My birthday is coming in just a few days. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m turning 37! Do I feel old? Not sure. Do I feel young? Neither. I feel ok, thankful, and reflective.
I thought it’s a good time to look back, glean some lessons I’ve learned, and share them with you. Some of the lessons you might have nailed it in your 20s. That is great! You are a blessed chic. But for those you haven’t thought of or perhaps are still wrestling with, I hope my journey can offer you some light and comfort.
Each lesson will be a story. I don’t generalize them as “life lessons” though they could be. But I hope you will find in these real stories the attributes and ways of God.
Considering the length of each article, I’m going to share them in several parts. Today, I offer you the first lesson in the first story:
Lesson 1: It may take an unexpected U-turn to get where you desire to be— obedience is the key.
I had worked with a mission mon-profit for eight years, ever since I graduated from university. It was a crucial formation season of my Christian Fatih. At the age of 30, I felt led to leave the organization. At that time, I was a staff on one of the organization’s Swiss campuses, close to Geneva. I felt God was calling me to search for an NGO job in Geneva. And I did. I prepared my CV and sent it out to several job openings with great expectations. I volunteered, met with people, and networked for opportunities. However, by the time when my visa was about to expire, nothing happened in the job arena.
I loved Geneva city. I had made some good friends from the church I attended there. I had dreamed of living in the city and starting a family. But now, I was devastated and confused. I had no idea where my future would be.
A few months prior, I had a conversation with a visiting pastor who started a seminary in Barcelona. I shared with him my job searching process and my desire to serve God in every season. He offered me an opportunity to study in the seminary to be further equipped. But because it was so far from what I had imagined for my future, I politely turned it down.
Now, this offer came to mind as I saw no other door open. Meanwhile, a friend from another campus of my organization reached out to me and told me they needed a three-month translator. She asked me to consider taking the role and offered accommodation, daily meals on campus, and a visa extension for exchange. The three-month visa extension gave me just enough time to get the Spanish student visa for the seminary in Barcelona. It all worked out perfectly.
However, having to leave Geneva made me very sad. Among the good friends I made, I had a special feeling towards a guy. I liked him and sensed that maybe he liked me too. But we made no further commitment. I had believed that God was leading me to look for a job and settle in Geneva, and only God knew how much I desired to settle in a place, be married, and have a family after countless travels and moves throughout my 20s. But, why didn’t He give me a job in the end? Why did I have to leave? Didn’t He bring me to the city in the first place? Didn’t even my love for the city come from Him? Why did He take everything away from me?
In my confusion and broken-heartedness, God kept whispering to me, “Trust Me, and let it go.” I remembered the story of Abraham offering his beloved son Isaac, and I felt God was asking me to offer Him all my desires and dreams for the future. I finally surrendered. Though I didn’t know what the future held, or if I would ever marry, I chose to trust that God, my Father in heaven, would take good care of me.
Obedience is not just complying with motion outwardly, but a heart gesture of sweet surrender on the inside. It drew me closer to God and deeply bound me with Him, for better or for worse.
I left Geneva, beloved Switzerland, the friends I thought I would do life with, and never dared to dream of returning. It was a big U-turn.
What happened later? Well, I started my study at the seminary in Barcelona. It was a big stretch for me, but like what a good workout does to our body, it “hurt so good” for my Christian faith. I kept in touch with friends from Geneva. One year after I left, the guy I had feelings about asked me to be his girlfriend on the phone one day.
Nine months later, we held a beautiful wedding outside of a castle in Geneva. Then I traveled back and forth between two cities for the last semester’s study. Four months later, I graduated with a master’s degree and permanently moved back to Geneva.
I had to offer up my dreams to learn trust and obedience. I thought finding a job, settling in an apartment, then starting dating would be the step A>B>C to get to my dream of having a family, but God’s way for me was A>L>G>B —- leave the guy I like, go to seminary in a new country, start dating, then come back to the city I love. And that U-turn included some deep learning curves in the seminary, which I believe would be something I need for the task in my future. God always sees the big picture of our life.
Dear reader, I hope this story and the lesson I shared with you will be some food for thought today. I’d love to read your feedback in the comment below!
Next week, I will share the second story with another lesson in it. Make sure you subscribe to my blog not to miss it! Thank you for reading along! 🙂