Have you ever had a plan in mind that didn’t quite go exactly as you’d hoped? Sometimes the greatest adventure in trust comes when God leads to uncharted territory. Jena’s story is a beautiful picture of learning to trust an unchanging God in the midst of uncertain circumstances. Her words remind me to ask the questions, “Do I really trust that God knows what’s best for me? Will I let Him lead?”
Here is Jena’s Freedom Story.
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Going back home never felt like the right choice, but how could that be possible when every commonsense reason to return home stared at me in the face? We’d been up in Vancouver, British Columbia for five weeks living out of carry-on suitcases. Schools would be starting back up soon in Kansas City and my three daughters would have desks with their names on them. Our home and belongings sat untouched and I dearly missed my own bed. Our extended family and community inquired about our plans to come home weekly if not daily, and we missed them fiercely. When my husband came to me with the news that his company was extending his temporary assignment for at least three more months, we had a hard decision to make. Packing up, saying goodbye to him, and going home made all the sense in the world on paper, except for one factor: it felt like God wanted us to stay there.
What kept me from booking plane tickets on the next flight home to Kansas City was the belief that for some unforeseeable reason, God sent us to Vancouver. I knew from reading the Bible that God often sent his people adrift for reasons he didn’t always reveal right away, but they consistently led to a greater understanding of his holiness and purposeful plans. Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, Mary, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and even Jesus himself left comfort zones trusting God was the one doing the sending. I’m not saying me, or our situation, was in biblical proportions, but only that we serve an unchanging God who has been known to shake up comfort zones for good reasons. In biblical examples, security and familiarity were traded in for something greater; a secure place of dwelling in the presence of God in the places he calls us to.
If God was the captain of this crazy, unexpected voyage we were on through uncharted waters then I could use the faith that’s been gifted to me to lower the anchor of my hope right into the steadfast love and presence of Jesus. Our family could live out of carry-on luggage with minimal possessions for an unknown season if it meant seeing God move in our lives. We could walk out the harder choice of being strangers in a city where we were living with our three daughters (ages 6, 7, and 13) in an urban, corporately furnished apartment and homeschool, but only if God was doing the sending. Just because we felt it was right to stay didn’t make it easy.
One morning I sat on the floor of our apartment kitchen away from my kids’ view and quietly cried. If souls can be squeezed, mine was wrung dry. I told God it was too hard to do life with so much uncertainty and prayed for some type of approval or green light to take my daughters and myself home. Our work assignment had been extended another 4 months, which meant my husband would have to remain in Vancouver or search for a new job. My heart was crushed for my middle schooler missing out on a normal teenage life; my younger daughters were tired of homeschooling and playing in close-knit spaces; we were lonely for belonging, and Vancouver’s winter rains soaked my faith into a puddle of weariness. In that moment on my kitchen floor, I desired more than anything to return to the comforts of home. I knew what we had there and I longed to grasp hold of something with perceived predictability and control. Like a daughter begging her father to let her do the easy thing, He lovingly assured me he was doing what was best for us. I knew going home wouldn’t lessen God’s love for me at all and we’d make it work as a family, but something deeper spoke peace in my soul that day; I realized I trusted God more than I trusted my own feelings, so we stayed.
Homeschooling from an apartment in the middle of a city continued to be difficult, but our quantity and quality time together was a priceless treasure. My daughters’ bonds deepened through their shared awkward and new experiences. Meeting new people and encountering cultures so different from our own transformed how we viewed our place in the world. My husband’s work proved challenging yet rewarding, and he thrived in his new role. Our marriage of 17 years grew stronger as we communicated and leaned on each other for support. As a family we grew roots together in ways we’d never done in our easily distracted, suburban lifestyle. Our life back in Kansas City was truly blessed, yet it was time for us to carry the lessons and memories of those blessings into a new way of doing home. Being free from so many of the pressures of a family active in multiple sports, church activities, school functions, demanding careers, and packed social schedules (all good things in and of themselves!) meant we were free to dream about our family’s mission and goals going forward. If we wanted to raise daughters who will be women of influence for the kingdom of God then experiences like this were faith builders to that end.
One year later, we returned to our home in Kansas City one last time so we could place it on the market to sell. After a year of living a slightly nomadic, corporate life in Vancouver, BC my husband had been offered a new position in his company that seemed to be a perfect fit, so we accepted and planned a ‘permanent’ move to the Seattle, WA area. Walking back into the home we’d left a year before brought me to a full circle moment. I could’ve laugh-cried at the relief of knowing we’d done the hard, best thing. We imperfectly followed God through dark days and clumsily threw out our anchors of hope to Jesus. There were countless tears, worries, doubts, and fears but we locked up our home in Kansas City for the last time confident that God had sent us and continues to call us into new adventures. That kind of freedom can’t be found anywhere in our attempts to stay in life’s steady pond. Getting out in the open sea, tossing our anchor of hope to Jesus, and trusting him to be our guide is faith in action. Our deepest freedom was found in experiencing his faithful presence and purpose in uncharted waters of life, and we overflow in gratitude to our Heavenly Father who knew exactly what we needed all along.
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Jena Meyerpeter fell in love with words as a little girl tucked away in the aisles of her father’s used bookstores. Today, Jena’s love of words continues as she writes and speaks on all topics faith and family. You can find more of Jena’s writings at JenaMeyerpeter.com and follow her and her family’s adventures on Instagram.
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Special thanks to Andrew Neel of Unsplash for the pictures to accompany this post.