I was supposed to get married right after I graduated college.
At least, that was the plan. I was pretty confident I knew how it would all go down- meet someone my freshman year of college, start dating sophomore year, get engaged senior year, and get married not long after graduation. There was probably a white picket fence thrown in there, too.
But as my senior year approached, I realized that plan wasn't very likely. I mean, not to put God in a box, but it had been over a year since I'd even been on a date, so meeting someone and marrying them all within the next year seemed rather unlikely. I wrestled with this for a bit, mourned the loss of that dream, and then a new dream started to grow in my heart. As much of a homebody as I was, I started to dream about adventure. As I watched friends plan their post-graduation lives around serious boyfriends or fiances, I started to wonder what I could do and where I could go after graduation. I considered countless options, plead often with God for direction, and finally got an answer.
The call to go to New Orleans was the most direct, clear call I've ever felt. In my life, I've wrestled over many decisions, big and small- should I go to JMU? should I go home or stay out tonight? do I buy this shirt or save my money? - but the decision to go to New Orleans was simple. My heart had been invested in Hurricane Katrina relief work since my December '05 trip to Mississippi, and when I received that voicemail from the human resources director of Crusade saying, "Hey Rebecca, give me a call back. I think I know what God has for you next year," I knew something big was coming. After receiving the details about the opportunity to intern with Crusade, coordinating relief work in New Orleans, I gave the 'spiritual' answer of, "Let me have 24 hours to pray about it," but in reality, I knew immediately that this was God's answer. The only thing to pray about was a joyful overflowing that God had answered my prayers to use me and my unique giftings the following year.
So that was how the story of my post-college life began. God said, "Not now," to my desire for a husband and instead granted me an adventure I'd never dreamed of. He gave me the chance to become a capable adult, thousands of miles away from my family. Beautiful girlfriends and late night talks. The chance to heal from some wounds as I served a city that had some of its own healing to do. Culture... jazz music playing on the streets, local art, amazing architecture, and the MOST incredible food in the entire world. A one year internship turned into two, and by then I was hooked on New Orleans and decided to stick around for a while... which is a good thing, because as it turned out, the Lord did have marriage in my future- He just wanted to bring that husband to me outside of Virginia.
Almost exactly five years after moving to New Orleans, I left. I left a changed woman- quite literally. I had a new last name, a new confidence, and a new sense of style (thanks to some great girlfriends who refused to let me continue to buy clothes that were a size too big). I spent two years in Tampa, and then, 7 years after leaving, returned to Virginia.
Virginia is good and wonderful and I will write soon about all that life is now that I'm back, but I am so very grateful for the journey I've been on in-between. I'm glad that Jesus knew what I needed better than I did back when I was 18, and I'm thankful to be exactly where I am right now.