When I am not feeling well, I find that I think a lot. I get introspective. I think about my life. I think about how things might be different had my life worked out the way I had planned it.
I had it all planned out, you see. Finish college, get a job, meet "the one", marriage, children, stay at home mom, the perfect house, the garden...the dream.
Oh, how my life is so different than what I had planned when I was young.
And I am so grateful.
But, it has taken me a long time to reach that place of gratitude. For such a long time, I felt like I was waiting for my life to be "complete" with all of these things.
There have been years of such wrestling with God with my singleness. The struggle felt like it sat on the surface so often, bringing pain, shame, and frustration at every turn. I longed for marriage. There were seasons of such great grief over what had not been given to me. People prayed and prayed for me, always leading back to the prayer for God to bring a man into my life. I can't even count the number of people who claimed that when they "felt satisfied" with the Lord, they finally found their husband/wife. So, I would draw close to the Lord and surrender it again, in hopes that around the corner, "he" could come, only to end up disappointed again.
There have been times of deep grief over the prospect of my own family being lost for me. Every birthday meant another year when I wouldn't be able to experience that beautiful gift of life in children of my own.
Coming to Ghana has changed so much of that for me.
I wouldn't say that I have lost hope that any of these things might still be in God's plan for me, but I have learned to trust where God has me now.
I have learned that God can fill me in ways I hadn't known previously. I have learned of His love as Father, as friend, as comforter, as lover, as all that He is.
I have learned that parenting is hard. There is a reason why God created families with a father and a mother, because it is hard! A child needs both to be cared for well. And parents need each other to remain sane. My experience parenting Edwin my first year here..it was enough for me to celebrate every single parent I know. Because it's hard.
I also have learned that families look different. Right now, mine looks both big and small. My kids are the almost 60 children that live on campus. My sisters and brothers are the staff and my friends here. And sometimes, it is small, when I need to withdraw and be by myself in my little house. I know that it looks different from a nuclear family and my house is different than what my white picket fence dream was, but it is home.
And while there are times when I still long for someone to walk this road of life with me, I live surrendered to the truth that God called me here as a single person because that is how I could best fulfill His plans for this place. I honestly do not believe I would have been able to do what I am doing, what has been done, if I was married and had a family. Something would have to give, and with a ministry as consuming as this, I am afraid my relationships would be the ones left behind. I needed to be single to fulfill the call of God. Wow! What an awesome privilege. Kind of mind blowing to think about.
So, while it certainly isn't my teenage vision of "My life in 15 years"...I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried. And I guess that's how you know it's God at work. I can stand in gratitude at living life with these amazing kids and staff that I now call my family. I can stand in gratitude at the love I have discovered in the work we do here. I can stand in gratitude at my Father who fills me in every way.
My life isn't how I planned it.