We were driving to my house late one night. I could feel the dull ache of my heart as Alex talked about working overseas. It was a feeling I was familiar with. At some point, I had just gotten used to it.
But when I volunteered, it would fill up. For that brief amount of time, I felt whole again. Alex and I, along with a team of college students, spent many Saturdays filling food boxes, babysitting foster kids, playing with children in Mexico and wrangling a gaggle of sassy refugee children. It helped me feel okay, when I would otherwise wrestle with an ache so deep I didn’t know what to do with.
I had never told anyone that before. Until that night. I waited for Alex to say something about how I just needed Jesus. He didn’t say that. He said he felt that same ache in his heart.
I remember what it was like to fall for him, blissfully. I had never met anyone before who made me feel so connected and understood. I trusted him, respected him. I asked him for advice. I followed his judgment. I don’t follow a man unless I like him. I’m simple in that way. So when he suggested that I go on a mission trip to Ireland, I obliged. Soon, we discovered he would be going too.
I was ecstatic.
Now, I won’t lie. That trip was awful for a lot of reasons but there were moments where God counseled me through the missionary family we stayed with. I saw what my life could be. I saw this quiet, powerful life on mission. I saw dirty dishes and old clothes. We ate expired food too precious to throw out and warmed ourselves by a portable stove.
My mind goes back to the church we visited, housed in a storage unit with no electricity in the middle of nowhere.
And my heart didn’t hurt once those almost two weeks. I was doing what I was made to do.
We came back and I confessed my feelings to Alex. And he cried. He told me he loved me. He loved my heart for the gospel. He loved the passion I had for the hearts of other people. But he couldn’t be with me.
I didn’t understand. It’s been five years and I still don’t understand. Why isn’t my heart for the gospel enough? How could you love someone and not want to be with them?
Mind you, I am okay that it didn’t work out. I just have questions that will never be answered.
I never did become a missionary. God closed every door I tried to open. At some point, I thought He had taken away that ache in my heart but recently, I’ve come to realize I had just numbed it with complacency, food and shopping.
Somehow, God has to fill this hole in my heart. He did it for Alex. Someday, He’ll do it for me.