Quite a lot of things, actually. But one of those things is what makes you light up inside. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t let the drudgery of life make you forget.
An Enlightening Conversation
Last week, on a flight from Manila to Seoul, I had a life-changing conversation. The kind of conversation that you can’t schedule or possibly see coming. It just slips up from behind and takes you by surprise.
It started innocently enough. So tell me your life story. I don’t hear conversation openers that broad and blunt all that often, but I love deep conversations, so I didn’t think much of it at first.
But it was the way she looked me straight in the eye at certain moments and so confidently and matter-of-factly made statements that had never occurred to me, but which struck the very core of me, that floored me. Her words hit on the hidden desires of my heart and uncovered them.
One of the major things I learned when I first moved to Korea 2 years ago was how to dream big. During that amazing season I had the life-changing epiphany that I was made for big things.
I had never been very ambitious up to that point. But actually, I’m still not all that “ambitious,” it was more than that. I had been wary of expecting too much out of life; I just tried to be content. The only thing I really, really wanted was to get married. I never openly acknowledged this to myself, but in the back of my mind, I had this idea that I just wanted to lead a good enough life to deserve a really great husband. That was the only real ambition I had.
(In His mercy, God therefore kept romantic relationships out of my life, so that I would end up following my dreams––like coming to Korea––there being nothing else more pressing to pursue..)
When God told me 2 years ago that He had BIG plans for me, assignments only I could do, roles He had set apart for me that had nothing to do with getting married or having a husband, it really blew my mind.
But strangely enough, I also learned in that season how to have bigger dreams for my marriage. As I let that desire fall out of the center of my hopes, I gained much more clarity about what it was I desired in my marriage and I gained much more confidence that it was in fact coming. (Interesting how that works..)
Anyway, during this conversation, I realized I had forgotten about all that. I had forgotten how to dream big. I had forgotten that I was made for big things.
Digging, not Dreaming
Several months ago, someone prayed a vision over me that has stuck with me. She said, “I see you digging and digging down into the dirt.” (I immediately started crying. It had been a rough season.) “But you’re not digging without purpose. You can’t see it, but there is a huge, rushing river under the ground that you are digging down to. You are going to reap great rewards that you can’t even picture right now.”
I’ve often thought back to that vision. And I’ve often asked myself what the rewards could possibly be. Not in greediness or impatience, but out of pure confusion.
I couldn’t think of what kind of reward I would even want. I don’t care much about money or fame or whatnot. The idea of marriage occurred to me, but didn’t seem to fit. (That’s going to be a wonderful gift God gives me, but not a reward for anything.. right?) Now I realize that as I questioned what the reward could be, I was also questioning whether God knew how to reward me well.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve given up everything to be here living this life in Korea. In a sense, I have. I’ve given up being near my family (whom I love dearly). I’ve given up being understood by those closest to me back home. And I’ve given up the greatest passion of my life, classical piano.
Sometimes I ask myself why. Why am I here in Korea? Why am I living so far away from home, in so much uncertainty about my future when I could book a plane ticket for Baltimore tomorrow and return to my loving family and to a network of opportunities to teach and perform in the field I love?
You know what God always says?
Because you followed Me here.
I usually break down at that response, because He’s right. He’s worth all of it to me.
Then He reminds me of all the wonderful things I have in my life here. He reminds me of that longing I always had (far, far back in the recesses of my heart) to live a life of adventure, to live a life that really counted for something. I am basically living the missionary life that always secretly appealed to me––a life fully sold out for God, fully focused on His Kingdom.
And then He tells me crazy things like, “I want to give you the desires of your heart.”
The Desires of My Heart
On the plane, I told my friend that I had had a recent epiphany that maybe the reward I was digging down to was that I would become an excellent teacher. That is something that would actually mean something to me! It made sense, because––but in the middle of my rambles, she interrupted me.
“Just from what you’ve been saying, it seems like teaching is more of an obligation to you. Your eyes didn’t light up when you talked about it like they did when you talked about performing. What if that performing thing was your reward?”
I spontaneously burst into tears.
To top it off, she encouraged me about my marriage, too. As I was again rambling, this time about how deeply I desire to get married, but how the thought makes me sad at the same time because I will be starting a new life so far away from my family, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Your family is going to really like your husband.”
I hadn’t even realized I was carrying that insecurity, but she hit the nail on the head. And I knew it wasn’t just ordinary encouragement either; I felt God’s authority behind her words. So I decided to just believe them.
It seems like common sense to not forget basic things like who you are, what you love, and how good God is, but among the multitude of thoughts in my head, these important truths somehow fall out. I’m so thankful that God never tires of reminding me of them. Even when I have no clue what I want or what would make me happy, He knows.