the more I liked it. I prayed so much about it, but couldn’t feel God saying yes or no. So I decided to follow this path and see if it was God’s will.
I visited the college, twice. The more I got to know it, the more I liked it. I was pretty sure by August of my senior year that this is where I wanted my journey to continue. I started telling everyone that this is where I was planning to go. Everything about it made it a perfect fit to me. I thought it would be the perfect transition, and I knew I could get an excellent education that would tell me everything I needed to be a missionary. Sure, I applied to a couple different colleges to be safe. But my mind was made up.
The only 2 doubts were 1. This is way too easy, am I supposed to do a harder, more challenging thing that takes me out of my comfort zone? and 2. The cost. While it was one of the most affordable private colleges, I would need a lot of help to get through. And seeing as all I wanted to do with my life was serve people, not necessarily making an income, it really wasn’t practical. So I prayed a ton, and finally came to an agreement with my parents. There was a scholarship that would help immensely. The admissions people told me that they were very impressed with all that I had done and that I was DEFINITELY very applicable for it. So I decided that if I got the scholarship, that would be God’s way of saying yes.
I did everything I could, I had all my paperwork in months early. (Seeing as I had this awful case of senioritis, that’s really saying a lot) I called the school the week of the deadline, just to make sure. They said, “You’re all set! Great job with getting that done. You’ll be hearing from us very soon!” Their exact words.
A month later I still hadn’t heard anything. I called them back because well… it was May and this was really the final decision. I asked why I hadn’t heard anything, and they simply replied, “Sorry, we never got your reference form. You couldn’t be considered for this scholarship.”
In that moment, despite all that just happened, I felt perfectly at peace with it all. I had prayed so much and done everything I could possibly do. In the end it was all up to God, and His answer was no. I didn’t tell many people at first, I was honestly rather embarrassed. In fact, I told everyone at my grad party in June that I was going to this college, even though I knew that wasn’t true.
All year though, I had always had a different school in the back of my mind, that I considered to be my “plan B”. I gave this school a call, and a couple weeks and 2 visits later, I’m now all set to be attending a massage therapy school just a half hour from home. I couldn’t be more excited right now. I’ll be getting to do something that i love most, which is helping people. And I know there are so many ways that I could use massage therapy on the mission field. I know this is only the beginning of my journey and I’m so excited to see where God will take me!!