When my husband and I started dating, we discussed the three M's: Master (who would rule your life), Mate (who you would spend your life with), and Mission (what you would do with your life). It was a given that our Master (God) would come first in our lives, but the number-two spot was up for grabs. Do you pick your life partner first and then go on your life mission with him or her, or do you figure out your life mission and then find a life partner walking along the same path? Of course, we make plans, but God directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). I wasn't sure what God wanted me to do with my life, but I knew my husband was a good man who loved God, so I gave Mate the respectable number-two spot and married him.
My married life was not defined by a specific mission, but it was full. I moved into my husband's condo and pursued a career in actuarial consulting. Over the course of five years, I grew from an uncertain analyst into a project manager with frequent contact with clients. I also attained my professional designation as an actuary by studying for and taking a series of grueling exams while working full-time. My husband and I enjoyed going to symphonies and taking long walks together. We attended small group, served in our church, and both went on several short-term mission trips over the years.
After having my first child, I took a step back from work and ministry. My mission became that of being helper to my husband, mother to my children, and subduer of my cookie-cutter house in a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood. I soon realized that I did not find fulfillment in domestic life the way some women do. I had a vague idea that being a mother would be the most important thing I ever did and that my kids would be the greatest disciples of my life, but I could not see the forest for the trees. Changing diapers, laundry, cooking, cleaning—I thought I was supposed to feel warm fuzzies all day, but instead I felt bored.
I wanted to do something more significant, to have a greater purpose in my life. And while no one would deny the significance of a mother's work, people think of it more as a sacrifice and not so much as an accomplishment. It takes charisma to be a good lawyer, creativity to be a good artist. But mother? Anyone can be a mom, I thought.
Then I recalled an experience I had almost 10 years ago. I was in college service at church. The college service alone had a regular attendance of several hundred people. People were passionate about being disciples of Christ and sharing that passion with others. I stood there in the crowd of my peers, praising God with them, and thought, "This is just a shadow of what heaven will be like." Then I thought about those who had never heard of Jesus—who didn't have a chance of knowing him—and the tears streamed down my face. I committed at that moment to go anywhere for the sake of Christ. I did not consider it too much of a sacrifice to give up the comforts of my life at home for something much more lasting and significant.