Sometimes what we want isn’t what we get, and sometimes what we get is even better.
WHAT I WANTED: passion for work + ministry
HOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPEN: doing full time ministry; specifically by going on Young Life staff
WHAT GOD GAVE ME: passion for work + ministry… and really good friends
In late 2015 I was feeling burned out. I worked more than 40 hours each week and often felt drained on the nights Danny and I drove to Kings for Young Life events. I knew that I loved doing ministry through Young Life, and wasn’t feeling much purpose in my full time job, so I assumed that God might have been calling me to interview for Young Life staff so that my time and energy could go towards the thing I loved (ministry) rather than feeling like my life was split in two.
The interview process was several months long and throughout it I was praying and asking God for affirmation in this decision. I never really heard a clear yes or no, so I took the silence as a “yes” from God. After all, it was full-time ministry I was considering. How could God not approve of me choosing to do full-time ministry?
In the spring of 2016, I was offered a position on Young Life staff, and because I had been waiting on this offer for over six months, I accepted without hesitation. Taking the position meant leading at Loveland High School beginning in the fall, which was exciting. But, in the days to follow, I began to feel really uneasy about the decision I made. For the first time since beginning to pursue the idea of full-time ministry, I felt like God was asking me to reconsider. At first I was nervous that my apprehension about the position was rooted in fear, so I tried to ignore it. But the more time I spent talking to God about it, the more peace I felt in the fact that I needed to back away from the thing I thought would change everything (full-time ministry). Because I declined the position, nothing about my day-to-day life changed: I kept my job, Danny and I continued to lead at Kings High School as volunteers, and I felt drained doing both, but now with added feelings of confusion, embarrassment, and sadness.
About two months after declining the Young Life position, I met my current boss, Sam, and began interviewing for a position at High Five Salon. That’s another story, but in the summer of 2016, I completely changed career paths and started managing a hair salon. My job isn’t “full-time ministry,” but I have a better understanding that our life is ministry whether or not we get paid to do it. I have capacity to spend time with girls after school and can say with thankfulness that my job at High Five and Young Life ministry in Kings both fuel my passions.
This year, some of quite-possibly my very favorite friends I’ve ever known through high school ministry (this might be a dramatic overstatement, but like, they’re very special to me) are graduating from Kings High School. They feel like co-leaders, little sisters, partners in ministry, and life-long friends. I recently realized that if I would have accepted the position with Young Life in 2016 and led at Loveland, I wouldn’t know them. They started their freshman year 4 months after I said no to Young Life staff, right in the thick of my confusion and embarrassment and sadness towards God. I didn’t meet them all right away and our friendship didn’t quickly blossom; it was slow-growing but is now an image of God’s graciousness and kindness in my life. Isn’t that how fruit often grows?
I thought I wanted a re-ignited passion for ministry through making it my job, but God taught me that his job is re-igniting my love for who he is. And he gave me a really kind gift of friendship to let me know he was in it with me the whole time.
Thinking about these girls and the fact that we almost missed each other made me realize that God is showing up and changing me in the midst of the things I don’t yet know. Danny and I have been trying to get pregnant for about twenty months now. Sometimes I feel like a broken record because I love to write about things I’m processing and my situation has stayed the same for a while, so it’s what I often write about. But then I remember that it’s the song God has written for me, so maybe the record isn’t broken at all.
If you’re not in a season of life where this directly applies (sup, college guys), I hope you’ll keep reading anyway, because I believe God has something for you in between the lines of my story.
WHAT I WANT(ED): a child
HOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPEN: well, we all took middle school health class
WHAT GOD GAVE ME: more of him! and a deeper belief that I’m his daughter
By the world’s standards, this part of my story doesn’t have a happy ending tied in a bow. We mistakenly label something “a blessing” only when the outcome matches what we were hoping for. Someday when we have a baby, we’ll call it a blessing. But what if the real blessing is happening right now? We allow ourselves to celebrate what God has done when there’s visible fruit to show for it. But I don’t want to miss out on celebrating all the fruit he’s grown in me over the last twenty months even if there hasn’t been a birth announcement. My body hasn’t grown a baby, but I’ve grown in the Holy Spirit.
When you put your hope in college and then graduate with honors and move into your dorm, you’ll wonder what’s next. When you put your hope in marriage and then get engaged and plan your perfect wedding, you’ll wonder what’s next. When you put your hope in a dream job and then nail the interview and finish your first day, you’ll wonder what’s next. I promise that when your hope is in anything other than Jesus, you’ll get tricked into thinking that the perfectly-located apartment is what you want, and then a husband to share it with, and then a puppy, and then a house with a yard for the puppy, and then a baby because you have an extra bedroom, and then a couple more babies so they can grow up together, and then the the same things you hoped for yourself but now for your kids and the cycle of hoping for bigger + better will never end.
But when your hope is in Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven, everything he ever gives you is an added bonus. You’ll become less entitled to receive gifts and more entranced by the one who gives them.
When I’m sad, it’s easy for me to believe that God tells me “no” a lot; easy to believe he’s holding out on me. But when I step back and look at the way my story has been woven together, I think the most fruitful seasons have equally been the hardest. They are the seasons that start with me holding tightly on to exactly what I think I want while God loosens my grip finger-by-finger until my hand is open and empty. And it’s in that posture — hands open — that I’m ready to receive the very thing I actually want and desperately need: more of him.
If you’re in a season marked by mystery, you’re not alone. I can’t wait for you to look back on this years from now and piece together what God was doing with you. And in the meantime, know that you don’t have to wait for a happy ending tied in a bow because the gift is God and he’s in the waiting.