I wrote this wordy letter this week for a friend in the midst of a big decision. What I wanted to be in the form of a conversation made its way into the form of a letter that she'll never read. She beat my letter by making her decision :)
That's okay though.
As I typed out these words, I shed a few tears. Tears of freedom and provision and joy and fear. Tears of a woman who, a year later, sees just a sliver of what God was doing with her when she felt completely broken.
So, Sarah: this letter is for you.
So, Alyssa: this letter is for you.
So, anyone: this letter is for you.
Hey! What’s up? I really wanted to be able to take you out to dinner this week - maybe even get a drink - but I totally get that you have a lot going on.
Family in town. Rec department to manage. Big decisions to make.
I get it. I just wanted to share a little bit of my story, of how I ended up at Berea...and some of the wise words that other people shared with me as I tossed and turned over my decision.
Last May, I was miserable. (Well, honestly, it started back in December of 2014 but we’ll pick the story up in May.) I was miserable doing my work, I was depressed. I was angry at four million things that had happened over the last several years with the camp that I was working at. I felt unappreciated, taken advantage of, and completely unheard.
So, in May, I sat down with the director and his wife and cried as I told them that it was time for me to go. I handed in my letter of resignation and I had no future prospects, no ideas or leads. The only thing I knew is that I wasn’t supposed to be there any more.
The month before this, I had lunch with Andy at Noodles and Company. I told him that I wanted to leave and I didn’t know what was next but that I loved Greenhouse and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to do it full-time. We dreamed about the team we’d have and the ministry that we would do. It was sweet but impossible.
And then, sometime in late June, Andy texted me and wanted to talk. I called him on my lunch break from my front steps and he told me about Greenhouse and Berea and how he’d be joining staff, how it seemed like this little-big dream might come true.
And then he told me that Nate was interested in hiring me. Which, like, no way. That is impossible. Also, New Hampshire? I mean. I don’t know.
So, I started dreaming and praying and journaling. I talked with Nate on the phone, asked him a million questions after he asked me a trillion questions. And then I decided to come and visit. Did you know that I was here last summer? It was just over a year ago. I know because it came up in my TimeHop. I drove up and my prayers shifted from, “God, if this is what you want…” to “God, if this is not what you want…”
I sat in on a Counselor’s Meeting, I walked around during Quest times. I sat down with Nate and talked in his office. We talked about my skills and my personality and I felt like I didn’t have any of the answers to his questions. We talked about moving to New Hampshire and he asked if I was ready for that. I wasn’t.
Nate and I talked for a while. Afterwards, Veronica and I walked to the hexagon and sat down to talk. At this point, my heart was racing and my mind was spinning and all I could think was, “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.”
No, I’m not ready.
No, I don’t know that I want this.
No, I don’t know that I want to stay in camping.
No, Jesus, please.
Here I was, weeks away from one job ending and this was it. My only prospect (and it was a really good one) and I wanted to say no. I wanted to say no but I felt like I needed to say yes...and I couldn’t bring myself to say yes.
I left Berea not long after and drove home in tears.
Why was I so confused?
Why didn’t I have peace about anything?
Why wasn’t God providing for me?
Wasn’t I being obedient to let something go?
Driving home, I knew that I wasn’t ready for Berea. I wasn’t really ready for anything. I needed a break (which seems ridiculous to say at 27). So I called my good friend who was heading back to work after a six month maternity leave and said, “Hey, I know that I have no childcare experience...but maybe I can watch your baby for a while?”
She said, “I don’t know why but this just feels right!”
I called Nate to tell him that I was taking a break and he said, “I think that is a very wise thing,” and agreed to leave me alone until December.
So, thus began my stint as a nanny. Mostly it was just a six month period that I spent snuggling that cute little baby and snuggling with Olive when she went down for a nap. It was so, so wonderful.
In October, I saw Nate again at Simply Worship. We talked and I told him that I was leaning towards no. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do the camp thing again. I tried to explain the reasons and honestly couldn’t because none of it made sense.
I cried the whole way home because I knew that I wanted what Jesus wanted but only if it meant having everything that I wanted. That hurt in a soul shaking kind of way, in a terrifying way.
I emailed Nate a few days later:
It was so nice to see you (and Jonathan and Amanda!) at Simply Worship this weekend. This whole Greenhouse and Berea merger is so exciting!
Thank you for inviting me to be real with you and for just being an all around awesome guy. Seriously. I wanted to let you know that my mind has been running a million miles a minute since we talked briefly on Saturday.
I've realized that so many of my feelings about beginning a new adventure are totally clouded with fear, completely irrational fear. I want to live a faithful life, not a comfortable one. I want to serve Jesus and His Church. I want to serve Him with my gifts...and I see Berea as an amazing place to serve, grow, and walk out that calling.
Anyways, I wanted to just say thank you for your patience with me and my crazy. (I swear that I am not always like this!) I really am continuing to pray and seek the Lord about this-- the last several days have been "yes to Berea!" days.
Let's talk soon!
I had a decision to make: follow the path put before me by the Lord or choose something else. Would that choice be sin? No, probably not.
I had coffee with Andy sometime after that to talk about all of this craziness. He told me, “If you’re 75% sure, that’s enough. Every decision is a risk.”
I was 75% sure so I jumped in...and here I am.
I will not tell you that this decision or transition has been easy. My life feels full, in a way, but it also feels super weird and somewhat vacant without my friends and my family here. But I know that I am where I’m supposed to be. Do I think that Berea is forever? No, probably not. But I am here until God calls me away.
I hope that this helps you in some way. I just felt like I needed to share it. Mostly I want you to know that this is a big decision but it isn’t the ultimate decision. Whatever choice you make will be a good one, just don’t let your fear make decisions for you.