The most uncomfortable place for me to be is the pit of nothingness at the bottom of the hill of failed expectations below a big, ugly, closed door. The place where our three-year plan all of a sudden dissolves and we’re left scrambling for a three-month plan. Since October of 2014, Bub and I have been pursuing a two-year commitment on a ship with Operation Mobilization (OM). The Logos Hope is a 400-passenger vessel that sails from port to port around the world as a literature-based ministry, bringing encouragement and hope in the name of Jesus wherever they land. But that plan was officially cancelled as of last month. I wanted this blog to eventually be a place for travel adventure updates…because how cool would a missionary ship-living family blog be?! But with that plan dashed on the rocks of rejection, here I am to bring closure to my dreams.
Half of my husband’s childhood was spent in North Africa, where his family worked in earthquake relief for the Berber people. My late teenage years and early 20s were full of foreign travel and I developed a love for learning languages and building relationships in different cultures. Both of us entered marriage knowing that life overseas would be a part of our lives in some capacity. There has been no question about it. So after leading two short-term trips to North Africa in our first two summers as husband and wife, we decided to pursue something more long term.
Bub was immediately drawn to the ship ministry. OM is a familiar organization to our family and the ship would give Bub a chance to grow in his skills and experience as a diesel mechanic. There would also be plenty of opportunity for me to put my customer service and language-learning skills to good use. It seemed like the perfect fit! So the fall after our two-year anniversary, we began the application process for a two-year commitment on board the Logos Hope.
I was so excited, man. During those months of application, I looked back on my amazing single years when I was able to travel and do crazy things, and now I was beside myself thinking about how AWESOME Bub and I would be as a childless overseas missionary couple. “WE’RE SO PERFECT, Lord! OM will want us so bad!” But O, how God probably chuckled at this before dishing out some humble ham.
I got pregnant. I took two tests and waited a full day before telling Bub. I was more nervous about disappointing his desire to join OM than I was excited to tell him he was going to be a father. I cried and cried and was so confused I could hardly pray about it. But of course, he was so happy! We cried and prayed together, and then told our OM representative before we told our parents. Long story short, we decided to put a hold on our application until our baby was six months old. But we were still going for it, believing God just wanted us to join as a family of three instead of a family of two.
Well, if you’ve kept up with my mom life, you’ll know it hasn’t been super easy for me. But by the time Naomi was four months, I felt strong enough to pursue OM again. Bub contacted our rep, and she sent us the next steps.
Well…fast forward another four months, after a background check, two online personality tests, multiple application forms, forms for our pastor, forms for our character references, two individual skype interviews, and one couple skype interview, they decided they weren’t sure if overseas ministry was the right fit for us and asked us to spend $360 to take a six-hour-long psychological evaluation before they were ready to give us an answer.
Now, my thoughts on missionary organizations using psychology tests to determine God’s call on a couple’s life and whether or not they are fit for ministry, is a discussion for another time. But after emailing our rep and asking for a better explanation and praying about it with our family, we decided to go through the process regardless of how ridiculous it felt. So we took the bubble test, answering true or false to statements determining our psychological stability and mental makeup (like whether or not we were suicidal or pedophiles). After two more skype interviews with a psychologist and our OM rep to discuss our results, they made their decision: I am too depressed and Bub is too introverted, and we need one full year of professional counseling before they re-evaluate whether or not we are fit for overseas ministry.
Excuse me, what? The first six weeks of my baby’s life were hard for me and I was a mess, sure…but give me a break. And since when is there a scale for introversive personalities? Pretty sure Paul of Tarsus would have flunked your test, sir. And what do you want…perfect people for a risk-free ministry? NOT POSSIBLE.
Golly. So we told them we were done putting our lives on hold for a maybe, and we were not interested in waiting a total of three years for a two-year commitment.
Many of you will be thinking, “Um, I totally agree with OM and those tests are where it’s at, and who do you people think you are?” And ok, whatever, you have opinions.
But we feel confident before the Lord that professional psychologists are not what we need. We feel confident that committing to waiting for this ministry is not what we should do. We feel confident in saying, “Nope. Thank you. It’s been educational, goodbye” and we feel confident in pursuing other ways to actively follow Christ. Right now, it’s at home in “normal life.” Someday, it might be far away where we start a new normal life. Because following Christ should be normal to us who claim faith in Christ.
Practically, though…I just really like to know what we’re doing in life. Leaving our friends and family for two years on board a SHIP was starting to scare me, sure…but at least it was a plan! At least I could just go along with the ride! I’d rather be forced into a scary, known future than stuck sailing in a comfortable, ambiguous one. But we all get stretched differently, don’t we?
I’m thankful God gave me a man who always looks for a plan, and doesn’t wait for a call before starting to walk. And I’m thankful for a sovereign God who leads us and guides us no matter what.
So there you go. I plan to continue writing here and there, but instead of rad travel adventures, you might be stuck with more stay-at-home-mom thoughts. So, deal. xxxoo