I really thought my life as a nearly 37-year-old would look very different from the way it actually looks today.
As a 20-year-old, let's say, I envisioned my future self as living in another country, speaking another language and having a family with bi (or tri)-lingual children. I planned on raising them to love other cultures, attend local schools, eat ethnic foods and travel the world. We would possibly even live without plumbing. And my husband would be right there beside me--leading people to Christ and possibly even preaching or teaching in other languages. That's how it was supposed to go.
And if I stayed single? (my plan B) I'd get my PhD and have lots of disciple "children" in another country, like Amy Carmichael, who was a single missionary in an orphanage in India for over 50 years.
Oh how God has a sense of humor.
Though I was on that very path, God U-turned my life six years ago to bring me back exactly where I started (or so I thought). And I found myself living a life I never dreamed I'd live: an "ordinary" one.
The crossroads of life have a catch. Once you pass them, you can never go back.
I recently listened to a podcast called Sorta Awesome that talked about saying goodbye to all of your potential yous that never came into existence. And I feel it's time that I bid those other Leslies adieu.
Goodbye to the single Leslie who would change the world.
Goodbye to the Leslie who would marry someone of another race and have gorgeous bi-racial children.
Goodbye to the Leslie who would marry someone in full-time ministry.
Goodbye to the Leslie who would get a PhD studying an ethnic minority in northwest China.
Goodbye to the Leslie who would be a social worker (my first major).
Goodbye to the Leslie who would transform the inner city of Chicago through her badass teaching methods...think Dangerous Minds (I tried that, actually, and that Leslie didn't materialize).
Goodbye to the Leslie with 6, 8 or 10 children (probably not biologically possible for me anymore), or the Leslie who would be the "mom of boys" or "mom of girls" (I have a boy and a girl).
Goodbye to the Leslie who would be a nurse (I got accepted to nursing school, but didn't go).
Goodbye to what could have been.
Hello and welcome to what is. To what God has done, is doing and will do.
Thank God for the roads taken and the roads not taken. Because at every crossroads, He was there. He was pointing, guiding, urging, leading and holding my hand, whether I knew it or not.
Goodbye, fair Leslies. Those would have been good lives, too, were they what God had planned for me. It turns out He wanted me to be a teacher, live for a time in China, be single for a season, finally marry an actor in Chicago, have two adorable stinkers, move to Colorado and begin a little blog.
And "ordinary" is relative, after all. This Saturday night, I cooked dinner to James Taylor in the background, with my one-year-old daughter on my hip, helping me deliver cardamom, cumin, coriander and turmeric to the counter to make chickpea curry. Meanwhile, my sick husband was curled up with tea, a cozy blanket and a book at the kitchen table.
In the other room, our son played with our former Saudi Arabian exchange student, laughing and making trucks talk back and forth. My daughter got bored "cooking" and dove into the cardboard box in the living room that is our best new toy.
Earlier in the day, we all squashed into our Corolla to drive 45 minutes up into the snow-covered mountains to Rocky Mountain National Park, pausing on turn-outs for breath-catching views. We put the kids to bed after dinner and conversations about the intersections of Muslim and Christian theology and melted into the couch to watch a new British murder mystery T.V. series.
Yes, our life is ordinary. But ordinary is the way your foot eventually molds grooves into stiff shoes. It is the way a gorgeous new dress gradually becomes "you" and a natural part of your wardrobe. "Ordinary" for us does not look like "ordinary" for others. In fact, your "ordinary" may be very exotic to me, and vice versa. Ordinary is no longer a bad word to me.
Though I am not changing the world at a macro level, love, cultures, food, friends, laughter and challenges are happening at a micro level under my roof just as they would have had I found myself on another path. This is the Leslie that God intended to be. So I will stop turning to look back at those other Leslies that could have been and allow them to fade into the distance, granting them a fond, but firm farewell. I do not regret a single road taken. Though life is not as I expected, it is still pretty spectacular, even in all its ordinary-ness.
What about you? How does your life look different (so far) from what you had planned for yourself? How have you seen the grace in that? I'd love to read your stories in the comments!
Previous Post~Personal Discoveries in 2015: Friendships, Spirituality & Writing
Next Post~Art & the Alabaster Jar
Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I'd love to get to know you better!
Linking up with #Wholemama and Me, Coffee, and Jesus and Grace and Truth and Velvet Ashes
Labels: contentment, identity, living cross-culturally, marriage, Missions, ordinary moments, Spiritual Lessons