Life is a crazy thing.
Nearly everything we do is in preparation for whatever comes next. Dating is preparation for marriage, school is preparation for a job, and your job is preparation for retirement.
We put in all this time into preparing for our future, but the irony is: we never have any idea of what’s going to happen next.
Most of you know about the situation Kohl and I are dealing with, as Kohl is stuck in Canada while I’m here in Tennessee. Our best bet to get her back into the U.S. with any sort of urgency was with a Humanitarian Parole; a waiver based on need that would allow her to cross the border and be here legally again.
Unfortunately, our nightmare scenario became a reality a couple days ago when we found out that the USCIS denied that parole request. Now, we’re going to have to start from scratch with a whole new process in order to get Kohl back in the country. We have no idea how long it’s going to take, how much it’s going to cost, or what we’re going to do in the meantime.
The four months that we’ve been apart has felt like four years, and with no end in sight, this whole situation is difficult to fully grasp. There are so many different outcomes to this situation, and we have little to no impact in the final decision. It is a horrible and helpless feeling. Really, the only thing that I can wrap my head around and actually understand is that this sucks. I don’t know why it’s happening, I don’t know how to fix it, and I don’t know when it’s going to end.
For me, feeling like I have zero control over a situation is infuriating. I want to make this right, and, as a husband, I feel like I have a duty to do exactly that. I’ve been in situations before where I was entrusted to make the right decisions for others in a tough spot. I’ve felt that pain of feeling like I let people down (R.I.P. DT). But after, there was always something I could do to try and help again.
But being able to do nothing? Feeling that pain of letting down your own wife? Even if I didn’t directly cause this (that was you, U.S. Border Patrol), there aren’t many feelings worse than the helpless one that I have right now.
But through all of these negative feelings that I have, I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not in control…and neither is immigration services.
I truly believe in a Higher Power that has a plan for all of us; a God that challenges us, but always holds out a hand to guide us through. That is one of the few things that I can find comfort in nowadays, and I know that it’s true because I’ve lived through it.
There are three specific events I can point to in my life that serve as the foundation for my belief that God does have a plan for us:
Three months before I took my first breath, my biological father was killed in a car accident somewhere in South Korea. My biological mother, who was very young and had become tragically single, knew she couldn’t raise me on her own. She had a choice to make: either save herself the pain of childbirth and have me aborted or continue with the pregnancy and put me up for adoption. Because you’re reading this right now and you know that infant ghosts can’t type, you’re all well aware that she made the choice to give me life.
I still haven’t met her, but I thank God for her as often as I can. She gave me the opportunity to have an amazing life even though she couldn’t provide one for me herself, and that is one of the most selfless things that anyone could ever do.
God has a plan.
Fast-forward a few months, and I am placed in a family who resides in the great state of Michigan.
My parents, Tim and Jennifer Dunn, were told all throughout the adoption process to prepare for a girl. As I’m typing this, I don’t fully remember the reason why, but it’s just another example of how plans in life can quickly get flipped on their head. Because, man, baby Michelle’s first bath got awkward real quick (ha, get it?).
With the adoption process, there are so many different possibilities for a child’s life. So many different families and each with their own set of unique circumstances. However, as a three-month-old baby, I didn’t have much say in what was going to happen to me. I had to rely on others to make the right decision for me. Sound familiar?
As it turns out, everyone involved got this one right because I could not have more perfect parents. Growing up, I never had a want or need that couldn’t be met (only-child syndrome) and was provided for without question. I was allowed to pursue whatever interests I had and was allowed to discover what kind of person I really was. But most important of all, I was loved unconditionally and taught about the One who showed them how.
So many factors, so many decisions, and so many variables all had to happen for me to make it to my perfect family. Do I really believe that all happened by chance and sheer luck?
God has a plan.
Now, this one is much less drastic than the previous two, but this is the one where I was old enough to fully remember being angry and questioning why it was happening. Spoiler Alert: it still turned out for the best.
When I was in fifth-grade, we were living in Flat Rock, MI and I was loving life. I had a bunch of great friends at school and at church, and I was planning on staying there forever. But as we know: plans change.
My dad accepted a new preaching position in Adrian, MI, and we were forced to move. It was only an hour or so away from where we currently were, but moving churches and schools — pretty much my entire social life — was devastating for me. I hated my dad for it. I was so angry and upset because I had to basically start from scratch. I was so comfortable where I was at, and I was so scared of the unknown that waited for me in Adrian. Those feelings weren’t assuaged quickly either. I transferred to this new school a couple months into the school year, and I probably wasn’t the most welcome sight in the world (i.e. short, chubby asian kids don’t typically have kids falling over themselves to be friends with you on sight).
But after a tough first month or so, I quickly learned how wrong I was about the move we had made. For one, the school itself provided me with a much better education and environment than I would’ve had otherwise. What’s more important to me though, are the relationships that I made through Lenawee Christian School. I met some of my absolute best friends there, and I’m blessed to still call them that to this day. I was “lucky” enough to have a pretty awesome high school experience, which a lot of people can’t relate to.
God has a plan.
From there things pretty much went according to the plan that I had for myself.
I was fortunate enough to attend college, make more lifelong friends, earn my degree, start working straight out of school, and of course, get married.
Through all of these unbelievable blessings, I still find myself feeling angry, helpless and doubtful because of the situation Kohl and I are in. It’s been a difficult few months because every move we make to try and rectify this situation has hit a big, fat brick wall. In times like this, every prayer seems to go unanswered.
But as I take a step back and reflect on everything that’s taken place in my life leading up to this point, I realize how clinically insane I must seem to God. How lucky am I to have a family that supports me and loves me unconditionally? To have an unbelievable group of friends who are willing to help in any way that they can? To have found that one person who I can love forever who makes this situation so unbearable in the first place? Through every challenge, struggle and surprise, He has been with me every step of the way. I have no reason to believe that’s going to stop now.
So when you think or pray about the situation that Kohl and I find ourselves in (please, please do), don’t pray for an outcome. We know that God has set that plan into motion. Instead, pray that we will trust in the path that God has laid out for us, and that we won’t stray from it. We know this road will bring us back together at some point in time, but pray for our peace and for our faith to not be shaken because sometimes we desperately need a reminder of God’s omniscience. Pray for us to be reminded of how blessed we truly are. Obviously, this is not how we planned our first year of marriage to go, but this isn’t a tragedy. Our marriage isn’t over because of divorce or death. This is simply a valley that we need to climb out of in our journey together.
In the meantime, we will try do everything we can to prepare for every outcome and hope that this all ends soon. More than likely, another surprise will be waiting for us. We won’t know if it’s a welcome one or not until it happens, but no matter what please help us to remember…
God. Has. A. Plan.