Nice to be back in the United States following an amazing year in Xi'An, China, teaching graduate students.
Happy for the green and clean but thought it would be cool: Indianapolis is having some high temperatures this week! And, it's hard to describe the way a colorful culture (China) that is SO different grips your heart and imagination. Nostalgia time! Sure, there were challenges, but the people were second-to-none, and I miss them. So, truthfully, I'm not sure how a man fits into the long-term picture. That's always been my desire -- to be part of a growing, giving marriage, where two with a miraculous, God-ordained connection are able to encourage each other spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and artistically. Although my age might seem "old" (hey -- some of you guys are a LOT older! smile), I would still want children if at all possible, adopting if we could not have them.
I believe getting married and having a family is the most godly thing a single person can do. I believe God created this venue to meet multiple needs, not only personally, but also to carry out discipleship, raise up a remnant and ultimately, reach the world for Christ. For me, this is "vision. " Finding a western man with a missionary call, or a heart for the world, or at least a yearning for some place in the world outside himself, limits the scope. The point isn't adventure -- although being willing to "throw your life away" literally WHEREVER God calls you to be, is the most fun you can ever have -- but surrender.
Ninety-nine percent of the guys who read this will immediately feel defensive and give the old comeback, "Well, you don't have to go overseas to serve the Lord. "I agree. In part. However, having tried some years in the United States (my parents were American missionaries and I was in large part raised overseas), I now feel that statement misses the point. You don't have to go overseas -- you don't have to be a part of missions or God's plan for all the peoples of the world. But, boy, do you miss out.
Many even feel they cannot go overseas -- and this is how I felt before I finally began to lay down my hurts and worries enough to consider missions again (after 15 years), and God opened the door to China. Just a tiny mustard-seed kernel of willingness, and God did everything else. He made me desire it and then love it. He gave me wonderful friends there from all cultures and phenomenal students. All he needed was the "Yes. "The point is: a person never knows the best that God can do until he lays down every reserve and objection. After he does that, it is only then that he sees how paltry his previous objections were, like chaff in the wind, and how, everything he thought he knew and was sure of, isn't necessarily so.
In going to China, the main person who benefitted was me. I hoped no more than that it would be "all right" or "pretty good. " For me, after a few pretty tough years in the States, that would have been good enough. What I could not have anticipated was how much BETTER than that it was.
One little example: When I visited China 15 years earlier, the rice in the lunches on the train had rocks in them, so I thought all of the rice would have little rocks. I had not expected fabulous food (eat their sweet and sour pork and you'll never eat it Stateside again, smile. ) Sure, China had was smoking and spitting and dirt (as do many developing countries: China's good compared to India!), but there was also modern life mixed with 1000-year-old history/culture, a sense of freedom in simplicity and, more than anything, the warmth and love of the people.
I guess my point isn't "overseas" or "non-overseas" (for I feel I could live almost anywhere) (although I would very much like it to be Asia), but -- instead of fixed choices -- a HEART that's already faced the worst, that has tried out conditional surrender and was finally forced to total surrender, and who has come out of the water on a hot day realizing that water that looked cold is in fact WET and GLORIOUS and now: "What was it I was so afraid of?" Maybe like we'll feel in heaven. All this said, I am not "super-spiritual" -- I'm very imperfect -- but attempting to live a godly life. Godliness is certainly inward and includes many things, such as having a heart that yearns after God and goodness, possessing some fruits of the Spirit (kindness, patience, etc. ), being filled with real faith in God, knowing the power of God, understanding the priority of prayer, a love for the Word, a love for people.
