16 May 2010


five years ago, life as i had a reasonable anticipation of knowing what to expect of it came to an end, and something new commenced.

i graduated high school and went off to college with high hopes for the future. a few years earlier, i had experienced a calling in the middle of 8th grad history wherein the lord told me i was going to be a doctor someday and help heal the world. at seventeen, i was confident that i was following the right path to get there; i had been accepted into a special pre-med program with an exclusive major and assured acceptance to medical school, and planned on breezing through in three years and moving on to the real thing.

there were some things i didn't plan on--that this "college" stage of life that begin with my high school commencement was really so much more than just school.

at seventeen, i didn't plan on meeting women who would open up their lives to each other,

who would inspire and support and pray for and love each other,

who would become some of my very best friends.

i did plan on staying close with my best girls, but i could never have imagined how we'd share misadventures, stand with each other in big moments, and fall even more in love with each other and with the lord.

at seventeen, i didn't plan on ditching school entirely for a semester and moving to south america to do medical and humanitarian work with my childhood parish's sister church.

at seventeen, i didn't plan on getting baptized [again] as a public affirmation of my faith in the very choppy waters of monona bay on an unseasonably cold august morning.

at seventeen, i didn't expect to get involved in an outreach program in a poor and shady part of the city that would help shape and solidify my life goals.

at seventeen, i didn't plan on hearing god whisper "that's the man who will be your husband" when i met a guy my first month of college...

...and at seventeen, i certainly didn't plan on marrying him a few years later.

at seventeen, i never would have imagined any of this to happen. my plan was to have as few distractions as possible from working toward this ambitious goal of medical school and from following my calling. what i've realized along the way is that, without the people god has woven into my life or without heeding the guidance he has spoken to me, i would be lonely, burned out, frustrated, over-worked, and very boring. as a result, i celebrate the people whose paths wind with mine, and when the lord calls me to something, i answer. so much of what i've done--and am imminently going to do, as our haiti trip leaves tomorrow afternoon--has been just following the voice of god. he has saved me and called me as his own, and so i answer.

so when the call last december was to forfeit my reserved seat at my university's medical school in my final year of eligibility...i did it.

it wasn't completely unreasonable or out of the blue. when my husband receives his PhD this summer, he will have to leave this university, and there isn't another in wisconsin, perhaps not even in the midwest, where he could work. there's no point in me investing in a possibility that isn't a feasible option. this charge from the lord to give up that seat came with the promise of something better for our family.

weeks passed...months passed...and one by one, the medical schools i had applied to rejected me, and the one that hadn't--the one whose philosophy best suited my personality and goals, the one i really wanted to get into--wasn't moving me forward. i trusted that the lord had a purpose, but i couldn't see or understand it. i longed for direction or explanation but received nothing but silence; i felt completely lost or abandoned. i didn't question the sovereignty of his plan, but i began to doubt my interpretation of my calling, and question my own identity. without what i had worked toward for the past decade, who am i?

speaking with a friend and mentor a few weeks ago helped me reaffirm that the loss or lack of the promised results of a calling doesn't take away who i am. i have an identity in christ as a daughter of the risen king, and an identity as a wife and partner to my husband. this wasn't completely satisfying, however--whatever happened to my identity as me? what happened to the girl who heard a voice in her heart that day in 8th grade history? still that same question--who am i?

it took a few weeks--weeks spent fighting the lack of myself in my working definition of my own identity--before i realized that i am still that girl. identity isn't what you do, it's who you are. i am still a girl whose heart craves to seek, listen to, and follow the lord. i am still willing to follow wherever that leads. i'm still me.

at seventeen, i didn't plan on making stupid choices; at seventeen, i would have deemed many of the decisions i have been led to make in the years since then to be, well, very stupid. but what i didn't understand five years ago at seventeen was that any decision made following god's call is not a foolish choice, and his plan is always better than mine.

i graduated from college today, a year or two later than i had planned to at seventeen, but rich with the experiences of all that time. i have short-term plans--a week and a half of crazy travel and incredible experiences, with my haiti mission trip and a last-minute interview at that one medical school that never got around to rejecting me--but i think i know better now than to plan my life. instead, i'm keeping ears, eyes and heart open to see where we are called.

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