I just wanted to go. Travel to a foreign land. That’s all I knew. High school graduation had come and gone, but my carefully laid plans had fallen to pieces a few weeks before and I was devastated. Thus began my unexpected journey.
My first adventure was a GO! assignment to Central Asia. Eight months of learning and laughing, crying and dancing, eating and serving, loving and leaving. I spent my days passionately discovering the local language and soaking up the centuries-rich culture of the people around me. They lived each day slowly, with a content and simple lifestyle that stunned my ambitious American spirit in the most wonderful way.
My journey continued with a dramatic move from that dusty Islamic village to lush Oregon beaches near a small Bible college. This is where I discovered deep community. The year-long program provided space to pursue relationships while pursuing the Lord through intentional Bible study.
After basking in the sun and beauty of genuine friendship, I returned home to Lancaster County somewhat begrudgingly. Nevertheless, I caught myself appreciating my family in new ways and enjoying my classes at a community college. I enjoyed the luxuries of living at home, but I soon became antsy to go again. On restless days, I found comfort in wild dreams about jumping on the next plane to Timbuktu and living out my days as a dedicated, selfless, world-changing missionary. You know, the kind they write books about.
After some wise words from a mentor about being “equipped to go,” I resolved to place my dreams of a larger-than-life mission on hold in order to complete my bachelor’s degree. I transferred all of my credits to a psychology program at a Christian college in Minnesota, packing up my little car and driving into another unexpected part of my story.
I spent my years there absorbing as much as I could from my remarkable teachers, and learning what it means (and doesn’t mean) to love well. Graduation came and went, and I liked the idea of settling close to my family. So I said my goodbyes and moved back to Lancaster.
Unexpected blessing number 19,846 (or something like that ... I have lost count over the years): a blue-eyed boy named Joshua. Our story has the Lord’s fingerprints all over it, especially considering that we were married just shy of a year after meeting, a stunt someone like me would have scoffed at. Nevertheless, here I am, married and loving it.
I still find myself still longing for a larger purpose though. I want a place to go, a problem to solve, a cause to fight for. My current job ends in a few weeks and life beyond is largely unknown. I am familiar with the unexpected, but that does not mean that I like it. It is perpetually uncomfortable. I am a planner and I desperately want the Lord to drop a spreadsheet out of the sky with a detailed schedule of where I need to be when, and what I should pack.
But my purpose, my mission, is much simpler than I often recognize. I am a daughter who has a Father with a heart that is unconditionally and fervently for His children. If I so choose, this can be enough. My purpose, my mission, flows out of a greater understanding of that simple truth: knowing His heart for me and learning to live with that same heart turned towards others, whether in Central Asia, Oregon, Minnesota, or Lancaster City.
I cannot give you even a clue as to where my story will lead next, but I do challenge you to join me in embracing the beauty in an unexpected journey. It is often messy, slightly terrifying, and not very popular. But in my limited experience, it is always worth the risk.
Kelly (Kreider) Tucker served through GO! in Central Asia in 2008-2009. She lives with her husband Joshua in Lancaster, Pa. They attend Threshold Church and enjoy walking to Central Market, getting to know their neighbors, and dreaming about future adventures.