“I don’t think you should marry me because I’m not sure I want to go to Ethiopia with you.”
Words said by me to Tim, circa fall 2004 (before we got engaged and then married in June 2005). Now that we’ve announced our intentions to move to Ethiopia as medical missionaries, a lot of people say, “Wow, I could never do that.”. Well, for a long time I didn’t think I could either.
Why did we get engaged and married knowing that I might not be on board with going back to live in Ethiopia when Tim was so passionate about it? Well, because we wanted to get married and maybe nothing could have stopped us…but also because Tim really believed that God would work it out and that if we were supposed to go, we would. I saw that as a little head-in-the-clouds at the time, but looking back I see that Tim had a level of faith in God about that issue that I didn’t have.
Bottom line, I didn’t really think that God could change my heart about that.
But. He. did.
Little by little by little over ten years, He did just that. At the beginning of our marriage, I used to picture myself following Tim around the world, wondering why I had signed up for this and why he didn’t marry a girl who had dreamed about helping little children across an ocean when she was a child herself (you’ve heard those stories, right? They’re beautiful, but that’s not my story).
God didn’t slam me with books about marriage that told me to get in line, and He didn’t lay guilt on me for not wholeheartedly following whatever my husband wanted to do. Instead, He did a thousand little things to open my heart to people who are suffering in Ethiopia, to show me how He’s crafted my personality and gifts to fit there, to give me a vision for what my life would be like there, and to make me literally WANT to go.
I’m launching a little social media effort called #31daysofcalling, where I’m planning to highlight 31 of those thousand things that God used to do a 180 (or you know, maybe a 150) on my heart. I want to show that I’m not a super-Christian or a super-humanitarian or super adventurous or brave…I’m a child of God and He has tenderly crafted a strong desire to serve Him in Ethiopia in my heart. And I want to share a window of how He did that with anyone who might care to follow along.
Y’all, I WANT to go. I’m not just following Tim, I’m not just sucking it up and putting up with a crazy plan for my life. I literally want to do this. I want sick people to be helped by Tim, I want to have Ethiopian friends, I want to drink loads of strong coffee, I want my kids to experience childhood there, and I want people there to know about the love of Jesus.
So don’t believe the lie that things about you can never change. Because God is in the business of change, in the most beautiful and unexpected ways.
Hey Tim—let’s go to Ethiopia.