I would like someone who is willing and able to share his faith, not in a pushy or forceful way, nor every time he meets a nonbeliever, but as the Lord leads. That is a kind of death/surrender. I'd like someone involved in a body of believers of a weekly basis. I also need someone who, like me, does not smoke or drink at all (while many in America's church do not see a problem with drinking, my experience as a former newspaper reporter showed me a very different reality. ) Because my experience with American men has again and again revealed people who not only are unable to set boundaries with physical relationships, but appear to expect all manner of contact that is inappropriate for a Christian prior to marriage, I will say up front that I need someone who is willing to wait until marriage -- even to kiss. (I am no prude, but it has taken years for me to realize my need for this boundary so that I might stay pure for marriage. I now realize that anything else leads to indescribable hurt and a feeling of being cheated, for God didn't make us to give ourselves again and again to people we will not marry. )
Well. God has done some healing in my life, after a marriage engagement that didn't work out (1998) and relationships sometimes very far from God's plan. While the healing goes on forever until heaven, I think I'm readier now. For some time, I wasn't.
My main point for including the above traits (for I'm generally creative and I hate lists) is simply because China awoke me to something I saw at first, but became de-sensitized to, living in the U. S. It is so true that many people want to be Christians and think of themselves as Christians here. Far fewer are willing to actually GIVE UP anything for their faith. It's the difference between salvation and Lordship. I really need a life partner who has settled the Lordship issue. Here's why: while our churches preach on God's grace and love (both important messages), it takes living in China to see a faith that can withstand persecution, imprisonment and social demotion. On my last Sunday in Xi'An, I had the chance to visit a Chinese church; I LOVE what the pastor said. As hundreds upon hundreds of people crammed tightly on to wooden benches and hundreds more sat out in an outdoor corridor listening to the sermon by loudspeaker, I rejoiced at the words: "We're here today to talk about JESUS. " Later, the same pastor, after preaching on Enoch's walk with God for 300 years and then just being TAKEN away, said this: "There are many sacrifices (demands) to being a Christian. And we need to meet all of them. " Imagine that being preached to a western congregation! (Smile. )
But which is real Christianity? Those believers don't expect God to do anything FOR THEM financially and materially. They rather realize their place with God. And in return, he gives them amazing boldness and JOY. While I respect other people's right to choose what they want for their lives, being overseas helped remind me of the person I once was and grew up to be. While others may not feel any obligation/desire to live in a way that is distinctive from the world, I do. What this looks like, I'm not sure. Humanly, I see the beauty of a nice house (although I'm able to make any place I live look like a home); spiritually, I see where some American's homes become their whole focus, priority and lives.
Humanly, I want a "partner. " Godliness at home can perhaps be translated into two qualities: the ability to throw in a load of laundry (and move it on!) and to mow the lawn when needed. (If you can wipe counters, you're a man in a million and let's get married RIGHT NOW. Joking!)But in the last year, I've begun to realize there could be reasons I am not married beyond the ones I have always thought. If I'm called to missions, God could have very strong opinions about who I should marry! I am open to wherever the Lord leads (and for 15 years, tried to be open to living only in the United States. ) This past year I see something new: my real desire has always been to be married AND helping people overseas. Some people may have wonderful outreaches to foreigners inside America. To me, I'm not sure that would ever be the same as the experience I lived this year.
China is an exciting place, a wonderful place. It is my hope to return there. Meanwhile, I am in the United States for a year (hopefully not more than two), shoring up the areas of my life that would make it possible to return to missions long-haul. Interesting, that singleness was one of the largest factors that kept me from returning to the mission field. I didn't want to go alone. However, in a sense, God called my bluff. I never met Mr. Right here. It's hard to communicate how very much I would want marriage to the right man -- God's man -- but at the same time, find myself no longer willing to settle for cheap substitutes or second-bests.
Many guys I have spoken with are surprised by me. They do not really believe it is possible to meet someone online. I do. For the right person, I am willing to correspond at length with a view to seeing if it can really work. While writing and speaking by phone cannot stand in for the real thing -- being with someone -- as an initial meeting point -- I find it helps me see quickly who has at least some things in common, or not very much at all. Blessings, and thanks for reading my profile. Linda