It all seemed so clear…until it didn’t anymore. I had a vision and a plan and I believed it was all from God. As circumstances lined up, I became even more assured that it must be true.
I hear it all the time when something unexplainably good happens: “It was such a God thing.” It’s our way of saying, God ordained this; it must have been the will of the Lord. That’s why it all worked out, right?
But then, it doesn’t work out. Something that seemed so clear gets fuzzy. Dreams die. Plans change. Life smacks us around and derails what looked like a path set out for us. Wasn’t that God’s plan, too? Could our detours and our suffering be part of the perfect plan for us? We don’t like to claim that one.
I remember it like yesterday, a conversation that seemed innocent enough; not like one that would change my entire life. I had stopped by an old friend’s house to meet him for lunch. We had known each other since middle school and went to the same church as teenagers. We had reconnected in the past few weeks when we both moved back to our hometown after college. When his dad walked into the kitchen he reacted the way most people did upon hearing my plans. “What can we do to keep you from moving to India?” he said.
I raised my head with the confidence of someone following the way intended by God alone. “Nothing,” I insisted, “I am going.”
I had followed the breadcrumbs that led me to this place of kismet. I knew in my bones since college I would live in a foreign land but I wasn’t sure where. I chased that dream to seminary to get a stronger foundation under my feet before I launched out into the world.
I met a visiting lecturer who talked about his work in Northern India. He was supporting local artists who were seeing Hindus and Christians work together to create amazing art. I jumped at the opening to use my dance training and my faith together. When I started studying classical Indian dance, I became infatuated with all things Indian culture. I devoured the food, Bollywood movies, and the thumping bhangra beats.
I felt elegant in my sari the night of my first Bharata Natyam performance. My teacher said I took to the dance style so naturally I must have been a temple dancer in a past life. I found a job in which I could study dance in India and build relationships with college students in a big city. Clearly, this was a God thing.
Until…I fell quickly and madly in love with that old friend I said I was having a harmless lunch with. I weighed this perfect vision I had of what my life should look like with what also seemed like a perfect fit between the two of us. Wait, was I wrong? How could two paths be the right ones? Was India all my dream and not God’s?...
It wasn't any secret when we met that I have a mind of my own and a will that is as strong as iron. We had barely begun when you said goodbye to me at the gate and trusted in our new love to carry us through months spent continents apart. A year into our marriage there was another month spent in which I said my "I love yous" through emails sent from internet cafes a world away.
You never once complained but rather gave wings to my dreams. I couldn't have gone had I not known you were the home I would return to.
My love for the big wide world is as much a part of me as my love for you. I cannot separate the two any more than bone and marrow. There is nothing I love more than when we get to explore it together.
My hair has faded over the years from a fiery red to more muted tones but the stereotypical fire of a redhead in me hasn't faded one bit. I walk the fine line between wanting so badly to please everyone and being just rebellious enough to let others know I won't fit into a mold they have defined for me. And you never seem to mind, either my stubbornness and strong will or my anxiety over what others think. I don't know how you do it, but you always make me feel like I am doing just the right thing and that you will love me no matter what.
Not a day goes by that I don't wonder how your quiet strength and my wandering spirit find such a fit in each other. Continue Reading