Leaving it behind...
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
I recently got "home" from completing year #2 in the Dominican Republic and heard this song called "I Know" by Big Daddy Weave on the local Christian radio station. It's probably old news to most of you, but I don't listen to a lot of English songs while living in a Latin country. lol The video is posted at the bottom of the page if you're like me and haven't heard it. There's a line in the chorus that says, "I know that you are so much more than what I leave behind." Even typing that out I find so much depth to that phrase. You see, the Lord had to do a number on my heart to get me to surrender to the life I now call "normal."
"...I allowed that dream to consume me and keep me from fully surrendering to what the Lord was dreaming for me."
After my 1st short-term mission trip to the DR in 2015, I could sense the Lord leading me to step into life there, but I gave myself ALLLLL of the reasons why there was no way that I was hearing Him correctly. The number one reason being, I thought I was going to be married soon. (That relationship is an entirely different topic in and of itself, but I allowed it to be my reason for most of the decisions I did or didn't make in life for 7 years. Yes, you read that right... seven.) I had this dream that being married was what I really needed to feel fulfilled in life, and, even though I would have never said those words out loud, I allowed that dream to consume me and keep me from fully surrendering to what the Lord was dreaming for me. Other reasons were that my sister was pregnant with my 1st niece, I had just been pre-approved to buy a house, and the fact that I really just didn't want to leave my "American" lifestyle.
"He gently loved me to His will."
After that trip, the Lord did one of the sweetest things I've seen Him do in my life. He gently loved me to His will. He could have taken my "no," and allowed me to forfeit this part of His beautiful plan for me. Instead, He gave me 2 more opportunities to visit the DR on short-term mission trips. He allowed me to buy that house AND see not one, but TWO beautiful, baby girls be born. He gave me time to really grow in my walk with Him and my desire to do His will.
In the summer of 2018, while reading the book Love Does by Bob Goff, I began feeling the call to finally step out of the life I had fought so hard to keep. It was definitely Divine direction because there is no way my own mind would think that leaving it all behind was a good idea! The guy I had been dating was still in the picture (although that was slowly fizzling out), my nieces were my world, I finally had that house, and my job status as an ESL teacher was pretty secure. If those things weren't enough, I was VERY involved in my church. I was leading the music, teaching youth Sunday school and Wednesday night classes, and on the rotation for nursery and children's church. Yet, my mind could not step away from the thought that the Lord wanted more from me.
"...no matter how hard I tried to push it away."
As I read the book knowing I would soon make my 3rd short-term trip to the DR, something in my heart stirred. The Dominican Republic kept coming to mind no matter how hard I tried to push it away. During that trip, I met with the elementary coordinator at Las Palmas Christian School. It was a bilingual school, and the role of an American teacher is similar to teaching ESL. I spoke with her about the logistics of making the move. School was starting in less than 8 weeks, so there wasn't much time to waste if this is what I was going to do. I left telling her I would pray about it, but I knew I had the answer to that prayer. She left the meeting telling me that I could be the answer to their prayers in filling an available position at the school.
I came home and shared the news with my family. My dad, who pastors the church I was attending even said, "Wouldn't it be better to wait until next year, so that you'll have plenty of time to raise support?" I knew then, if I waited, I would never go. I also STRONGLY believe that the Lord doesn't call us to something we can easily do. He calls us to things only He can do so that His name can be most glorified through our lives. When He calls, He equips.
At right around 5 weeks until the new school year, I met with the principal of the public school I was teaching at to discuss breaking my contract. He asked, "Who am I to stand in the way of the Lord's will for your life?" (Seriously? I had been standing in my own way for years, but some guy who barely knew me didn't want to take a shot at it?) I agreed to a one year contract with Las Palmas, and the reality of it all was beginning to hit me hard. Leaving my school? Fine. My house? Ok, I'll rent it out. My friends and church? You're pushing it. But my FAMILY? NO STINKIN' WAY! I'm sure I asked God multiple times a day to help me make sense of this, but He doesn't always lay out the plan when He calls us to move. He just asks us to take the first step.
I remember feeling like it was a prison sentence and telling people that I could do anything for "just one year." I kept telling myself little things like "He (Jesus) is enough" and "I can do all things through Christ," but I didn't believe it. I literally cried the majority of the 2 plane rides down. I was devastated that I would miss so much in a years time.
"And, in spite of the sadness, I realized that He really is so much more than what I left behind."
Yet, in the midst of it all, I found myself in the center of the most unexplainable peace I've ever known. I didn't like what I was having to do, but I knew it was what God wanted more than anything. Little by little, I began to sense that He really IS enough and I begged Him for opportunities to know Him more. Phrases like, "my life in the DR" turned into just "my life," and the word "home" had a whole new meaning. I found joy in what I thought would surly look like suffering. And, in spite of the sadness of stepping away, I realized that He really is enough! He definitely has proved to be so much more than what I left behind.
Listen to the song, "I Know" by Big Daddy Weave above, and see pics of my sweet family taken the summer of 2018, just before I left for the DR!