A good friend of mine who isn’t very religious or spiritual decided that maybe it was time to try prayer, but she felt like it wasn’t getting her anywhere.
My responses were all the things good Christians should say:
“God is listening! It’s apparently just not the right time to give you any answers or direction.”
“Don’t give up!”
But now, even as a lifelong Christian who loves God with all her heart, I find myself asking, “God, are you listening? What should I do?”
And I’m not getting any response.
About a year ago I committed to two years as a high school English teacher at an international school in Uganda. I moved here in August, and about five months in, I decided that I missed home too much and that maybe this just wasn’t for me. International schools have a lot of work to do when it comes to finding teachers, so we had to give the school our intentions on January 9.
I didn’t tell many people back in America, but I gave the school my intentions on January 9: I wouldn’t be returning for a second year.
Then God stirred my heart. Or did He? All of a sudden, I regretted my decision to leave and felt like I not only COULD handle another year, but that I WANTED to do another year here.
And then I realized that maybe I couldn’t. So I did what everyone said to do, which is what I knew I needed to do: pray. I prayed. I continue to pray. I feel nothing. I hear nothing. I have no answers. I have no direction.
I understood why my friend was so frustrated with God as well. All my “good Christian answers” I tried to throw back at myself weren’t doing much for me. I wanted to hear something, anything, from God.
It’s like I tap the microphone and say, “Is this thing on?” and God is in the sound booth just looking at me.
Then a horrifying thought hit me. What if this one’s on me? What if God’s leaving it up to me? One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past ten months is that God wants us to serve Him and spread His love no matter where we are located.
So maybe since God knows I’ll do that no matter where I am, He’s leaving it up to me. Where do I WANT to serve Him? Africa? Or America? There’s no right or wrong choice here.
I hate making decisions. I overthink every decision I’ve ever had to make in my entire life, except one. The one decision that was easy, the one decision in which I recall God literally speaking to my heart, was when I came to Uganda in the first place. This time around, He’s putting it in my hands.
The list of reasons to leave and go home is long. I’ve had terrible sinus and allergy problems that cause me to spit up blood some mornings. I am 33 and single, and staying another year would yet again prolong my chances of meeting someone and getting married. I miss my family so much that hurts. I long for the company of my best friends like a lost kitten missing its mother. Financially it makes no sense to stay another year. There’s always the chance of political unrest in a country like Uganda. The list goes on and on.
The list of reasons to stay another year is short. But the items on that list are important: I should honor my commitment of staying for two years. I love my job, and my students are the most amazing kids on the planet. I’ve also made some new friends here who I really don’t want to say goodbye to. I learn so much from them, and we spiritually uplift one another.
Many of us are facing the same decision- to go, or to stay? I really think that if I were to stay, next year would be a lot easier. The transition period would be over, I’d know the ins and outs of living in Uganda, and I could focus even more on my students and other volunteer opportunities. If I were to go home, sure I’d be happy to be around my friends and family, but as one of my best friends asked me yesterday, “But would you end up regretting it? Would you end up wishing you had stayed that second year?”
And I think I would.
God trusts me enough to allow me to make the decision. America, or Africa?
And I choose Africa.