Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy = Hard

I promised myself, someone, or everyone to write this particular post in August. Truthfully, I've been working it in my head for a long time. However, I felt like I never had enough "final answers" to write a comprehensive piece about the current state of my life. Not that I have all the answers now, or will ever know my future. But a few things have been decided for the next chapter of my life.

Rewind: I got a superfantasticamazing offer to live at a summer camp (Maranatha) for the rest of my life and love on people, plan giant events, design some cool things, and have quiet time on the beach under the setting sun each night. That happened in July. After realizing I might want to move away from my community, post-grad panic began to set in. I did a really excellent (read: miserable) job communicating to everyone what I was really thinking during that whole process because I honestly just didn't know.

I decided a long time ago that I never wanted to settle for anything. I use that driving thought as a sort of compass for most of the decisions in my life. Am I taking the easy route? What am I willing to sacrifice? Will this make me stronger? So naturally my new job offer in a state far, far away from the loving arms of my Cincinnati community felt like true north on my adventure compass. It hardly sounded like a piece of cake, but the job description was pretty close to my dream job. Working closely with people in a ministry, using my gifts of design, organization, and even dance to have a meaningful impact in the Kingdom.

job option A

On the other hand, I had begun mentally preparing to make Cincinnati my home since my fourth year of college. I loved that tiny NYC wannabe and its huge heart for brave little entrepreneurs and fearless creatives. After attending Crossroads Church for over 5 years, I was weaving dreams about all the ways I could infiltrate their community of servants to really give myself away, in the best sense. And finally, through a string of impossible events, my best friend picked up her life in Cleveland to move in with me. Could I leave all those possibilities for new ones?

job option B

Summer: I gave myself an ultimatum to come to some sort of decision by the end of the Maranatha season, even though I hadn't received an official offer yet. Hannah and I worked it out at Taco Bell, the best place to make any life-altering decision. I left Maranatha peaceful; deciding to wait for the official offer, pray about my future, and consider the possibility of one day moving to Michigan. That was easy to go along with for the first month of being back in Cincinnati. I missed that perfect strip of beach more than anything in the world. Who dreams of an office desk anyway? But if anyone could change their mind every single day, I certainly would.

Fall: For six months, I wrestled daily with the question, Where do I belong, Lord? By mid-October it was almost agonizing to answer my friends' kind inquiries. I wished the decision would disappear. My greatest fear has always been letting other people down or causing them great pain. Surely my absence from either place would cause that for someone?

I got the email on a Thursday during the busiest, best, most confusing week of the fall, "We're officially extending an offer at Maranatha to you." Sheer panic enveloped me. I was thriving at work by throwing myself into a charity event Landor was building from the ground up. I worked 55 hours that week and hardly noticed I was tired to the bone. New and old friends found me everywhere and my extroverted heart was overflowing. But still my mind jumped back to the sweet faces of the kids I cared for like siblings. Hannah, Ellie, Jack, Zac...I missed them so much it hurt.

"I don't want to leave," I confided in Emily the next week. I was avoiding calling Maranatha back "But the hardest things in my life have always been the right choices." She knew what past decisions I was referring to.

That weekend I turned the offer down, cried a little, and put on a happy face. Nothing was any clearer after I hung up the phone.

Winter: By December I was sick and tired of my divided mind. I took two weeks off of work, packed five bags, and skipped off to Michigan. Visiting four of my favorite Maranatha families was the vacation I needed. Although it came with more confused feelings and giant fears. After a week of bliss, I arrived at home an emotional mess. "How do I leave them behind?" I sobbed to my dad.

The beginning of the year started unusually. "Landor would like to extend you an offer," They told me. "You just have to wait." That was the catalyst. If I was still jobless (as in a freelancer or self-employed) by May, I would go to Michigan forever. I allowed myself to dream a little of a new start. But wait, what was I running from? The offer letter showed up a month later. No more stalling.

Present: "What if the easiest thing to do is actually the hardest?" I peered over my meatballs at Emily. "I finally know that staying here in Cincinnati is the thing I want the most. But I'm grieving over the idea of closing the door on adventure." Remaining here, as the city girl, close to college friends, and working in a corporate, consumer office, felt like defeat. Surely forsaking my beloved life for the wilderness and solitude of a Michigan ministry was the nobel choice. After all, the kid in me longed to run away to my safe haven once again. But...could God possibly want my wild heart right where it was?

Do hard things. Or, stop living by mantras and lay down your life before the King of Kings.

How strange to realize in this moment that I knew the His desire of my heart all along.

Today is my first day (after three years of interning faithfully) of big kid, real deal employment. Guess I'm gonna be a daughter of the Queen City King for a little longer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sacred Storm

"I finally finished this book." I thought to myself, flipping to the last page of the Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge. Then, I saw it: Epilogue. "Eh, I probably don't need to read that." I had started this book two summers ago when I first worked at Maranatha—I wasn't about to let 15 pages of afterthoughts get in the way of crossing this piece of Christian literature off my list.

"Read it, my daughter." He said.

So I did. And that's when things began making sense.

"While our heart grows in its capacity for the pleasure, it grows in its capacity to know pain. The two go hand in hand. What, then shall we do with disappointment? We can be our own enemy, depending on how we handle the heartache that comes with desire. To want [more out of life] is to suffer; the word passion means to suffer. This is why many Christians are reluctant to listen to their hearts: They know that their dullness is keeping them from feeling the pain of life. Many of us have simply not to want so much; it's safer that way. It's also godless. That's stoicism, not Christianity. Sanctification is an awakening, the rousing of our souls from a dead sleep of sin into the fullness of their capacity of life." (pg. 201)

I'm in pain because I want much from life. In fact, I want more than this life can give me. I desire to live the sacred romance.

And then the storm broke above my head.