This was my life. I had felt like the past 18 years had all led up to this one year I spent in South Africa. When I got home, I felt there was no purpose for me here except to get back to Africa. That’s all I wanted. That’s all I felt I needed. That’s all I cared about. That’s all I dreamt about, all I hoped for, all I desired.
After returning from South Africa, I did one year at Eastern Mennonite University, where I formed amazing relationships with beautiful people like the stunning ladies pictured above. This year was one of the most difficult thus far because I almost felt displaced. This place didn’t feel like home anymore. I was in a world where I not only didn’t understand it, but I also didn’t understand myself. So much had changed within me in the past year that I was having trouble keeping up. All I wanted was to go home, and I was determined to do anything to get there. I prayed every night that God would take me back. And this past summer, God answered.
I committed to Rock Africa in August and was set to move to Zimbabwe in February of 2015 to work alongside a nonprofit called Africa Works as the volunteer coordinator. I was so excited. Everything was falling in to place, and soon I would be out of here. Nothing was going to hold me back, I would be so free. I would be home.
I kept forgetting that the Africa I knew so well and this new Africa I knew nothing about were going to be different. I kept forgetting that the people I know and love so well in South Africa weren’t going to be here in this new Africa. I didn’t care, I just wanted to go back to a place that felt like home. My sore heart was so ready for relief. If need be, I was ready to die there.
I met Jared.
Jared isn’t the reason why I chose to stay. He knows very well that I’m an incredibly independent woman with a huge free spirit, and I’m blessed to be with someone who allows my heart to wander and my soul to soar. But Jared is very logical. (Something I am not and have learned to embrace and be okay with it.) Jared didn’t know me when I got home from South Africa, but I’ve told him some stories and my family has shared things with him as well, so he was able to pick up on the type of person I was.
Jared also spent a good amount of time in Africa, so believe me, he gets it.
As the first two months of our relationship went by and I grew to love this beautiful man even more, I started thinking about what I was about to do.
Jared and I had had multiple conversations about me moving to Africa. He was ready to support me no matter what, and he was ready to wait years if he had to. At the end of every conversation, he always told me to follow my heart.
But in every conversation, he always asked the question, “Is this wise?” And that’s completely excluding our relationship. He was asking me if it was wise for me mentally, physically, spiritually, and in the future.
Those were things I was trying to ignore.
Those are things my parents have been asking me for the past 3 months, and I have ignored it because I didn’t want to face the truth.
I had 2 weeks of sleepless nights after that.
I knew what I wanted. I knew where I wanted to be. I knew where my heart was.
But I knew the truth.
And I knew I loved this man unlike any love I’ve ever felt before.
And I knew God placed Him in my life for a solid reason.
And I had a choice to make.
I knew God was going to bless me either way, but that didn’t make any decision easier.
So with my heart in my hands before God, I shut the door to Africa.
And I reopened the door to continuing my education.
And let me just say, it was a hard decision…
but at the same time, it was the easiest decision of my life.
You see, I have no doubt that God had opened up those doors for me to go to Zimbabwe. But I also have no doubt that God was giving me a choice to make. I always thought I had no reason to stay here…and then He gave me one.
God is going to use you. Wherever you are, He is going to use you.
You don’t have to go to Africa to make a difference.
Just open your back door and talk to your neighbor.
Most people would say that I’ve made a mistake saying no to Africa: I’m working at Auntie Anne’s, I’m a waitress at The Tollgate, and I’m going to UPJ starting this spring. Sounds like a pretty mediocre life compared to purchasing a one way ticket to Zim.
But you know something? Not for one second do I think it was a mistake. Ever since I shut that door, I’ve been realizing every single day how God has been using me and is using me every day…
and I can’t believe I’ve wasted the past year not moving forward in His love because I felt that I needed to be in Africa for Him to use me.
If anything, me choosing to stay has been the biggest risk I could’ve ever taken for Christ.
So if you’re struggling right now, if you have a heart for foreign missions but you know it’s not your time yet, take heart! Don’t wait around for God to open up doors for you to go. Open up your heart to Him right now. Be willing, be ready, and be patient. Remain in prayer, and remain in His love. And be fully okay knowing that the biggest risk you could ever take for Jesus is choosing to stay.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.