Expect the Unexpected

First Sunset

It would be a lie to tell you that the life of a missionary is one where you constantly feel like you are living how God has called you to live.

I know…”Wow, what an uplifting way to start this!” Hang in there with me, I promise it gets better. 🙂

Almost exactly one year ago, my heart was just about to burst from the excitement of all that was to come as my journey of missionary service in Tijuana, Mexico rapidly approached.

I remember feeling literally all of the things—nervousness, joy, fear, eagerness, doubt (wait, should I have done a 6th year of college instead of only 5?), and every other emotion you can possibly imagine. But mostly there was this overwhelming anticipation of the unknown, partnered with the expectation that somehow everything was about to fall perfectly into place.

Life was beautiful and messy in those moments. There were circumstances that I was more than ready to step out of, but I also desperately wanted to cling on to all of the love and comfort I was surrounded with by my family, friends, and community. I was the most assorted box of crayons you’ve ever seen; one moment I could be dandelion yellow absolutely glowing with excitement about the changes to come, and the next I could be midnight blue, shedding tears over a cup of coffee with my friends at the mere thought of leaving everything behind.

And all the while, my heart and mind were both incredibly in synch—I truly felt called to the place that I was going…and I knew that if I sincerely wanted to continue seeking, listening, and responding to God’s call in my life, then I had to go.

Now, in the blink of an eye, I am fully one year in. And as I sit here reminiscing on all that has happened in the last 365+ days, and daydreaming about the ones that await ahead…I can wholeheartedly and honestly tell you that life is just as beautiful and messy now as it was exactly a year ago (if not even more so).

In the last year, I have been seriously discouraged, deeply challenged, filled with anxiety, questioned humanity, and doubted God. My heart has ached for innumerable people, my mind has been exhausted from pondering seemingly unanswerable questions, and nearly every single day I ask myself if what I am doing is actually even making a smidge of a difference. (I didn’t exactly predict that the missionary life was a magnet for these types of things, but it indeed is).

And then I remember this:

In the past year, I have experienced grace, been drenched in peace, extended forgiveness, found hope amidst chaos, and encountered joy in the most broken of places. I have been welcomed in foreign land, opened myself to countless people and different ideas, and have gained new brothers and sisters. I have seen how God moves in and through us with everything we do…as I have felt, decided, thought, believed, questioned, dwelled, and pursued.

I have come to learn that saying yes to being an active citizen in the kingdom of God means you’re going to get your hands dirty, your heart broken, your understanding undone, and your expectations leveled. And it will be more than worth it.

With that, I would like to share one of the simplest, yet arguably most powerful, string of words that has ever resonated in my life. The following was said to my GMF class at our commissioning ceremony:

“The same God who is here with you now, is the same God who is waiting for you where you are going.”

Regardless of where I am, what I am expecting, or what I am waiting for…these words, time and time again, have grounded, humbled, and encouraged me. They are as genuine now as they were a year ago, and I have treasured them deeply as a constant, gentle, and true reminder that through it ALL, God is with us.

Celeste CatonCaton_Celeste

Iglesia Metodista de Mexico, Tijuana, Mexico

GMF International, Class 2014



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