Every summer growing up, from the time I was 5, we took our family vacation to Myrtle Beach. There was an amusement park called The Pavilion. There were rides and arcade games, like most amusement parks. My favorite was the bumper cars.
But there was a catch – I was never tall enough to ride the bumper cars. I remember walking up to the Clown sign, with the hand held out that read, ‘ you must be 48 inches to ride this ride.’ I’d stand as tall as I possibly could without actually going on my tip-toes. And they would turn me away. Not tall enough, yet…and I would pout. And I would be bummed out all day. My dad would try and make it better by taking me to play skeeball. But I couldn’t concentrate and didn’t enjoy myself because all I could think about was riding the bumper cars. I wished I was taller. I would pray and ask God to make me taller, just so I could ride the bumper cars.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a future-oriented person. Some people are more drawn to the past – looking back, enamored with history and genealogy. Others are more comfortable in the present – only concerned about the here and now, living fully in the moment. But I am wired to focus on the future. In some ways, that can be a good thing. But I have learned that focusing on the future denies me of living fully in the moment – the dailies that God gives that make up a lifetime of memories and experiences and lessons that craft me into the woman of God He intended me to be.
By age 12, I had narrowed down the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ to either a missionary or a professor at a seminary. True story. That right there was a 13 year long range plan. Trouble is, I didn’t really let God into that plan – even though it was focused on ‘serving Him.’ When I began seminary, I had my life plan narrowed down to teaching English as a second language to adults in Tunis, Tunisia – I had ministered to North Africans in Southern France for ten days after high school. The logical progression seemed to align that way.
By the time I completed my first year in seminary, God turned my hopes and dreams on their heads. My idea of missionary was redefined and my idea of calling was redefined, as well. I came to understand based on scripture, that all believers are missionaries wherever God has placed them. And I am called to be the light and love of Jesus Christ whatever road I walk down. Instead of focusing always on the what next, and doing everything right, God got my attention and took away all my future plans and asked me to focus on the day at hand and on being, rather than doing.
It’s been ten years since I graduated seminary. And my life looks nothing like I thought it would. I consider myself a missionary – and some would consider San Francisco a ‘foreign land.’ But I don’t live in Tunis, Tunisia. And I am not a professor; I am an Operations Supervisor, a wife and a mother – a calling unto itself.
I still sometimes wonder what my life will look like in a year, or even five. But in focusing on the present, soaking up all the beauties and struggles that come with working and raising a family in the city, God has brought me to a place of being more fully alive and making the most of the time I’ve been given. I am raising children who know, love and have compassion for people from across the globe – Vietnam to Guatemala to India – and from all walks of life – Kevin, the resident homeless man at 9th avenue to a cofounder of a popular social media platform. I mentor women on their seminary journey and walk alongside them to figure out the path God has for them. And while I’m not a professor, I continue to be a teaching assistant for one.
And who knows what the future holds? I’m thankful (now) that I don’t have to have those answers and trust God with my past, present AND future.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-27 & 33-34
And by the way, it’s been within the last few years that I’ve made the height requirement for the bumper cars!
About the Author
I’m a part-time working mom of two in my mid-thirties learning to be like Jesus in the big and small dailies in San Francisco. I have a degree in English (Auburn University) and a Masters of Divinity (Golden Gate Seminary). I’m from the South, but not of the South. I’ve traveled to France, Ukraine, and China and, on a regular basis, come in contact with all of those nationalities plus a half a dozen more at the playground seven blocks from the flat we call home. I live in the grace and love of Jesus and live out, as best I know how, that grace and love to others. I beg for God’s kingdom come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – in my corner of the great city of San Francisco, as well as in all the other amazingly beautiful corners of the world – including yours, wherever that may be!