Make-up. Costume. Curtains. Lights. Home for me used to be on the theatre stage. Typing this right now I can almost feel the excitement of opening night. The smell of the make-up, so thick yet fresh. The newness of a stiff costume. The fresh paint smell of the sets. The constant thrumming of butterflies in my stomach. Right before the lights came up I would pace back and forth and pray, I was a bundle of nerves. Then my first scene would come and it was like new blood rushing through my veins. I was transported to the setting of the play. I WAS that character. I’m not going to be modest here, for it seems appropriate to tell the truth with out trying to be: I was good. I was really good. God gave me a great gift for theatre performance. I loved it. Then one day it ended.
It was summer 2006, my graduating year from college. I just earned a theatre performance degree from Francis Marion University. God had placed a restlessness in me and John’s hearts to move away from the small town of Hartsville, SC. We knew we were not going to stay, but where were we going to go? John and I talked about it and thought that maybe I should pursue my masters degree in theatre performance. I was so thrilled. It was the perfect time. We were young and did not have kids. As the planning and preparations began, something did not feel right. But what? Oh how I wanted it to work out! But I prayed this prayer, “Lord, I want to do want you want us to do. But I can’t make this decision on my own, I am too weak. Open and close the doors. You know the desires of my heart but I want it to be your desire as well.”
That summer God changed the plan. John went away on a mission trip for two weeks and I was left by myself to pray. I did. Then, my sister- in- law and I began to e-mail back and forth. She was a missionary in the Middle East. Somehow during those few e-mails, God changed my heart. You see, I always had a heart for missions but never thought I’d be a missionary FOR REAL. Then John came back and said he was praying and he felt like God was leading us to be missionaries. The realization struck that this is what the Lord wanted us to do. My dream for myself died. At first, I did not notice it. It was replaced with a new dream for my life, God’s dream, a better dream soon to become a reality. As the application process went into full gear I reflected on what I was giving up. It hurt. It stung the back of my eyes and came out in a flow of tears one day while packing up our things from our beautiful three bedroom house. I missed it. I mourned it.
Why is this coming up now? For some reason, the mourning has come back. For the past month I’ve been thinking of my days on the stage, the talent I had and the dream I had. In the worlds eyes, I gave up on my dream. In God’s eyes I sacrificed it for Him. I am not upset or angry that I did. I’m glad I did. I died to myself that day in a way. But I still miss the smells and the excitement. It does not mean I’ll never get it back, someday I may. BUT, someday I may not. I was reading the afterword of a book called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers this is what she said after explaining how she came to know Christ and what happened after:
The first thing that happened was that I couldn’t write. Oh I tried, but it did not feel right. Writing just did not work for me anymore. I couldn’t escape into it. I had given myself to the Lord, and He had something else in mind. I finally excepted that it might not be in his plan for me to ever write again. And I surrendered. What I came to understand was that He wanted me to get to know Him first. He wanted no other Gods in my life – not my family, not my writing. Nothing.
Her words struck me, I could have written that about myself and acting. God has asked me to lay it aside for this time so I can get to know Him better. I wish that I could paint this beautiful picture of myself to you about how I’m a missionary with a flowing skirt waving in the wind always with a bible in hand. This picture makes me chuckle. I’m human, and I have so much growth to do. I yearn to be like the Lord and yet I fail daily. I need this time away from acting to concentrate on God. It may be that I still have something to learn, it may be that God just wants to see that I will continue to give it to Him. And I will. Why? Because I have sampled disobedience, and it’s very bitter. I am happy to walk this new dream God has for me. And what an adventure it is!
Many others dreams died the day we decided to go on the mission field. John’s dream of computer programming in the states and keeping up-to-date on technology, our parents dream of having grandchildren near, the dreams our siblings had of us all getting together for holidays and special vacations, my best friend and sister Tammy’s dream of raising our children together. When one decides to be a missionary it effects many. Through it all I can see God’s hand. I can understand why He planned it the way He did. It still does not make it easy. But it does make it WORTH IT.