"I literally strained to imagine how I could both serve as a missionary for God and be married, how I could love enough in both, how I could be present enough in both,"
This was such a long period in my life, this weighing of the balance, that I honestly can't believe I haven't written about it before. Maybe God was saving it for this time.
I remember being in college, studying under a degree in Missions. I'd wanted to be a missionary since the 3rd grade.
During that time, I found myself being told repeatedly (after a period of "talking" >> ugh, what does that even MEAN?) by guys that they just couldn't cope with my desire to go and be a missionary in a foreign country.
It was disheartening >> not that a guy would feel we weren't right together (trust me I broke up with my share of guys for no other reason than I knew he wasn't the one. Reason enough for me.) but that they would say it was because of God's calling on my life.
I felt like I had to choose.
I knew that I wasn't willing to compromise God's clear call on my life for a guy.
So, if I had to: I was choosing God. Period.
Side note: I remember back to when I was 18 or 19 and my college minister told us that "you'll be ready to be married when you're content being single." Basically, he was stressing that you have to find your worth in Christ alone, not in a relationship with a guy.
I was invited to go to Mexico on a mission trip, and to be really honest, I didn't want to go.
I really can't explain why, I just didn't. (of course I know now, in hindsight, that Satan was trying to keep me from going)
I went anyways, reluctantly.
I think I wanted to turn around and go home that entire 24 hour van ride to the border.
Of course I loved it from the first day, but I remember feeling pretty alone. I had gone with two friends who had been a few times before and we joined a large group of about 150 people from various churches in Alabama and Florida. The two friends I went with were so comfortable and knew what they were doing, who people were, etc. and I was left feeling a bit out of place and clueless.
Maybe that's why I clung to conversation at the first opportunity I got.
On the first day we crossed over into Mexico, I was walking up the steps to a church and I overheard three guys with thick country accents, talking about what the church sign said. I piped in and, long story short, ended up tagging along with their church group the rest of the week. *hint >> one of those guys was Wade!
(I'm going to leave that part of the story short because there are varying memories of the sequence of events here. I know I'm right, Wade. Bu that's another blog post for another time ;)
Throughout the week, Wade's brother, Q and their friend, Zach, kept making hints about what a great couple Wade and I would be and how I needed to come visit them in Alabama.
My response to this was to work it into conversation as Wade and I walked through Walmart one night that, "I don't date. I'm going to be a missionary."
And I left it at that.
We spent time together that week as a group and I think others began to see a relationship blooming that I was maybe refusing to see. Obviously, something was drawing us together. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't get butterflies when we both got up from the table at the same time to get jello from the Chinese buffet ;) Haha, oh gosh.
In spite of my serious serious reservations (because of past experiences and my fear of letting someone get in the way of my calling), we started to talk on the phone. Like, the day we left Mexico. And every day after >> except for one day when I told him I would call HIM and then didn't, on purpose. (again, me freaking out).
To be really honest, it probably wouldn't have worked out with any other guy but Wade. He was so straightforward and never played games. If he wanted to call, he did. No "three day rule". It helped me to be honest with him and tell him that I had plans to live in Africa for a year after I graduated college (6 months later) and that I wouldn't date him if he was going to ask me not to go. I was afraid that if he asked me not to, I wouldn't.
Well, to my surprise, he never did.
It took me a while to finally get over my fear, but I couldn't deny that God had given me this person and that I was falling in love with him.
It was 2 1/2 month after we met when I first thought the words, "I love you."
No way was I going to SAY it! Hello? He'd think I was crazy! Besides, I'd never said that to anyone before.
I remember, the day I realized it, we were talking on the phone and after he hung up I said it out loud for the first time. Even though he wasn't on the line anymore, I couldn't keep it in.
The very next day, Wade walked me to my car with an umbrella in the rain after a date. I got in the drivers seat when he kneeled down to my eye level and said, "Kerrie, I want to tell you something. Don't freak out, ok?"
Right then I just knew what he would say next. And I wasn't freaked out in the least.
"I love you."
"I love you, too!"
Of course I got out of the car, despite the pouring rain, and we kissed.
Then I called my mom. :)
While I was in Alabama visiting, I got the call from New York that my trip wasn't going to be happening. I was so upset. I didn't understand why God wasn't allowing me to go. And I tried my darndest (Bama word) to find another way. And again, that opportunity fell through as well.
I really didn't know what to do, so I just stayed. For one month I lived with his brother and sister in law and then I moved to his mom's where I lived for 10 months. None of this was planned, it just kind of happened.
After 11 months, I finally got an apartment. I knew Wade and I would get married and felt safe to put down some roots.
It was while I was in Mexico, leading a group on a mission trip, when I got a call from a stranger asking me if I wanted to go to Africa for a week.
You see, while I was gone, Wade had met a group selling necklaces to raise funds for their trip while he was at a baseball tournament and asked them if I could go.
I did go, and God showed me that He had indeed called me to Mexico, and not to Africa. At least not at that time.
When I came home from the trip to Africa that Wade proposed.
We have been married for almost 4 years now and have served together for longer than that, taking teams on mission trips both in Mexico and India. And this summer we will be moving to Mexico to live as missionaries full time.
I titled this post, "Having it all."
But guess what, being married isn't what made me have it all.
I have it all because I have Jesus.
I have a God who loves me and sees beyond my near-sighted vision.
A God who has a plan, a purpose, and calls me to trust Him to lead me in the right direction -- the one that glorifies Him the most.
His ways are above my ways, and His plans astonish me each day.
*Photos are from our early Valentine's Date day at Boneyard Beach in Jacksonville, Fl this past weekend.