Two years ago, I sat in my parents’ basement and wrote a blog post. I had just moved out of my first apartment, left my first job in ministry, and I felt like I was falling apart. I was 27 going on 28.
I was embarrassed, feeling like I couldn’t hack it, like I’d failed. Feeling like What kind of a person moves back in with their parents on 27? I was terrified, not really sure where or what God was going to call me to next. I was exhausted from ministry, from life, and from my unmet expectations.
I spent the next six months watching a beautiful little baby (who subsequently taught me everything that I know about babies). We walked every day, we journaled, we worshipped, we baked a lot of banana bread. We sat in quiet and relished in all of the not doing happening in my life.
Two friends and I dreamed Conversations Around the Table into existence, lovingly called it CAT, and poured ourselves into creating community.
Six months being ministered to, healing my soul, and learning to live with empty hands. And then God said, “Leave.”
Now, two years later, here I am. Sitting in my parents’ guestroom, the room that was my bedroom for a dozen years and then for another six months, still trying to figure all of this out.
I used to think that life was a puzzle. I assumed that my life was just a single, thousand piece puzzle and I had to work to piece it together, adding pieces as they came, shuffling them around as life evolved. As life changed, as people came and went, as obscure details became more clear, I assumed that the pieces would start to fit together. I assumed that once I found one piece that worked, all of the others would start to fall into their place.
I assumed that if I obeyed Jesus everything would be easy.
I assumed that if I took a job that seemed perfect, every day would be rewarding and fulfilling.
I assumed that if I took a job in New Hampshire, finding a church would be easy.
I assumed that if I moved out of the Valley, I’d finally meet a boy.
I assumed that if I left all of my friends, I’d meet a million more to fill the void.
These days, I feel like I’ve been handed a new puzzle. I had worked so long to try to make the other one work, to try to make the pieces fit together and now I am starting from scratch. This puzzle has been slow, oftentimes lonely, to piece together - even as I’ve just tried to form the outer frame.
But at least once a week, I remember something that God taught me during that six months. Things about sabbath and purpose and how my loveliness and dearness to Him is not because of my rule-following or ministry-doing. Things about myself and my brokenness and my sin-nature and yet also about the gifted parts of me. Sometimes these are things that don’t seem new, lessons I’ve learned times ten, but sometimes, even these 18 months later, they storm in and break down walls with their newness.
My life has been ravaged by the goodness of God.
Even in the calling away.
Even in the taking away.
Even in the walking away.
Obedience is not glamourous, this I know. I have flailed and failed and fallen on my face. I have doubted and regretted and wanted to take it all back but His providence is not dependant upon my obedience. What is, is my ability to see all of His goodness.
I’ve been reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for the first time and every day, after several paragraphs of very self-centered journaling, it absolutely wrecks me.
Ministering in everyday opportunities that surround us does not mean that we select our own surroundings— it means being God’s very special choice to be available for use in any of the seemingly random surroundings which He has engineered for us. The very character we exhibit in our present surroundings is an indication of what we will be like in other surroundings.
The things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God’s power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done.
Life is still pretty confusing and so not how I imagined it would be, even as I watch the days before my thirtieth birthday tick away. But some days, I catch a quick glimpse of all that I get to do, all the people that I get to meet, all of the gospel I get to share, through this simple, boring life - moments that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t moved back in with mom and dad or if I hadn’t moved to New Hampshire or had not said, “Yes, Jesus. I want to follow You - even though it’s hard, even when it's hard.”