My name is Kathy, and I’m an art-loving elementary school teacher who enjoys traveling, playing with my toy poodle, belting out songs when I drive, and chilling with the best husband in the world.
Since our Summer 2014 “A Time for Everything” tour, I made one of the largest moves so far in my life: joining my husband in the Caribbean where he was studying medical school. What this meant was that I had to quit my job as an elementary art teacher, leave my dear little poodle with my parents, pack my life into 2 suitcases, and move to a tiny island in the southern West Indies called St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If you want to know what that place looks like, try to remember Port Royal in “Pirates of the Caribbean” where Elizabeth Swan lived… that set was built on St. Vincent! It is a beautiful island, but at the same time so drastically different from the United States. In the beginning, I felt as though my arms and legs had been cut off. I had no access to a car, there weren't really any shops I could just go and "browse" at, and I had no job which meant no source of income. However, this experience turned into a humbling journey of obedience that probably would have taken me a lifetime to learn.
When my husband and I got married in 2013, I knew that my role as a wife was to be supportive and OBEDIENT. Well, that was much easier said than done! I had grown up as the oldest sister of 2 younger brothers, and held different leadership positions in my life; rather than training obedience, these experience had instead sharpened my stubborness and innate desire to be bossy instead. This worsened when my husband, Ethan, moved to the Caribbean 5 months after we were married because during that 1 year we were apart, my own sense of "being a leader" had increased tenfold because I became the breadwinner and dealt with all the taxes, bills, etc. We spoke and Skyped everyday, but let's be honest, that is definitely not the same as being 2 bodies physically occupying the same place! When I finally joined him, the struggle became real. Not only did I feel stifled because I couldn't do anything and be independent, but our little arguments would also grow heated because I was so stubborn. Each argument or bicker turned into a battle of silence and I had a really hard time saying "sorry" even if I knew I was in the wrong. I don't know why, but there was this tiny piece of anger and hardness I would hold onto in my heart that wouldn't allow any sound to come out even if I knew it would resolve everything.
However, God does everything for a reason and a beautiful plan for me even though I definitely did not see it. After being there for a month, I had some things to do such as volunteering at a local elementary school and taking online courses for my master's degree, but other than that, my life revolved around my husband. I couldn't really do anything without him because 1) we didn't have the finances to go out and shop or eat because neither of us were making an income, 2) there wasn't anyone to go to the beach with because our friends were students and studying, and 3) to get around anywhere on the island was exhausting because I didn't have a car. Now I can already hear women saying "That's awful!" and in the beginning, it was. However, when I finally embraced the fact that I couldn't do anything, it was actually liberating! What I found myself doing instead was turn 100% of my attention to supporting Ethan in any way I could, which basically meant to take on the role of a house wife. Growing up, I had been taught to become an independent woman who should never 100% rely on her husband; I need to have a high paying job, I need to know how to do everything like my husband does, I shouldn't be a house wife, I need this, I need that. However, I think that this way of thinking is skewed because the teachings of the Bible say that women need to be obedient and submissive but at the same time reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. It's not about competing with each other, but loving each other tenderly. It doesn't mean that a woman can't have a job or know how to take care of the bills and things, but rather, that should not be her priority. What I found out over time, was that the more I stopped trying to control everything and the more I allowed Ethan to lead, the happier I was. This didn't mean that I became a quiet little house-wife with no opinions--not at all! But rather, I would seek Ethan's opinions when we had to make a decision, and also respect the final decisions that he made. We also spent time to do devotions together every night using a book called "The Love Dare" by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. It's a simple book, but an amazing reminder for us to LOVE each other... and this meant loving each other through thick or thin. Doing my personal devotions, I came across this verse in Ezekiel 36:26 where it says:
"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
I know for a fact that if we were to be living in the United States at this time, I wouldn't have learned the beautiful lesson of obedience. It was only because EVERYTHING that I had control over (income, transportation, connections) was taken away that I could grow. I feel like it's almost ironic how when I had "more", my heart was more stubborn because all of those things caused me to take pride in myself... and when I had "less," I had more room in my heart for God and for Him to transform me. Am I in any way perfected now? No. God is still working on me and there's quite a bit of work left to do. But I can humbly say that it is ONLY through Him that I am now able to say the words, "I'm sorry," at the end of arguments.