27 February 2014

Contentment and Faithfulness

 Me, as a sophomore.

In February 2010, I was a college sophomore majoring in Chinese who had just figured out how to get a guaranteed scholarship that would allow me to spend a semester studying in China for free. My parents, at first hesitant about the idea, had told me to go for it once I told them it wouldn't cost anything. This was a dream for any Mandarin major. I'd already picked up the application to study abroad and had started filling it out, but I hadn't yet turned it in.

I was 18 and single and passionate about language study. At that point in your life, if you get an opportunity to live abroad for free and study a language you love, you take it.

However, I never turned in that application.

Because, one sunny, freezing day, I was walking between buildings on my college campus and right there, in the snowy, ice covered world that I detested, I heard clearly, "You will be content HERE." In case you didn't catch that, there was a strong emphasis on the HERE.

Now, I knew a few things right away. I knew that that statement came from God, and I knew that it meant I was not going to pursue spending a semester in China.

Still, I stood there, motionless, out in the cold, my immediate thoughts being: "Really? I'm Rachel. It's like you don't even know me. I've never been content here!"

I was the kid who never wanted to go to college, who cried herself to sleep a significant portion of freshman year, and who, in spite of her beloved friends, was always scheming to find a way OUT of that town. I even hated winter. With this study abroad plan, I had already figured out how to fly to Malaysia at the end of May, go straight to China in August, fly back to Malaysia in December, and not return to the US till the next February. I was planning to be away from Michigan for 9 months, and I was thrilled about it.

But suddenly, because of that statement, all of my excitement and desire to move to China faded away. God had told me I'd be content HERE, and I knew I would.

Soon after that, my grandpa called me, upset because he'd found out that I'd decided not to go to China. He asked me, "Why won't you go?" I told him that God had told me I'd be content here in Michigan, that I knew I wasn't supposed to go. Grandpa said, "Oh, well, can't argue with that. Good choice."

In December 2010, while most of my Chinese classmates were still in Beijing, I got married. Yes, you read that right, I went from single in February to married in December. I didn't regret staying.

As of now,  I've been living in Michigan on and off for over 5 years (most people can't say  they live somewhere 'on and off' but trust me, it makes sense in my situation). Some seasons have been characterized by more contentedness than others, but in these 5 years, I've learned much that I really needed to know.

I chose to obey God when I was 18, and it wasn't really a hard choice. As soon as I heard, I was able to instantly drop all those plans I'd been making. My longing to go to China disappeared. I'm glad I listened. At the time, I didn't know whether it meant I would stay in Michigan forever or not. At some points, it looked like it might be forever, and that I would have to be content with that. I knew that if that were the case, I would be.


Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by piles of things. Trash. Stuff to Give Away. Treasures to Pack.

It was Valentine's Day, and in that moment, on the floor, surrounded by the things I'd emptied from a cupboard that would be taken from me before the day was gone, I was afraid.

Last summer, Angel and I became strongly convinced that Michigan is not our forever home. We've been working on the move since then, but suddenly, on February 14th, faced with the very immediate prospect of an empty home, what ifs filled my mind. What if airplane ticket prices go up before we're able to buy them? What if we don't get the jobs we're hoping for? What if moving abroad is hard? What if we have less than I've ever had before? What if Angel chickens out? What if I get sick?

Besides the what ifs, there's the things I know to be true. The ice cream won't taste anything like American ice cream. Visas aren't always easy to obtain.  We won't have a house and large yard anymore. We'll miss our friends and relatives.

Right then, this exact question came to my mind: "Is there any way that God cannot be faithful?"

That was all I needed. I took a few moments to seriously ponder the matter. The question humbled me, because I already knew the answer. Nope, there's no way. If I am faithful, He is infinitely more faithful. I won't be forsaken if Angel and I obey this dream for our lives that God's given us. I simply won't.

4 years ago, I was planning to move overseas, but I didn't. This year, I was planning to work in a salon while my husband went to grad school, but I won't. And, although there are passing moments where I doubt our sanity, I couldn't be happier that life didn't turn out the way I imagined. I choose to be faithful to a God who I know can't be unfaithful.


{If this post made no sense to you, Summer Vacation Changed my Life and No Valentine's Date might help clear things up. Or, to sum things up, my husband and I had no intention of moving abroad together, but we are, and in the very near future. And this post about the adventure of obeying God completes my Month of Adventure. Thanks for reading!}


  1. Thank you for this post! My husband and I are facing a lot of uncertainty in his job situation right now, but what I really have to remember through all this is that God is Faithful and He will be with us through whatever trials the world puts us through. Thanks again, Rachel!

  2. I didn't major in Japanese but I took it for so many years that it seemed inevitable that I would spend time in Japan abroad, teaching English.
    Something, I don't know what, told me never to do that. It was a tough year after graduation - both of my grandparents passed, my childhood dog got sick and my parents moved from my childhood home. Not sure I could have coped with all of that while being so far away.
    I'm glad I stayed!

  3. God's faithfulness really is the biggest stress-reliever in my life. Those what-ifs are real, but God IS faithful, and there's nowhere safer to be than in his plan.
    There's such peace from knowing it's His will - Malcolm applied to study here in 2011, and the timing was awful... I remember when he told me his funding wasn't approved we were so relieved and had ice-cream to celebrate. But, 2 years later, after applying again, we celebrated that he did get it.

