A funny thing happened on the way to my life

We got married in 1982.  It wasn’t very long after we got married, maybe a year, maybe 2, that my husband started making noises about wanting to go into ministry.  I said no.  I said no the way a woman would say no if her husband smilingly asked her if she would like a bucket of spiders poured over her head while cockroaches crawled between her toes.

I mean, there was no room for doubt in my response.  And that response stayed the same for the last 30 years.  No.  I don’t want to.  I married him for many reasons, but I am not kidding when I say that one of the attractions was in no small part that he would never be a preacher.  In fact, when we married, a majority of the attractions at that age and stage in my recovery and escape from growing up with abuse was that there was almost no way whatsoever my husband resembled my father- not in ambition, gifts, weaknesses, strengths, physical appearance- and decidedly not in career choice.  I would never have dated anybody who wanted to be a preacher, let alone married him, not in any circumstances.

Over the years we’ve been asked why, and I’ve mainly said I didn’t want to be dependent on other Christians for whether we could pay our bills that month or not.  Of course, people usually point out we’re depending on God not fellow believers, and I just nod and shrug because the end result looks the same- people.  Money is fungible.  It comes to us through people.  But that probably wasn’t really the reason.  I mean, I did not particularly enjoying being a preacher’s kid growing up.  I didn’t like the looks, the expectations, the double standards.  Not my parents’ double standards, but other people’s.   “I can wear this,” said a deacon’s daughter to me about a skimpy outfit she was wearing, “but you’re the preacher’s daughter. It would be wrong for you.”    I could give you a list of stuff like this, but that really wasn’t it, either.  I was an intensely logical child and at 9 or 10 I was rolling my eyes at her reasoning- rolling them so hard I could see my own brain, because I just that snarkastic even then.

My parents did make a firm and loud point to us and to anybody else who would listen that they did not expect any particular sort of behavior from us because my dad was preacher, that what they expected from us would have been the same if my father was a lay member and we were just ‘civilian’ members of the church and our parents were in used car sales.  I never had any sense that this was not entirely true until high school, when events revealed that for one of my parents at least, this was not really true.  But then, almost nothing was true when it came to that parent.  I am not going to go into the details,  but I will say, I know that my mother, at least, had believed it was true, and it was true for her.  For my dad, the well behaved Christian children were part of his necessary camouflage.

And there we are.  I expect the real reason I have a reflexive recoil at the idea of being a preacher’s wife has already occurred to anybody who has been reading here for any length of time and can read between the lines, especially since the ‘between the lines’ parts are growing less and less faint as I grow older and my dad’s death places him every month, every year, at a safer distance from me.  Abuse casts a long, long shadow.

My dad was a preacher, and he was also a psychopath.  Unless it’s sociopath.  I never can quite remember which is which, but neither is exactly the sort of parent who builds warm and fuzzy connections with the offspring.  Somehow, one of my brothers managed to stomach it all and become a preacher himself, but then, he was, of the 3 of us, the least likely to be thrown into a wall or have his face rubbed in dog feces, or worse.  Not, he would insist, that he doesn’t know it was hell, and from first hand experiences of his own, just that if the 3 of us were to line our pitiful childhood selves up in order of precisely which layer of hell we were in, my youngest brother and I would be hardpressed to admit anybody had it worse than us, and the middle brother would have to agree with us that it definitely was not him.

 

So I have always known this about myself- I have never  ever, not even for a second, wanted to be a preacher’s wife.  I’m not going to be one now.

However, oddly enough, bizarrely enough, strangely enough- I just-, and I do mean just, as in five minutes before I sat down to write this post- realized that I have  been completely complicit in becoming a missionary’s wife,  In fact, I have not only been complicit in this,  I have encouraged, aided, and abetted this change, and not only is my husband going into missions, I’m expected to partner with him (precisely how, I do not quite know yet, a lot depends on the Cherub’s adjustment to a new country), and it’s entirely self- supported, self-funded.  As in, we have to raise 100% of our support ourselves.

Although I have known this for months, technically speaking, as I say, my brain only allowed me to come face to face with the reality of what it all means about five or ten minutes ago. I am still rather stunned by this discovery.  I am even more stunned by the way my brain has betrayed me, allowed us to get this far, allowed me to do as much as I have already done without letting me in on this little secret-  that I’ve just become a missionary’s wife for a fully self-supporting mission.    Wretched traitor, my brain.

I was tricked, you see, by the fact that the work my husband will actually be doing is creating a special needs program at a school in Davao City which has never had a special needs program before.  I was distracted by the knowledge that there is an orphanage where others at the school regularly go volunteer, and fresh off our own very personally moving, life changing, heart breaking, heart aching experience with orphan hosting four brothers from Ukraine and having them wrenched away from us (no, I can’t talk about it more, not ever), that was an aching throbbing, cavity in my heart I was anxious to fill and I am hopeful there will be a way to fill it through helping other children at that different orphanage in another country. And, let us be painfully honest,  I was seduced by my own wander-lust and lured by a desire to give my youngest and last child (even though he is 18) the chance to experience life overseas, even for a short time, in a very different country with a very different lifestyle.   Bedighted by all these trappings, the plain reality that I was now married to a missionary and was also become one myself in spite of myself was hidden from me- by me.

