Lately I've been noticing a change in the direction of my life. I guess it is only slight, since my ultimate goal remains the same. Ultimately I still want to be a mother. I want to raise children, whether biological or adopted. Even that last sentence is a shift in thinking for me. You see, I really didn't give much thought to adoption 10 years ago. I innocently thought that things would go pretty much as I imagined in my mind. I got married, finished college, worked for a couple of years, and was ready to start a family.
In fact, let's back up a bit. When I started college I majored in journalism. As far as career choices went, I knew that I liked to write. I wasn't sure whether that was the right path but I figured it was a safe place to start. Even then I knew that what I wanted out of life was marriage and children, but I have always been a very practical person. I didn't know how long that might take, so I wanted to pursue something I would enjoy. The fact was that I doubted I would find a spouse immediately.
Then came the first major shift.
It became increasingly harder for me to work on a deadline. I was pretty stressed out, and suddenly being a freshman in college, working my minimum wage, on-campus job, and writing for my school's newspaper were stretching me too thin. I know people who have conquered much more difficult things than that, but at the time it was pretty overwhelming for this small-town girl! To top it all off, I was trying to get through without school loans (by God's grace) and without a car. It was certainly a challenge!
By my second year of college I decided to change my major. My relationship with Chuck had grown more serious and I began to consider a more family-oriented major. I didn't regret what studying journalism had taught me so far, so I decided to continue with it as my minor. The best thing is that I hadn't lost any time. I still graduated in 4 years, with only one extra summer of classes in the middle. Don't get me wrong, college had not become just something I thought I should do. As someone who didn't come from a long (or even short) line of college graduates, I felt honored to be there. I worked at it with all of my might, even after getting married between my junior and senior years. My graduation day finally came in May of 1999 (yikes, almost 10 years ago!). I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family, Infancy, and Early Childhood Education with a double minor in Child Development and (that's right) Journalism. I graduated summa cum laude, and I praised the Lord for seeing me through with my goal intact: finishing college debt free.
That brings me back to the shifting. I felt like my life up until that point had been geared toward having a family. Certainly I consider my husband and myself a family, but I always wanted children too. Although I never wanted to be a teacher, I saw myself having my own children and somehow working with other children. My life has taken quite a different path and I now don't know in what direction it is heading. For example, I used to volunteer at church in the nursery department, mainly to fill a gap that needed extra help. I've come to realize, though, that it isn't my place to do that. That isn't where I need to be right now, and I'm done feeling guilty about it. I would much rather serve where my heart is truly in it. I still love children and want to be a mother more than ever. But how can I serve? Where is my place?
I'm beginning to think that my place, for right now anyway, is a "caring ministry." It turns out that life hasn't given me tons of experience with raising kids even though I thought I had set it up that way. No, I now have more experience with loss, trials, and grief. But I'm not falling apart (again, by God's grace). I hope I'm being made stronger. I've learned over the years that you never know what someone else is facing in life. I've learned to be sensitive to other people's struggles. I've learned to listen and not give empty advice or words of false hope. I hope I've learned to be a better friend and a praying friend.
I trust in God's plan for my life and I'm willing to go where He leads. In this life I've surely learned how to be flexible. Hopefully from here on out, the stretching and the shifting won't be too difficult.