About this time eight years ago I was deciding on a future. A higher education future. I did not explore many options because I was going to be a missionary.

I knew internally a career spreading the gospel to all nations would not be nurtured in a public university, so I turned first to a seminary which two years previously had introduced an undergrad program. My mom and I went for a tour, we met with a smiley seminarian who showed us around the well groomed campus. She spoke highly of her experience at the school, talked about the undergraduate reading load, and laughed appropriately as my mom whimsically rehashed her own nostalgic seminary experience.

The seminary is known for it’s conservative beliefs.  They have classes for the wives of pastors, teaching sewing and the art of making a good Sunday roast. Of course i’m doing a bit of judge-y guess work, eight years ago becoming a pastor’s wife was the dream.

I just knew if I attended the seminary school I would find myself a youth pastor husband, have a few kids and be as cool as my own youth pastor’s wife. I admired Kurt and his wife Theresa, they lead our youth group and felt like a set of second parents to me.

I wanted to mimic the mentorship roles they were so good at fulfilling for me, and I knew attending this seminary undergrad would be the answer. 

My life has been full of forks, little moments where a decision could change the pendulum swing of my future, I cannot know for sure, but I think attending the seminary would have sewn up my Southern Baptist worldview nice and pretty.

After the campus visit, I was pretty excited about applying to the school, I spent the afternoon daydreaming.

Later in the evening I went to Kurt’s’s house. I walked in with a big smile on my face and told him about my visit to his seminary. I explained about the undergrad program and how I was going to go there and get a degree in missions. I knew he would smile big and say how proud he was of me, tell me it was a great idea and the Lord would guide me.

Funny thing, he did just the opposite. He was kind and gentle, but he responded with “don’t do that Krisi, please get a real education.” Or something like that.

It was shocking, I was sure it would please him to hear his star youth group student would be following in his footsteps, but I was wrong.

It was one comment, but it was enough. I ended up at a different University, a more “well rounded” one, a decision which I believe has lead me to the place I am now. In Minnesota, teaching technology, not married to a youth pastor, and certainly no missionary.

Advice is funny. I have come to the conclusion, advice should be heeded most fervently when it comes from an unexpected source. Or if it’s the opposite of what you expect from a particular person. The most predominant forks in my life have come from such moments.

The picking of a college is just one example. 

More recently, I was trying to make decisions about who I should date, kiss, and so forth. I know that at twenty-six, available men are dwindling, and the ones with appealing characteristics even more so. A fact which has kept me stingy and lonely.

I am so afraid of giving too much time to the wrong person, wasting a few months which I could have been giving to the right person. It’s enough anxiety to keep me paralyzed and a little bit crazy.

I was talking to a married friend about my fear of kissing the wrong boys, when I should be waiting for the right ones. I spoke hollow words, that I knew I should wait for a “good” man, feeling confident it was what she wanted to hear, knowing she would smile and agree.

But she didn’t.

Not that she wants to see her friend kissing a bunch of chumps, but she did say she didn’t blame me, that a part of life is making the wrong decisions, dealing with the consequences and learning about bits and pieces of ourselves.

It caught me off guard and helped me to relax a little, to let go of the anxiety.

Advice should be honest, it should be vulnerable, it should be human, and it should be unexpected.

I want to keep my eyes open for more of these moments of advice.

If you are a Southern Baptist missionary, perhaps you might read this and be sad or even angry at the advice I got from my youth pastor, but I think he wanted more for me than to mimic the shadow of someone else’s life.

I respect Kurt and Theresa for what they had built and the lives they touched while I was in their youth group. What I didn’t understand at the time, is the beauty in their story didn’t come from a job description: Youth Pastor and Youth Pastor Wife, it came from them as people. From honest character. From vulnerability.

Kurt wanted to help me become the best Krisi, not the best little Kurt. I think he did just that. I hope I can do the same for someone else.

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