  4. Life will lead you where you need to be. I've always trusted in that. It's normal worry, but so much better to challenge yourself and grow.


  5. amazing to see God's hand on yall's life as he reveals His plan to both of you! Glory to our King!!! xx

  6. Amazing story, you guys are going to have a great time once you get over there :)

  7. you write with such heart and poise that i feel like we're having a heart-to-heart at a coffee shop every time i read your blog. such a beautiful story about wanting to go abroad but following god's plan and finding something so much better for your soul (angel). excited to see what happens with your next adventure :)

  8. Lovely story Rachel. I am sure everything will turn out right for you guys!

  9. wow! crazy how similar of a story we have!! i was planning on doing a semester in Chine for business! it turned out that my scholarships wouldn't transfer and i felt a peace about staying here. i ended up graduating a semester early & during the semester i would have been in China, i got engaged & had emergency surgery to have a 20 lb cyst removed from my ovary! looking back i can easily see God's provision - i would have been in China for that emergency surgery without my family & i wouldn't have been able to fly home for about a month after the surgery.

    it's so cool to look back & see God at work even though it's not necessarily what we were planning!

  10. It's a bit sad you didn't go to China - I seems like a great life experience, although I understand that you not going was the right reason for you and I'm glad you don't regret your choice. I spent a year in France and it was hard, but really helped me grow as a person. Whenever I think I can't do something, I just think to myself 'I moved to France, on my own'.

    Where is this new possible home?

    Corinne x

  11. "I choose to be faithful to a God who I know can't be unfaithful" Amen and amen and amen again.

    This post really blessed me today, Rachel.

  12. This is so great. Isn't it cool how God works. Sometimes he just laughs at the plans we make for ourselves because he has something so much better in mind! Praying for you guys as you continue to make plans and get everything worked out for your big move!

  13. This actually made me tear up Rachel!

    I believe that you are lead to certain points in your life, but then you choose which step to take forward. For you, you were lead to that fork in the road. And you chose to stay. And look where it has brought you in life.

    This is why I believe that you shouldn't regret your past. Because had you not made the choices you did, you wouldn't be where you are now.

  14. This was such a good post, Rachel -- I needed to read this! It's amazing how you look back at what you did and didn't do, and how it affects your future and how God still works it all out..I'm so happy that you couldn't be happier, it's encouraging to ME! Thanks friend :)

  15. You are very faithful! It's also a talent to listen, hear, recognize, and act on inspiration from God. It looks like you have the down!

  16. Aww it's nice to see someone with such strong face but not overly cocky/cheesey about it (saying that because my mom is that annoying person). Everything happens for a reason and it's good that you're always happy with your decisions, means you'll live with no regrets. :) I'm sure you both will make the right decision :) Have a great one Rachel! -Iva

  17. You are so right. My husband is getting his residency assignment on March 21. I have mixed feelings about it, but one thing I do know is God will send us where we need to go. I can take comfort in that

  18. I love when you get that undeniable peace and contentment from The Lord that helps direct your choices. Good for you for listening to His promptings and letting us all witness the fruit of His blessings! Excited to follow along with your journey to see what God has in store!
    Eva Marie

  19. I love how when we listen to God he gives us the answer and then some more. Hence your marriage. After my first daughter I knew I wanted to go back to school for nursing but at the same time wanted to be a SAHM. Once After I finished my first semester I found out we were pregnant again. Once she was born I returned and found out I was pregnant with our third. I obviously was not listening to what God was telling me. Now that I am a SAHM I am doing what I love writing and motherhood. :)


  20. Wow! I really loved this post. It gave me chills reading it. You guys are about to embark on a wonderful adventure:)

  21. This is so beautiful Rachel! I'm slowly learning that being open to God's plans are always the best...

  22. Oh, yes. Great post. I keep reminding myself, "God is good- He wants what's best for me, and only He knows what that is!"

  23. This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing it. :)

    decked out in ruffles

  24. Uncertainty may happen but He truly has a plan!

  25. It's so amazing that God has our lives all planned out. All we have to do is follow His leading! Sounds like you're doing a great job at that. :-) Thanks for linking this up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop!

  26. What an awesome reminder. I actually read this post a few nights ago and can't stop thinking about it and how God spoke to you and you obeyed and how God was still faithful. What an encouragement Hun! That you had the faith to follow Gods will. At church and through other bloggers I have been learning about Gods faithfulness and been reminded of it. I want to do a post on Gods faithfulness soon but still praying on how I want to go about it or talk about it. May I link this post (and your name /blog) on their as inspiration? Just let me know either way. Thank you for your posts and faith. God is good, be blessed this day. Rachel

  27. I love what you have shared here about being obedient when God says no. Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  28. This is such a beautiful post :) Your commitment and faith in God is so inspiring, and something I've been struggling with lately. I keep falling back to the 'what if's' instead of trusting God's plan. Thanks for showing how all plans can lead to good if we faithfully follow!

  29. God always knows exactly what to do for us! it has taken me a while to learn that, especially after some tragic events in my life, but i always try to trust in His plan.

  30. I stumbled upon your blog via the Modest Mom's blog... Though you are much younger than I, your post touched me b/c blooming where I'm planted is often so hard for me, and I have such a love for China, where I've spent so much time in years past. God is sovereign. Thanks for sharing.