Four years ago, my dream was to be an Interior Designer, start my own company, and become a self-made millionaire by the age of 30. I wanted a career that would provide a flexible schedule so that I wouldn’t miss my kids’ growing up years. (Can you tell I’m a planner/I like to live in the future?). I was an Interior Design major for all of three weeks. Suddenly my dream evaporated and I had nothing to look forward to.
For the first time I thought to ask God where He would like me to be. His clear answer was Business Management. It made sense – it certainly wasn’t one of those answers that leaves you pondering if God really knows you/what He’s talking about. I love organizing and planning and coordinating. I have natural leadership capabilities. Writing and editing business plans gives me a rush of adrenaline. Business Management/Entrepreneurship made complete sense. I rewrote my dream. Now, I wanted to be an Events Planner, start my own company, and become a self-made millionaire by the age of 30.
A year later, I was sitting at a conference in Denver when I distinctly heard God say to me, “You never asked me what I want you to do with your Management degree.” I hadn’t even considered that there might be another reason why he wanted me in this major. I apologized and started asking him to show me what His purpose was. That day, we were supposed to go out and serve the homeless and forgotten people in the city and I was terrified. My friends were terrified that they wouldn’t be able to handle the destitution they might find. I was terrified that everyone around me would be heartbroken and I wouldn’t care. I grew up in a third-world country – destitution didn’t faze me. Oh how wrong I was. That was the day God chose to take my heart of stone, break it, and begin to create a heart of flesh in its place. That was the day I first heard about the horrors of sex trafficking. That was the day I first heard about International Justice Mission and the work they do. That was the day I first wept for the women and children whose innocence is so cruelly stripped away. Unknown to me at the time, that day marked the beginning of a new life.
I decided I wasn’t going to rewrite my dream this time. I was going to let the one who knows the end of the story write it without my help. So I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. He told me through a stranger that He had big plans for me – plans that involved nations and a younger generation. But it wasn’t until 7 months later that he gave a dream to run a safehouse for victims of sex trafficking. I was simultaneously terrified and ecstatic. This new dream was so incredibly different from my previous dreams that I was certain it was God’s not mine. I pictured a large house in some impoverished nation that I lived in with my husband and biological children, as well as dozens of former street kids and trafficked children who would call me Momma C. No one would really know about us, except for the few hundred children that passed through our home until we were no more. This of course wouldn’t happen until I was 30 and a self-made millionaire so I could fund this little venture.
Turns out, that was my attempt to add my own narrative to the story He was writing. Almost a year ago, He began showing me that I had taken the dream into my own hands and made it far smaller than He intended. I’d made it more achievable, more me-sized. With a Management degree, a few years of work experience, money in the bank, and a studly husband by my side, of course I could safely start a safehouse. Well He wasn’t writing a safe story – He was writing a wildly miraculous story.
Today, I’m 12 days away from my college graduation. I am completely certain that the purpose of my Management degree was to give me the training to start my own company – a nonprofit that fights injustice and provides aftercare support for victims of trafficking. I’ve since learned that His purpose for me is larger than I can even comprehend – and that it includes more than just my future spouse and kids. Recently I told God that I would prefer to not start a safehouse until I was 30 like my original plan, but that if it was His will, I would do it now as long as He sent me people to do it with. I told Him I was terrified and I’d rather have a certain safe job in D.C. but if this was His plan I would be obedient.
In the weeks following this conversation with God, a stranger told me that even though I had no resources, she did and she knew people who had land and money and she was ready to help me start a safehouse. Someone else told me that they would come teach the kids English and be my part-time cook. Someone else trained as a sexual abuse counselor said she’d be willing to offer counseling for the girls. Someone else wrote a paper about sex trafficking, never recovered and wants to start a safehouse as well. Someone else offered to design the building. Someone else wants to provide the materials needed to build.
I never once told anyone I wanted to start a safehouse anytime soon nor did I ask anyone for help. I simply posted a blog entry about sex trafficking a month ago and nothing’s been the same since. I’m 22 and my friends and I are talking about starting a safehouse. That studly husband hasn’t shown up yet, I have no real work experience, and I am so terribly far from being a millionaire it’s painful. I feel unqualified, ill-prepared, too young, but I can’t deny the fire that burns in my heart whenever I think about this issue. Once again, my dream is being rewritten. This time it’s being blown up from me-sized to God-sized. I’m learning to dream dreams I can’t fulfill on my own and pray audacious prayers. And He’s showing me that when I choose faith over fear and dream God-sized dreams, He provides the people and the resources. All He requires is a willing, attentive heart and an active imagination. The moment I let go of my own plans and began to seek His, He started to show me the story He’s been writing over many years. This is the most peaceful, hopeful, restful yet the most wildly insane place. My generation will change the world and end modern-day slavery. This story will be beautiful.
Now excuse me while I go run around my house screaming in excitement and terror. Feel free to scream in excitement too.
“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.” 2 Samuel 22:21 & 25 (The Message).