I was raised on a musical diet of Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles and Credence Clearwater Revival. My dad spent many hours shuffling around the living room with us, crooning as he danced. I learned about hand-holding, imagining, and bad moons rising. I also learned how to dress, should one ever visit San Francisco:
And so it was, ten years ago today, that I boarded a plane with a flower in my hair and flew west with my new husband. We were literally flying into the sunset. I was surprised to find myself crying as the wheels touched down in San Francisco: this was it. The beginning of a new chapter. I adjusted my slightly wilted flower and greeted California with all the courage my jet lagged soul could muster.
We planned to stay for three years: get the PhD, in-n-out (<— see what I did there, Californian friends?)
“We can make our plans,” says Proverbs 16:9, “but the Lord determines our steps.”
We planned for 3 years, but as it turned out, PhDs take longer than you think, and I had much to learn about being married to a grad student.
We planned to find a small, evangelical, liturgical church like the one we had known and loved back home. Instead, we landed up being welcomed into a large, Baptist church.
We planned to stay connected to our community back home, and find our space back there after a “quick jaunt” overseas. Now, we have a box with invitations to more than 60 weddings Stateside in the past decade. We have witnessed births, deaths, marriages, and our threads are now woven into many places in this community’s tapestry.
We planned to return home and start our family in South Africa. Instead, we now have three American-born children, whom we send to public school, and whom we awkwardly instruct about American holidays.
I planned to return to vocational ministry. Instead, I’m stunned and simultaneously grateful to find myself as a stay-at-home Mom: a completely unexpected career path. And then there’s this writing thing, which I did NOT see coming but which, in hindsight, makes such sense.
He planned to pursue a career in academia. Instead, he’s happy in research… and darn good at it, too.
We planned to stay Proudly South African forever. And we still are proudly South African, but we have also accepted that we are now immigrants, and though we didn’t come with this intention, we are now applying for permanent residency.
We planned, but He Has Plans.
Today marks 10 years of our being here, and even though NOTHING has gone the way I planned it, I am filled with gratitude. I look around, and my life is unrecognizable from the way I pictured it would be when I was dreaming 20, 15 and even 10 years ago. This life I now live in suburban America is not at all what i imagined, and yet – if I dig a little deeper, while the form may be unrecognizable, the content has been the same all along:
for we love and are loved,
we have work to do wherever we are,
and no matter what – we are kept by a good and gracious God.
These things remain the same. And I am so very, very grateful.
photo credit: Bart “America” (flickr creative commons)