That word describes pretty much everything about our move to Kansas City last year. Nothing went quite like I imagined it would.
In our almost 18 years of marriage, we have always been involved with a small group at our local church. We have found that having friends who aren’t students and aren’t Navigator staff is vital for us to maintain a healthy marriage and pace of life. We have been blessed by deep connections in three different churches—one group was just for our first year of marriage, but we still maintain those relationships today.
So, naturally, we planned to jump right in and find a small group in Kansas City. We visited a few churches and chose one to become “ours.” We found out which adult classes met during a time that worked for us, and visited one Sunday morning. The leader said hello when we walked in. And then? Not a single other person acknowledged our presence. No introductions. No welcoming smiles. When they mentioned sending out announcements, no one asked for our email address. It was so unexpected. And disappointing. And hard.
After a few months of being unable to make any connections, we changed churches. We found an adult class we liked where the people actually said hi and remembered our names from week to week. And yet, in spite of months of attendance, not a single couple ever initiated spending any time with us outside of that hour together. Unexpected. Disappointing. Hard.
In the midst of feeling lonely, the change in our Navigator job has been unexpectedly hard as well. For the first time in our Nav career, we aren’t living near a campus. We have no regular connection with students. The closest collegiate staff live an hour away. As a mommy missionary, I was used to being able to drop in on ministry events with the kids when it worked for us. I was able to meet with a student or staff woman one morning a week and stay engaged in campus life. My kids loved having students in our home, and they felt like a part of our extended family. But how could I stay involved when my husband’s role now involved mostly email, phone/Skype calls, and campus visits that I couldn’t join him in?
We knew this would be the case when we moved. But the emotion of being so removed from daily campus ministry life has been harder than I thought it would be. Foreign. Isolating.
Since agreeing to write this blog post, God has brought another unexpected request before us. And so, we find ourselves packing again and looking for rental houses, just a year after we unpacked these same belongings. It was not at all what I had planned.
What is unexpected for me is so very planned for and expected by Him. He had lessons to teach us this year in Kansas City. Learning to spend quality time as a family again. Choosing friendships with neighbors and friends who don’t yet know Him. Actually living among the lost. It’s been so good. And hard. And unexpected.
And I don’t think I would change a thing.
Melissa and her husband Ben have been on staff with the Navs for 15 years, and married for almost 18. Their family of four moved to Kansas City a year ago, where Ben serves as the Heartland Regional Leader. Her children, Sam (almost 9) and Vivian (6), are looking forward to the end of the school year, and trips to Florida and Colorado this summer. Melissa enjoys reading quality fiction, playing games with her family, and a good cup of coffee with a girlfriend (or two!).