To go, or not to go.
When you were a kid did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I know some who can say yes to that, and they've actually become what they always wanted to be. For me, I never had a set in stone answer to that question. In fact, it wasn't until my late teens that I had even an inkling of an idea of what I wanted to do. When I figured it out though, that dream became so big that it couldn't be contained.
2018 for Eli and I has been one of climbing many mountains. What we don't like to hold on to, though, is that in between each mountain stands the valley you must go through to climb the next one. One quote holding the truth of this year for us simply says, "perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again."
A valley hit us again recently when I found myself blaming my husband for a decision that was made by both of us, simply because he was the easy target. It was too hard to admit I knew it was the right decision, and I too stubborn to see the endless possibilities of good coming from our outcome. This unification swirled together in a perfect storm of bitterness and resentment, two emotions that never belong in the same tornado.
When I first met my husband he was a young twenty something, loud and outgoing and carefree in a world of college students trying to figure out their place in life. He was working toward a degree in physics (one which we may never know why he got), living a newly transformed life in Jesus. Having no idea what he wanted to do, he pushed forward knowing he loved people and loved his life and loved his friends. He was joyful and content.
At that time, I myself was finishing my education in a field I chose because there were no math and science class requirements. Smart, I know. I had no idea where I was going or what I was to do with that degree. But hey, it all works out, right? I had dreams of living in another country, getting to experience the culture and the livelihood and work with children (another shock to my family I must add). I was exploring options left and right with nothing standing in my way. And, to my surprise, an opportunity arose.
Africa was it for me. I had found the dream job I had been looking for - sort of. I at least found direction. I knew I wanted a health related job without being a medical school student. A grass roots, poverty alleviating, let's fix the health problem from the ground up instead type of work. Prevention was my key word. Undoubtedly, a Master of Public Health degree was my next chosen path. I learned so much about what prevention in global health looks like; how to take a poverty related issue intertwined with cultural values and heal a community from the inside out. It stirred up dreams of building wells and training community health workers and educating individuals on how HIV is spread.
Then came Eli. All wide eyed and outgoing, he swooped in right alongside me and became my partner. My, "we can go anywhere and do anything and be anything" partner that loves life and got me out of my comfort zones. Plus he's handsome, I mean come on. He altered my dream in the slightest way, just enough that I was willing to travel to other countries instead of move if that's what we really wanted. I was honestly completely content with that, too, thinking that was what we were meant to do. That was how our opposite side of the coin dreams were going to collide and life was going to work out just perfectly.
Until it didn't happen.
The beginning of this year was out of sorts for us. I lived in another state (side note, not suggested for newlyweds- just throwing that out there) pursuing the end of my degree to have the world at my feet and the wind in my sails. I had a perfect opportunity before me (in my mind, of course), to move my dream forward. At the same time, however, Eli got his dream job offer. Literally I kid you not, at the SAME TIME. God works in funny ways, wouldn't you say? Laying before us was a decision. Flat out, on the table, staring at us with bright wonder, lay two completely opposite opportunities that was going to propel one of us into our dream and leave the other grasping for reality.
How do do you choose that? How do you decide, as a couple, what is the right way to go? How do you look your spouse in the eye and tell them you want to be selfish and choose your way, not their's?
Standing in the kitchen of our apartment on decision day, Eli and I stared at each other in stunned silence. He watched, compassionate yet firm as tears trickled down my face one by one. Trying to wipe them away fast enough for him not to notice, I eventually gave up and gave in to the simple fact that my hurt could not be hidden. In what seemed like a momentary decision, the door to my dream was slammed shut while his stood wide open, light beaming through just waiting for us to walk through.
For the first time in our year of marriage, we learned why married people say marriage is hard. Our honeymoon phase had ended and we were at odds with each other.
For a long time I was bitter. I was frustrated for weeks that we chose to stay here. I cried tears of anger and fought to break down walls of strife at many turns along our journey in the days and weeks following that decision. I blamed my husband for making a decision I wanted to believe was wrong but I knew was right. I was too stubborn to grasp the good that was here, too unwilling to accept blessings because it would affirm our staying when I wanted to go.
I would love to say this was easy to get over. Easy to let go of what I thought was my ticket to what God had created me to do. The thing I had to learn, though, is that this fell apart so something better could be put together. This wasn't my ticket to a life of fulfillment; it may have been a great adventure, yes, but there are so many things ahead of my life with Eli that we can't see yet.
I was hit in the gut by our reality in a timely fashion, and it was necessary. A reality that shows we have so much here to be thankful for and excited about. Reality that says my husband still loves me and my dreams are still viable. Reality that says our present can change in an instant, but even if it doesn't it's what is meant to be and it is wonderful. Nothing is for certain and nothing is forgotten. Reality that simply says God is in control, seeing all things and working all things together for good - He wastes nothing.
I may never know what could have come from that opportunity, I'm not sure I ever want to know. What I do know, though, is that God can do amazing things and the best is always yet to come.