One by one the ships come. I watch as some board those bound to college and career. Mostly, I watch as they climb aboard ships that waltz them to an altar where they say two small words that form a life-long commitment.
But mine has a different name, a different purpose. Its voyage lands me on the other side of the world, provides me with four thrilling, high-action, grueling, adventurous years of participating in God’s work on the foreign field. This voyage has a peculiar feeling about it; I know it is changing the course of my life.
Four years later I find myself back on the pier, waiting for a new ship to peek its head over the horizon. One comes, and whisks me away to an unnoticed Bible college in the Southeast. Outwardly, I stay put; inwardly, I am navigating unchartered waters of exploring the heart of God and learning to love Him through the expansion of my mind.
Once more, four years after setting-sail, I find myself on that familiar pier. Again I wonder what the next ship will hold. I look around me, and nearly all of my peers are well into their voyage of marriage and family. I look within me and see that desire for a “normal” ship is increasing, as is my want to nurture another through mothering. I wonder if this is the time that God will bring that ship along.
But the current sends a different vessel. I catch a glimpse from afar. It is easy to notice because of the 19 sets of arms that are flailing from its deck and for the particular shrill of a Jr. High girl’s scream. It reaches out and grabs me as it sails past. I wonder if I know what I’m in for.
As I settle in, I realize that this ship involves much more than being a teacher. For besides instructing about poetry, predicate adjectives, and personification, we look to the Word of God to learn about faith, godliness, and eternity. We live life together and I learn what it means to have a roomful of eyes watching my every action.
One day, a student slips up and calls me “mom.” We laugh. Later, I ponder it. Maybe this ship is not just what I would have asked for, but perhaps it’s not so different as I once thought. I draw and enforce boundaries. I dry tears. I listen to excited stories. I correct when needed. I cheer with success and hurt with difficulties. I referee; I coach; I teach. Sounds a bit like being a mom.
Perhaps it is not the way I had charted my course those nine years ago, but maybe it holds more of what I long for than I ever thought it would. It is where this voyage has brought me. And I will embrace it.