Hey Jack, I have been ...

Hope asked:

Hey Jack, I have been involved with a guy for about a year and he is getting to a point where he wants to make more of a commitment and move forward. I think we are great together and I love him dearly. The struggle we have run into is he wants to do missions work…not a big deal if it was to travel here or there, and do missions, but he wants to make a life in crazy places and unknown living situations. That is scary to me with the idea of wanting to start a family !! We are trying to find a “balance,” but the fear is either resentment later or me living somewhere for him and hating everyday or vise versa. There is more history there that would help clarify my question more, but a little too much to get into right now :)

Jack Answered:

Thanks, Hope, for your frank question. I wish we had an afternoon to explore all that is in your heart, including the “history” that might clarify things a bit. On the basis of what you have written, however, let me share some thoughts and then a personal testimony.

1) I congratulate you for being attracted to a guy who loves Jesus enough to follow His call to serve Him in difficult places. 2) I also congratulate you in recognizing that it is not enough to get involved in missions just because someone you love has this call. Primitive mission conditions are not for everyone. Cross-cultural missions in any place will bring culture shock, suffering, rejection, loneliness, etc. as well as unique opportunities for service. Just as you have anticipated, if you don’t have your own call, when you face these difficulties – especially as a young mother with small children and all the complications (as well as blessings) they bring – you will easily experience resentment, etc. 3) Far better to face things squarely right now, and not later when you are either engaged or married. My surprise is that your boyfriend hasn’t cleared with you your own missionary call before moving along in the level of commitment. However, I do recognize the power of attraction and love, and these emotions can fuzzy up our otherwise clear eyed responses. Our Mission will not accept a couple unless they both clearly express a definite and personal missionary call. 4) Bottom line: I think you need to seek the Lord quite seriously, including a personal retreat when you ask the Lord frankly about what His future call is on your life: marrying your boyfriend and missions, or not. It would be helpful for you to discuss all this with a mature Christian counselor and / or friends who know you and can ask the hard questions. Get close friends to pray for you. For your boyfriend’s sake, let him know your dilemma, and set a date when you will make a decision. Don’t be in a hurry. There are few decisions as important as this one.

Now my personal testimony. I met a girl as a freshman in college who swept me off my feet the first time I laid eyes on her. In short, I was smitten. At the end of the first year, I told her that I was falling in love with her, and that if we continued on in our relationship undoubtedly I would ask her to marry me. However, I was stymied since though both of us were interested in missions, she was studying pre-med and I didn’t feel that marrying a doctor would help us form a team in the calling I felt I had received from the Lord. I knew that this was a huge decision so I gave her a full year to think and pray about it.

She did so. We continued to see each other, but we decided we would also see others, and would not consider ourselves engaged or uniquely committed to each other until she had made her decision. Needless to say, this was not an easy year for me, and I did a lot of praying! So did she. It was a precious time of seeking the Lord, asking Him whether He wanted her to get married, and how He wanted her to use her life and her gifts. I was blessed when she announced at the end of the year that the Lord has led her to be married, and to marry me.

Thus, she changed her major from pre-med to nursing, and three years later we were married. Last year we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We are both content that she did not pursue medicine, though her professors were shocked and felt that the medical field lost a great doctor! She recognizes now that her gifts lie more in the areas of teaching and counseling which she has developed with great joy and effectiveness.

All of our lives are different, but I think there are some principles that I’ve mentioned which can be a help to you.

May the Lord guide the both of you to His appointment.

Jack

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