The Story, Part II
Missed Part I? No sweat; it was awhile ago. You can find it here!
I have such exciting news that I’m not even going to bury the lead and wait another 1500 words to share it.
I was recently hired to be part of the team at CURE International near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (!!!). I’m going to be their new content coordinator, working with emails and newsletters and social media, among other things, in an effort to spread the word about this amazing organization that heals sick kids from the inside out (!!!).
This JOB. I still can’t believe it.
It’s such an expression of God’s grace and love. I get to do work that matters for an organization I respect and help kids receive physical healing and the message of Jesus’ love. I get to write and edit and be creative. I get to move to Pennsylvania and be near Chick-fil-A!!!
And…as if all that weren’t enough…there is now a WEGMANS in Harrisburg.
So you know that this gift is the literal expression of all. the. things. my heart loves.
I can’t quite wrap my mind around it yet. It’s just all so good. And I want to highlight this moment and throw a party right here to thank the Lord for such a special gift, but I also want to highlight how this journey began and thank Him for His fierce love that was far less appreciated than this joyful love is right now.
Most of you know that about a year and a half ago I quit everything to pursue writing jobs. At the time I was working a bunch of part time jobs and writing on the side, but I felt wholly convicted that the time was right to flip that equation. In an exercise of blind faith, I decided not only to quit my jobs but also to not renew the lease on my apartment. Because who doesn’t like to live on the edge? But really, I didn’t feel like I was the edge at all. I was 110% sure that by the time August 31st arrived I’d have a new job and a new place to live. I wasn’t the least bit worried.
Most of you also know how that worked out for me. After sending out hundreds of applications and hustling like my life depended on it (because it kind of did), I came up empty. I didn’t get a single job. And I had to move out, pronto. I went from dreaming about my new job and my new apartment and reaping the rewards of a huge leap of faith to moving back home with my parents and not having any job and feeling like my leap of faith had turned into an epic face plant.
What mostly no one knows, for no mysterious or traumatic reason other than I haven’t written it down yet, is what happened in the space between solid ground and face plant, a space that will forever live in infamy as the worst move out day ever.
Most of my larger things had been moved out the weekend before, so the plan was to pack my car full with all of the leftovers, do the walk through with my landlord, run a bunch of moving out errands, and then go off to Canandaigua for the night to support my awesome friend Karen when she ran a 5k the next morning. Then I would second shoot a wedding with another awesome friend. And then I’d drive home to figure out what, exactly, the next phase of the Face Plant of Faith looked like.
That was the plan.
What actually happened was that when I went outside to start my car so that I could move it into the driveway and start filling it up…it wouldn’t start. This is not uncommon; I nicknamed my black Ford Taurus the Black Death soon after I got it because it has a propensity for breaking down in new and creative ways whenever it feels so led. And it feels so led about every other day.
I tried to start it again and again and again…nothing. I popped the hood and looked for obvious signs of failure (like flames or exclamation points, since I have no idea what I’m looking for under there to begin with) and tried starting it again, and the Black Death decided it would give me an A for effort and start. I drove it straight to the mechanic who I had bonded with over the course of the past year (since I really was there about every other day) and asked as nicely and as desperately as possible if he could please, please, please fix my car before I had to move out. At noon.
Because he’s the best, he said he’d try, and I walked back home to continue cleaning and packing and looking at my very much un-moved belongings.
Around 11 I called to check in on the Black Death’s progress and learned that there was still plenty of work to be done so I should plan on picking it up around 4 or so. Minor setback, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome with a little ingenuity. At least I would have my car by the weekend.
I called my landlord and explained the situation, hoping that he might let me stay an extra night. But that was out of the question because the new tenant was moving in that afternoon. (Seriously. Later in this story I watch them move in from afar.) I asked if I could move my things to the basement in the house next door where all of our storage was located while I waited for my car to be done, and he graciously said yes. So I set out to take 987438972 trips from my apartment to the basement next door to temporarily store everything. Bonus parting gift: best leg workout of my life.
Then my landlord came over to do the walk through. Then he took my key. Then he locked the door. Then we left.
Then I was standing outside of an apartment I didn’t live in anymore with all of my stuff in a basement and my car at the mechanic.
At that point, I was ready to use one of my Who Wants To Be Having A Better Day? lifelines and phoned a friend, who was kind enough to come to my rescue from the other side of town. While I waited for her to arrive I went down to the basement, packed up all of my important electronics (laptop, camera bags) and important documents (including 3 magazines, because I have issues) and emerged looking like someone about to backpack through Europe for a year or five. I walked down to a local park, sat down on the bench, and waited.
That scene is the scene I would, and still do, remember every time I think about the Face Plant of Faith: sitting and talking with a homeless man at a street corner park with all of my electronics and necessary possessions strapped to my back and draped around my shoulders, no apartment, no car, and no plan. And starting to feel like perhaps, perhaps, this wasn’t going so well after all. That maybe I was in the process of making one big whopper of a mistake.
What I didn’t know then was the one thing I couldn’t fathom: that this was actually the plan. My initial conviction to take the leap wasn’t crazy. It just wasn’t going to happen like I thought it would. God had a much, much, more powerful way of telling this story over a much, much longer expanse of time. And I wasn’t failing or irresponsible or just plain wrong. I was where He intended me to be all along. In the midst of my circumstances I had forgotten the most important truth:
My life unfolds according to God’s plan, not according to my failures or victories.
When we are living into submission to God’s will, this happens:
What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. (Romans 9:11, MSG)
It’s not about what we do or don’t do. It’s about His purpose and His plan.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself when I was sitting on the park bench that day, I would tell myself a few important things.
First, I would tell myself not to get excited when picking up the Black Death from the mechanic because, spoiler alert, it would break down again a few hours later. In the Wegmans parking lot. With all of the aforementioned basement-stowed belongings inside.
Second, that no one needs 3 magazines on their person at any point in time, and especially not when she is also hauling half her body weight in electronic cargo around the city.
Third, and most importantly, I would tell myself to fight with every inch of resolve I had to not let the doubts that were starting to surface gain any ground. I would tell myself to TRUST, to remember that God’s plan for my life is based on His plan, not on my successes or stumbles, and that my present (and future) circumstances had nothing to do with the amount or intensity of God’s love for me.
He loved me enough to take me on an extended detour that I didn’t want to go on. And that love, the love that was not willing to compromise what I needed for what I wanted, might speak even more profoundly to me than the love that is evidenced by the huge blessings I’m experiencing right now.
And if I had just trusted His love and His plan all along…oh my word. This detour could have been about a thousand times easier.
But I guess that was the lesson in the story, right?