I curled up in the chair, cradled my cup of herbal tea, and watched him lean forward in excitement. It was our second date. It was too early in the relationship for him to know that I actually had a crippling coffee addiction and hated the early morning. He would figure that out. And he would try to make my coffee. And he would never succeed. Even after six-plus years.
But I didn’t know that, yet.
It was just our second date.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” He had the habit of dating as though he was interviewing me for a job. Which I guess he kind of was…
“Well… realistically? Or ideally?”
“Okay… well… I hope I’d be somewhere in Africa. I’d like to rock babies for a living. Perhaps run an orphanage? And write books in my spare time. And somewhere there would be a large leather chair to curl up and read in.”
He grinned and sipped his hot cocoa.
I didn’t know yet that he hated coffee.
It’s been seven years since that interview. Ahem. I mean “date.”
Today I didn’t wake up in Africa. In fact, a host of dreams came crashing to the ground when it became evident that my body would never be allowed more than 30 miles from an IV pole and regular drug infusions. I haven’t written a book. And I don’t own a leather chair. Children destroy leather. All my furniture is from Craigslist. Also, reading is now a “luxury.”
Today I plunged a toilet full of poop. I was vomited on, cried on, and sweated on. My hair is falling out in massive, post-partum clumps. I don’t live in a tiled, arid orphanage. I inhabit a rather sticky Victorian twin house.
My mission field has changed.
There was always some glamour that surrounded my dream future. (I suppose that’s always the case when one is dreaming.) Everything is perceived through a 1950s movie filter. When I was meeting with a mentor during grad school, she asked me about my future. I described a myriad of outcomes with the typical fluid life-after-college view. She tilted her head and said,
“Do you realize that every situation you’ve described to me is an extreme? Extreme wealth, or extreme adventure… You picture yourself in a mansion or in a mud hut. What happens if you fall somewhere in between? After all, most people fall somewhere in between…”
The thought had never crossed my mind. My eyes widened. My heart filled with terror at the thought of mediocrity.
But here I am.
I’m a stay at home mom. Middle class. Suburban America.
But today, I shared the gospel over, and over, and over again. I was desperately needed and begged for and pulled at. And I laid down my own life, my own desires, my own time to meet the needs of another. I was asked to mimic Christ in my humility of cleaning up poop, and soggy goldfish crackers, and piles of stuffed animals. (Seriously, do those little fuzzy teddy bears breed in the toy box? Stuffed animals everywhere.)
But beyond that, I was given the gift of disciplining and teaching. It doesn’t always feel like a gift as my three-year old yodels in anger, but it is. Because time after time after time I pull a child onto my lap. We walk through their sin. And we walk through their only hope.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
When my head is in the game (and that is an important caveat!), I am presented with thousands of opportunities to share Christ, to model Christ, to become like Christ. It’s not glamorous. I don’t post pictures of untamed jungles and wild desserts on my Instagram. I have no accolades. Nothing about my current status could be called glamorous. I’m living in the middle. In mediocrity. I am in awe of those who do all of this and travel to unfamiliar lands… that’s what I often forget. They have all this, and more, to contend with. Normal life plus the great unfamiliarity of new languages, cultures, and people. But that’s not where God asked me to walk. He asked me to walk here.
Whether in life or in death, whether I am here forever, or if someday I’m allowed to enter greater adventures, my missional goal remains the same:
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.
2 Corinthians 5:9