Wrestling in the Mist


@ Pringle Bay (SA) with BFF

My first and only international business trip took me to South Africa over the new year of 2006-2007. My best friend Anna got to go with me. It was a magical time. I felt a soul connection with South Africa; it was a feeling like I have never experienced before in my international travels. On the last night of the conference, I remember looking up at the stars and feeling as though I would return someday to South Africa, but I didn’t know when or how.

In the spring after I returned home, I entered into a season of restlessness and spiritual wrestling. I recently broke up with my boyfriend, and I was angry. I was being considered for jury duty for a capital murder case and that process made me question my long-held beliefs about capital punishment and our justice system. I had a lot of questions for God, big questions: Why doesn’t God bring the right man in my life? How could a loving God allow so much injustice in the world? Why are some people born into environments of unimaginable abuse and poverty with no way out, while others are born into loving families and communities? I kept thinking about the poverty I saw in South Africa, the young man in Nashville who was about to be tried for his life. I was frustrated, angry, and having serious doubts of faith. I wanted answers from God. I was miserable, and I was making everyone around me miserable. Looking back, I think this crisis of faith was much worst than I thought at the time; it scares me to think about how close I was to throwing in the towel, to walking away from God.

Thankfully, God is much more persistent in his relationship with us than we are in our relationship with him. God doesn’t give up on us. He used some key people in my life, including my dad, to help me get through the time of wrestling. Like Jacob of old, I believe I emerged stronger in my faith. I never did receive answers to my questions; but with God’s help, I decided to trust God anyway. I am learning to live with the questions.

Funnily enough, once I came to this point in my faith journey, I started to have a sense of being called towards something. I didn’t know what, but I felt as though God was calling me towards something, to do something. It was a time of mistiness, but I felt warm. It was a time of uncertainty, but I felt hopeful. I was no longer scared.

NOTE: This is the first post of a three-part series that recounts my missionary discernment process.

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Bon Voyage–in Less Than a Year

indigenous flower
an indigenous flower of SA (Please don't ask me the name!)

“Hello, Short-Timer,” greeted a colleague as we walked to our cars after work today. “When do you leave us?”
“Next . . . in January,” I replied.

Suddenly, it hit me. I have less than a year before I move to Cape Town! As I drove home, feelings of excitement, fear, and being overwhelmed hit me like waves. Sometimes I wonder how I am going to get everything done while still working full time and while still trying to have a life. Sometimes it seems impossible; at other times, all the factors of my transitioning life seem to operate like clockwork.

So why am I going through all this bother? Why am I giving up most of my material stuff, my way of life, my comfort zone? Why am I leaving my family and friends to move literally across the world? I think these are the questions most people really want to ask when they ask me, “Why are you becoming a missionary?” At times, it is even hard for me to imagine a life without Starbucks and my iPhone.

Since this blog is about my journey to become a Christian cross-cultural worker (missionary), I thought it might be helpful and interesting (and perhaps entertaining) to hear part of the backstory. So in the next couple of weeks, I plan to start a blog series that tells about my discernment process, how I was able to discern God’s call to mission work.

Stay tuned.