What happens to change a person from the beginning of the year to the end of it?
The changes are like the changes of the seasons, so natural as to be imperceptible. First the red buds on bare branches; then one day you notice the palest of green; and then the busyness of days overtakes you, and when you remember to look again, the tree is bushy and green.
Thursday, I celebrated the end of a school year with my students and the church families. The picture we took on the last day of school showed them taller, their faces older, than the one we took on the first day. Kaity can barely fit into her desk anymore.
I also have changed.
My growth is not outwardly visibly, but here is how I classify it:
A year ago, if you had asked, I think I would have told you that my goal in life was to write, to make myself as skilled and successful at writing as was possible for me to be. I also wanted to be a missionary.
Now, if you ask what I want, I will tell you that I want to be a missionary, to seek out real people with real breath and hurts and dreams and minister to them. I also want to write.
The change may seem slight, a matter of priorities only, but priorities are the keystone of a life. Everything else builds on this: the thing you most want out of life.
You can’t have it all.
Maybe that is part of the change that has happened to me: the realizing that you can’t have everything, every dream, in one small life. You take one, you miss the rest.
My parents might have had an easier life and a bit more money if they’d had two children instead of eight, but they chose the children. Now they have day after day of hard work, a passel of children and grandchildren who think the world of them, weariness and worry and joy and love, and not much else.
Do you think it was worth it? It’s what they wanted, or at least they’re not admitting to anything else.
I guess living around them day after day influenced my priorities. Someone lives to serve you; it makes you want to serve others.
Another thing that must have influenced me are the many discussions and arguments I’ve had over the past year or two with a non-Christian friend. The discussions have done something for me: they’ve challenged me to defend my beliefs, helped me to think through important issues, and propelled me into deciding just what it is I want out of life. The Lord knows I may appear innocent on the outside, but I’m stubborn beneath, and there’s nothing like a bit of friction to bring me clarity.
And maybe the changes are also part of a natural growth process. You spend a year’s worth of time around Jesus, you get to caring about other people a bit more, your own dreams and ambitions a bit less.
Near the end of June, I plan to go to Ontario under Northern Youth Programs and participate in six weeks of personal workers training camp. I will receive a week of in-camp training before being flown with one other team member into a remote northern village to work and relate to people from a First Nations community.
I am excited: learning a new culture, learning to be a missionary, the plain fun adventure of it. I come back in the fall for another year of teaching school and of getting my book published (I’ll tell you about that in another post), and after that we shall see.
The world awaits.
I’m going to be a missionary.