The life I wouldn’t have chosen
Here is the rundown on the last 14 or so years of my life … (don’t worry, I’ll keep it brief):
- 2000: graduate from Winona State University with my BSN-Nursing; move to St. Paul, MN to work as a nurse at St. Paul Children’s Hospital
- 2001: leave nursing, go on staff with The Navigators, move to Ithaca, NY, for a 1-2 year internship with The Navs at Cornell University
- 2003: finish my internship, move to Cedar Falls, IA, and work as a RN at an ophthalmology clinic (translation: working with people & their eyes)
- 2006: move to St. Louis, MO, to pursue a master’s degree in counseling at Covenant Seminary
- 2007: marry Shun-Luoi
- 2008 (summer): move to Manitou Springs, CO, to live “for the summer” and finish up my final 2 master’s classes remotely as Shun-Luoi works for a local non-profit organization
- 2008 (fall): move to Pagosa Springs, CO, to be on staff with Summit Ministries’ gap-year “Summit Semester” program
- 2008 (winter): move back to Manitou after semester program is finished (this was the plan)
- 2009: graduate (remotely) with my master’s degree, give birth to a beautiful baby boy named Elijah
- 2010: move for a brief stint to Longmont, CO, to explore moving into the more urban area of Denver, CO; move back to Manitou in the fall, give birth to a beautiful baby girl named Abigail
- 2012-2013: decide that we’re moving short-term to Thailand to base Shun-Luoi’s humanitarian business; sort through and sell the majority of our possessions, move to Thailand in April 2013
- 2014: make the decision to move back to America in the spring of this year
On a side note, Shun-Luoi and I were talking about some specifics regarding our future recently and he mentioned that we should maybe wait until I was a bit more rested because he knows I find it harder to talk about certain things and make decisions at later hours of the day. I laughed and told him that wasn’t really possible because I hadn’t felt “more rested” since, um … 2006, before I began graduate school and had kids. I was right, and after reading the above list, I think I need to go take a nap. ;) On a more serious note, I wrote that all out to show that I obviously haven’t really lived the ahem, “conventional” American life.
I realize that things are changing in that many people (in countries such as America -I realize this is not a worldwide phenomenon) choose to do things differently than graduating, settling into one career, settling into a particular area of the country, and staying there until they retire. I don’t think things have all changed for the better, as I believe that my generation and those behind me could grow in their ability to commit, especially to hard things, among other things. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to try different things if we’d like and that is a privilege. Despite the changing tide, however, it’s still easy for me to feel the pressure to live the more conventional American life and to wonder what others think because we’re not. But friends, God has just not led that way in our life together thus far.
But let me tell you something. Anyone who really knows me deeply, who knows my personality and my preferences, would know that if left to myself I would not choose this path. I wouldn’t. I can struggle with being too rigid at times, I can be a black and white thinker to a fault, I tend to “dream small” (not something I apologize for, but it’s a factor), I have a history of dealing with some anxiety, and I prefer adventure within a controlled setting. Now, take a look at that run-down of my last 14 years again … do you think someone like me would choose that many changes, an international move, and everything else involved with each major thing I listed there?
Not unless they’re crazy. I wouldn’t have chosen this life for myself. But, I’m so glad the life I live is mine. I’m (most of the time) thankful for the fact that God has asked me to do things I wouldn’t have naturally chosen, because it has meant that I am pushed out of that aforementioned rigidity, black and white thinking, fear, and anxiety. I am pushed beyond myself and while not comfortable at times, it’s rich. I believe I’m becoming more fully who He created me to be, which has huge ramifications on how I love and serve Him and others.
The next place we move is one we’d love to be in, Lord-willing, for a good chunk of time. After all, there is much good to be found in putting down roots and investing deeply in the people and things around you. But “conventional American life” or not, it’s bound to be an adventure.
Sign me up. (gulp)