Originally posted here on November 9, 2012
For all of you who have been asking what I’m doing, where I live, and, generally, what in the world is going on with my life, here’s the story:
Phase One: I went to Making Things Happen in North Carolina in May. (You can read more about that here.) It was an experience that solidified the feeling I’d been feeling for awhile: it was time to move on to something new. I had been making ends meet with a few part time jobs for about a year after discovering that full-time photography was not a gig I wanted to pursue after all. I was kind of just existing in an in-between state, not really knowing what I was doing to move forward or where exactly I wanted to move forward to.
Phase Two: I gave notice at all of my jobs and told my landlord I would not be renewing my lease. I went into full-force job searching. I applied for hundreds (HUNDREDS) of jobs – lots of magazines and companies and missions that mattered to me – crafting a specific cover letter and application for each. I don’t know that I’ve ever thrown myself so heartily into a project; I 1000% believed that if I was faithful in following through on the convictions God placed on my heart that He would make the right door open for me. 1000%. I believed it so much that I didn’t make any plans for where to live after August 31st, the last day of my lease. I just knew God would come through.
Phase Three: The sky fell. Not only did I not get a job, I was dealt the most ridiculous hand of circumstances to date. Let’s quickly note that nothing catastrophic happened to me – it was just a month long stretch of can’t-catch-a-break, a constant drip of a leaky life faucet. We’ll talk about that more another time because there are a handful of good stories in that chapter, but for now let’s just suffice it to say that out of everything in my possession: if it was mechanical, it broke; if it was promised, it was nullified; if it was electronic, it died; if it was originally found, it was ultimately lost.
Phase Four: As the end of August approached I had two choices: I could move somewhere just to move, without having a job, without having any sense of conviction that this was a good idea, and live off of savings until I came up with a plan…or I could move back home with my parents temporarily. It would have taken a whole lot of stupid to overwhelm the whole lot of stubborn I was feeling toward Option 2, thankfully more than I was in possession of at the time. So off went the U-haul down the familiar trail to Burnt Hills, NY.
Phase Five: The glimmer of hope that this was just a temporary move started to fade after another round of “thanks, but no thanks” job applications. Meeker, sweeter women of God may have conceded that God’s will is perfect regardless of how it aligns with our desires. But I was having none of that. I felt abandoned and betrayed. I felt like I took a leap of faith, expecting God to provide a soft place to land, and fell face-first on the pavement instead. It would have been enough to not get a single job I applied for. But for other things to fall to pieces, and to have to move back home to my parents house at 26 on top of that, it just felt like salt in the wound.
Phase Six: Right after moving home I tried to snag as many freelance writing jobs as possible (because Sallie Mae waits for no dream). I ended up with a couple of keepers, the most steady of which being writing how-to articles for a burgeoning website. But it wasn’t nearly enough to pay Sallie or any of the other monthly visitors to my bank account.
The big news in town was that Target was about to open soon. And everyone and their brother…and their sister…and their sister’s cousin’s best friends’ uncle…told me that if I needed a job why didn’t I just apply at the new Target?! (Because there’s nothing employed people like to do more than give unemployed people advice.) To each and every inquirer I responded with a resounding NO. People…really? Not that Target isn’t the mecca of all things purchasable and not that Target Team Members aren’t wonderful people doing great work, but I had just spent the past few months of my life busting my tail chasing my DREAM jobs! And now I was supposed to live at home and work at the new Target? Are you kidding?
Phase Seven: After nearly two months of unemployment, I found myself wearing khaki and red at my Starbucks orientation for the new Target.
Phase Eight: I felt like this:
photo credit : pinterest
Only I didn’t make a sign. But if I had, it probably would have just been red paint and exclamation points…angry ones.
Phase Nine: I was smack dab in the middle of the fence. I didn’t want to be bitter about the past few months of disappointments so I tried to be grateful in every way I knew how. I tried to be positive when I talked to people, especially my parents, because I harbored loads and loads of guilt for potentially hurting them by not being enthusiastic about moving back home. But I also kept job searching, held onto all of my own timelines and plans, and had an internal attitude of “THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED…” even though my external attitude was more like, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” It was wildly inconsistent, and it was literally making me sick.
Phase Ten: Oh, Phase Ten. Phase Ten has been a slow process of coming to terms with where I am right now. Not where I wanted to be or where I thought I would be, but where I am.
working part time at Starbucks (in the new Target)
writing a thousand and five freelance articles for pennies a piece
pouring my whole heart and every ounce of spare time into a project I never saw coming
having breakfast with my mom while we watch Mike and Mike in the Morning
having lunch with my dad after work
savoring every second of ESPN, NFL Network, and Food Network (hello, cable!)
being traumatized by LOST on a weekly basis with Jaclyn
mentoring kids who aren’t kids anymore
drinking tea in the afternoon
being part of a family (which is markedly different (and better) than flying solo)
spending time with the Lord, trying to surrender control in earnest
Yep. Unpacking. Because even if an amazing job presented itself tomorrow, I’m not sure I would take it unless it came signed with a note from God that said, “Hey. Do this.” And here’s why:
There have been several times in life when I’ve heeded an irrational conviction that I needed to do something even though it was not on my list of things to do – begging my parents to send me to public school, choosing Roberts for college, working in Admissions – to name a few, and all of those times ended up as the most fruitful seasons of my life. This feels like that.
I found it ironic that when I went back to my Making Things Happen posts to link them here the first one I saw bore this opening line: “Here is the crux of Making Things Happen, at least for me: You have to be willing to let go of what you want to make happen.”
Well…shoot. If that don’t just beat all.
This was not my plan. But it is the plan. And let’s pause to acknowledge that it’s a GOOD PLAN. If I have food and water and clothing and shelter and parents and friends and a job and freedom and faith…and the only thing wrong is that my independence has suffered and my pride is injured…then it was high time for a reality check to begin with. Because that’s not who I want to be.
Phase Ten can be as joy-filled or as joy-less as I make it. And it’d be a real shame to squander a perfectly good expanse of time for no good reason. I have every single solitary reason to be joyful, and none to be discontent. I have more than enough.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Addendum: let the record show that 5 minutes after posting this, my dad came home with sunflowers for me, just because he know I like them. Seriously. Under conditions like this…somehow, I think I’ll survive.