We left the Philippines about three weeks ago to fly home for my baby brother's wedding. I was in high school when my mom found out that a God had sent our family a little surprise. From the moment he was born, he became my baby. He came everywhere with me---even on my dates! So, I sat in the pew at the wedding prepared to have an emotional breakdown seeing my baby brother all grownup and married. I was so proud of the man he was growing up to be. But I didn't breakdown into a blubbering blob of tears that night.
Actually, it wasn't until I sat in that same church the following Sunday that the emotional meltdown happened. It was Mother's Day and our 18th wedding anniversary. The Mass had just begun when I realized that this was where it all began.
This was where I was baptized and made my First Communion. That was the altar where Travis and I promised to love, honor, and cherish each other all the days of our lives. That was the altar where our children were baptized and made their First Communions. Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church was where we had come each Sunday and many days in between for the "help" we needed to get through the week, the day, the moment...
As I began to think about the past 18 years, the good times and the bad times, the tears began to fill my eyes. It had been a very long and hard 18 years. We had had our share of bad times and worse times. We had struggled at times to just stay afloat. There were times when we thought we couldn't make it another day. But we had persevered through it all because of the promise we had made to each other before God 18 years ago on that very altar. And that was the altar that we had come to time and time again for the strength we needed to keep those promises.
And then it hit me... that altar is where our journey into mission life began 18 years ago when we dedicated our family to follow Christ. It was the promise we made to accept and bring our children up in the faith. It was the promise that we made to put Christ first in our marriage. It was the promise we made to follow Him. These promises that we made 18 years ago on that altar to each other and to God led us to where we are now---a Catholic missionary family living on the other side of the world.
And that's when it began---the emotional meltdown that I had been prepared for two nights before came full force. There is no way that 18 years ago we would have ever agreed to such a life of ourselves much less our (future) children. We probably wouldn't have even agreed to "follow Him" back then had we known where He would take us.
But the amazing part of it all is that He knew this of us. He knew that we weren't as "committed" to what we were promising as we imagined we were, but He still wanted us anyway. He wanted us in our immaturity, our selfishness, our materialism, our stubbornness, and with our tiniest morsel of faith.
He would send us the trials we needed to grow more dependent on Him. He sent us the good times that we needed to keep going beyond the bad times. He spend 18 years molding us into who He needs us to be right now, and He will spend the next two years molding us into who we need to be beyond the mission field. More importantly, He will use the rest of our Earthly lives molding us into who He meant us to be from the moment He created us.