I just blinked and saw God behind the curtain, laughing at me.

 

And now that I have gotten that off of my chest and spun the confused ponderings of my bewildered brain into words which make some sense, even if the reality still doesn’t, I have said and done all I ever wanted to do with this blog post.  I merely sat down to do what I often do when I am baffled, bewildered, confused, or in some way feeling more emotional than I like (feelings? Ew.  I got some on me, but shook that stuff off, and I’m better now, thanks)–  Ariadne had a golden thread to help her through her maze. I find my way through my own mental mazes with words. Writing clarifies things for me, including my own thoughts and feelings.  So I wrote.  I thought I was done.

But having written, the topic will not release me until I do this one, uncomfortable, embarrassing, humbling thing I had not planned to do.  You know that recurring dream where one is doing something very public- like delivering a keynote address- only one realizes one is in one’s underwear and nobody has noticed yet, but the fact that one is nearly naked is bound to dawn upon the crowd at any moment?  I hadn’t had that one in five years or more.  It’s back.

I mentioned we are self-supporting in this mission work.  If you are interested in hearing more from us about it- short, chatty, weekly emailed newsletters at the moment, either leave your email address in the comments, or email me at Heartkeepercommonroom (gmail), and I will pass it on, and my husband will add you to his email list.  I write the newsletters, largely based on topics he suggests, he handles nearly everything else because I am still somewhat in denial.

 

Obviously, yes, we’d be relieved by financial support, also by sharing on social media, and especially, we’d love your prayers and encouragement.  

Thank-you all so much for reading.

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14 Comments

  1. Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I first discovered you when we were missionaries at a school in Manila. I would love to be on your email list!

    • Headmistress
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      How fascinating! Please share any advice you have!

      • Posted August 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s a little hard to share much advice in a comment section! I grew up in the Philippines, in fact I was born there as my parents were missionaries. I went to Faith Academy, Manila for most of high school and returned as an adult with my husband for about 23 years.

        Filipinos are wonderful people. They are incredibly generous and gracious. Their worldview will be different than yours and it can be challenging. The thing about having a worldview is that you don’t know what yours is until someone bumps into it and you think to yourself “what a peculiar way to behave, why on earth would they do that‽” Sometimes it feels like a big deal. Always assume the best of people. Most of the time you’ll be right. Be kind to yourself. It’s a lot to take in. Don’t expect to accomplish as much in a day as you would here, the climate and other things will conspire against it. It’s ok. Take advantage of the opportunities you will have to develop relationships with other missionaries, they may be the richest friendships you’ve ever known and they will help you navigate the new things. Blessings, Amelia

  2. Frances
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to be on the list, please.

  3. Sora
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    We lived in Davao for three years (up until last December) before moving on to our current placement in Indonesia. My husband taught part-time in the high school at Faith Academy and my kids went to school there. Feel free to email with questions.

  4. KristinaTyree
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I have followed you for a number of years now, and feel as if you are a close friend. Please add me to your email list so can come along with you, on your next adventure!

  5. Posted August 17, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I’d love to be on your list.

  6. Cindy Belcher
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Please add me to your email list.

    Your writing has been a great blessing to me for the past several years! You and your family will be in my prayers as you begin this new chapter in your lives.

    In Christ,
    Cindy
    Psalm 73:25-26

  7. Nana Ruth
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Please add me to your list!

    Nana Ruth

  8. Susan Humeston
    Posted August 18, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Please add me to your list. I have been reading you for years and would also like to accompany you vicariously in the future.

  9. Mariann
    Posted August 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Your writing inspires me and makes me think. I have followed your blog almost from its beginnings and would love to be added to the mailing list.

  10. Debs
    Posted August 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Please add me to the list.

  11. Headmistress
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Amelia, I hope you see this. I have to tell you that this bit of advice/insight is some of the best I’ve ever seeN:
    “The thing about having a worldview is that you don’t know what yours is until someone bumps into it and you think to yourself “what a peculiar way to behave, why on earth would they do that‽” ”

    I have come back to think of it again and again.

    • Amelia Larson
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Your comment gave me a smile. I can well imagine how “interesting” some of your experiences have been during the last several weeks. One thing that might be helpful is to remember that in the Philippines, good relationships and harmony are an extremely high value. They trump efficiency every time. Sometimes they trump what we consider honesty. Also, nearly everything is a group activity, group accountability is more successful than individual accountability sometimes, though this is subject to a great many factors. Have you met Dottie St. Clair? She’s a remarkable person with a lot of insight into cultural matters. Blessings

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