When God Closes a Door
I recently posted a picture on Facebook of me singing the national anthem (should that be capitalized? who knows) at our swearing in ceremony. Our country director emailed it to me and I was struck by how proud I was of where I have ended up. I decided to post the picture along with a brief explanation of what had been happening in my life 3 years (literally to the day of swearing in) prior. I got a much bigger response than I ever expected so I figured I would explain the story in more detail here.
On the actual day of our swearing in I woke up to the below picture on Facebook reminding me "Hey look this is where you were three years ago"
Where was I you ask? On a boat, headed to the Bahamas ( Daliah you will love this) Why was I on a boat? I'll get to that.
First let me tell you about the "job" I was privileged enough to have when I was a senior in college. In the August before my senior year I was asked to serve as the coordinator for an event called MOTION. What is Motion you ask? Check them out here. Motion night and Motion conference are amazing! Every year they host a conference where thousands of students come. Then on the 2nd Wednesday each month they would have Motion Nights at the main campus of the church. 1500 to 2500 students would should up each month.
August of my senior year I got the call that in three weeks time they wanted to launch Motion at my campus in Auburn. We had to assemble a team, train volunteers, market the idea to the community, design the event, and contact vendors. I can tell you right now I have never felt more called to anything in my life. I loved being able to do that day in and day out. I have never had such fun in my life. I'll tell you what, I would have lived in a cardboard box with my whole wardrobe consisting of sweatpants ( If you know me you know how I feel about wearing sweatpants) and been 100% happy. Maybe even 1000% happy.
I can only imagine that finding your purpose and living it is what being in love feels like. You just know and you suddenly feel whole. I was made for this... Or so I thought.
I had been working as the Motion Coordinator at my campus for a year. It hadn't been easy. I learned a lot about how to lead people (and how not to lead people) and a lot about myself through that journey. The girls on my team made my cry more than once, I never felt like I fit in with them and it made working together hard because I was always fighting for respect and would never get it. Looking back now It was obvious that a hierarchy needed to be established regardless of which way it went it should have been made clearer to everyone. But you live and you learn. There was room for growth on both sides.
After I graduated I didn't have a job. In my head I was convinced that I would work in this position as a volunteer until I got hired full time. I was ready to do whatever it took. I didn't really apply anywhere because I was so focused on doing this and only this. I wholeheartedly believed that God had called me to this and the in his perfect timing and way it would work out. (This is me speaking for God, which generally gets me in trouble...as I am not God) The Motion night after graduation was the best of my tenure from a logistical stand point. I was jazzed, I was so excited. I could finally give it my full attention and didn't have to worry about school and work around my class schedule. Our team was working together, we were flowing. We had worked through our issues and settled into a good place with each other. We finished set up with tons of time to spare the day of the event and it was great. I felt like it was the start of a new chapter. The best chapter. The my life was truly beginning.
A few days after that last Motion my "overseer" called me into his office. He brought his wife in to sit with us and they dropped a bomb on me. He said he thought it would be best if I stepped down. I was leaving in August anyway he said. I could stay around and continue to work in the preschool but that he just thought I wasn't what Motion needed and it would be best if I walked away.
I was totally blindsided. I was hurt,crushed. I walked out of that office and called my mom sobbing in my car. I remember telling her what happened and telling her I was coming home.
I knew that if I stayed in Auburn and watched others continue to be able to be a part of that journey and me having to sit on the sidelines would be a big problem for my mental health. Well, my sweet mother, got in a car that night and drove from Texas to Auburn.
Here comes the why behind me being on a boat. My mom, during her travels booked us a trip to the Bahamas so that I could think about my decision. She wanted me to really look into what I was doing and to make sure I wasn't just running away because I had been hurt. She wanted to give me time away to step back and evaluate the severity of the decision I was making.
We were in the Bahamas for a week. I came back knowing that I had to leave. I knew that if I stayed I would fall into a deep depression knowing my love, and my passion were visible but just out of reach.
My world was shattered. I thought I was doing great. I thought everything was going great. We exceeded all of our benchmarks and were even starting to have to put in overflow seating. I started to seriously doubt my purpose in life. Was what I thought I was made to do, something I was actually super bad at. Was I like one of thost contestants on American Idol that really wanted to sing but everyone could clearly see they were awful. I was so mad at God. I don't even think mad is the right word. I was so confused, frustrated, disappointed. I was so sure ,SO sure that this was what I was made for and then the carpet was pulled from under my feet.
It took me a really long time to even want to step back into a church. I, for the first time in my life, realized that "The Church" is made up of regular people. Not run by perfect people who are incapable of sin. But rather that the church is people and that people make mistakes and can hurt you because they to are imperfect broken beings.
Over the years since then I have grown as a person and as a Christian. Part of me is still broken and sometimes the doubt from that moment creeps back in but of course God is perfect in all things.
I moved to Austin and got an internship, then a full time job. I was adulting. I don't regret that experience. I am so so thankful that I was able to steward that event during it's beginning. I am thankful for the lessons I learned from that and oddly enough from the implosion of it. Without that I would not be who I am today. With out the fire a diamond can never be cultivated.
Fast-forward 3 years and I am in Ukraine, serving my country as a Peace Corps volunteer. I love the little ways that God reminds you he is there. I could have looked back on any number of things on any number of days and remembered my time serving in that capacity. But the fact that literally 3 years to the day I was swearing in as a Peace Corps volunteer is such proof of God's perfect timing and God's perfect plan.
That even your personal darkness, your own personal lowest of lows God uses everything for good and always has a plan to bring you out and to higher pastures. God is always with you even when you can't feel His presence.
Who could have predicted that 3 years to the day of me getting on a boat to the Bahamas I would be swearing in to the Peace Corps with a whole new outlook on life. I am so incredibly thankful for my time at Motion, and so blessed to know what it feels like to be totally fulfilled because now I know what to shoot for and I won't settle for anything less.
I know that when I face dark times to look for the lesson and to hold tight to the knowledge that God has brought me higher before and will again and again.
That though Him ALL things are possible.