Ah, this is the question that, in part, led us to serving as missionaries in Malaysia. We were just fine where we were – a beautiful congregation that we co-led as pastors, hopes of Eric finding adjunct teaching in the tri-state area, kids in a great school, financial stability, and a great Y and public library. It was the American dream. (Yes, our garden even had a picket fence.)
But as happy as we were, it still wasn’t *our* dream. Our dream has always been to serve abroad. For Eric’s Ph.D program we tried to move to South Africa, because we felt this strong pull to moving outside of America. Nothing against America – but I know that I’ve always wanted to see how others outside of America experience life, and to see their perspectives on the life I’ve assumed as “normal.” But South Africa didn’t work out (in part because I was pregnant, and my mother put her foot down that “my grandbabies WILL be born in an American hospital” … and there are times when you don’t mess with a fierce Mama Bear.) Our plans would have to wait, and we mostly thought they were gone, and that was okay.
Until this opportunity in Malaysia opened up. This time we had Mom’s permission! (Thanks mostly to Skype and Air Asia.)
In coming here, we had to ask ourselves about our potential memories. We were giving up Little League and youth group pizza nights and a house that we had named. (Blueberry Cottage, if you’re asking.) We were giving up a place where dogs are vaccinated for rabies and vehicle emissions are controlled – those certainly help toward creating memories, though they’re often unnoticed. We were bartering those memories in order to come here – and we were certainly deciding a lot for our kids without their voice or consent.
But under it all, we decided that the biggest and defining memory for our kids would be them watching us follow our passion. That hope goes for all who had to grieve at our leaving – our family, friends, congregation and colleagues, and even our kids’ friends. We bartered their memories as well, and that is no small thing. But I fervently hope that people who have lost track of those specific dreams might have a door or window opened by knowing that people can indeed follow their passion – whatever that passion may be for them.
This question asks us to balance our todays and our tomorrows, as well as the things that give us satisfaction now versus what we will look back on someday. This question reminds us that we are always defining our future and that we have a say in what not only our future will be, but the future of those tied to us. It reminds us that we are always negotiating, always finding our way. This question reduces our complacency, and replaces it with verve.