“I’m scared. Scared of losing money, comfort, stability, the changes that would follow…” were the words out of my mouth between gasps for air during my 15-mile run with a friend a couple of weeks ago. (No, 15 is not a typo. This whole training for a marathon thing is kicking me in the rear real good.)
I was describing my desire to leave my job in marketing. This job landed in my lap and provided The Next Thing when I decided to take a year off from teaching. It has treated me so well and, from an academic standpoint, taught me more than my 3.5 years of college did. It has been our primary source of income and provided financial abundance that has allowed us to travel more, eat out more, as well as give more. We have been extremely grateful.
Prone to anxiety, panic attacks began to occur as the tension increased day after day. I was longing for more time to write, more space to make room for a foster child, and a slower rhythm. I made pros and cons lists with E’s help. (Have I mentioned I make pro/con lists for everything? Including whether or not to Swiffer my floors before friends come over…)
Neither of us interested in more money, more profound titles, climbing a societal ladder, or a busier travel schedule, the decision was plain as day. I could to choose to follow my heart in pursuit of things that matter more to me in this season of life or let fear hold me back.
“Maybe fear is an indication of exactly where you ought to go,” said my wise, somehow not breathless, friend in response to my ramblings about being scared but desperate to be out of limbo. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but her words wouldn’t quit ringing in my ears as we exhausted ourselves and I made my way back to South Ashland Avenue where a warm shower called my name.
As I stood in the shower letting the steam open my pores and the water wash over my fatigued body, I thought about what she said and then about a conversation I had just a week prior with a woman over three times my age.
Karen Mains and I met because she and her husband are regular 8 o’clockers at Soul City Church. A woman in her eighties and a twenty-five-year old are an unlikely duo at any coffee shop, but there we were. She wanted to meet because she had ideas on how to create more intentional community within our church and I, being the First Impressions Coordinator, was the most appropriate person to receive them. Although Karen’s ideas were wonderful and our time together was productive by several definitions of the word, one thing in particular that she said to me on our walk out made a lasting impression that have been ringing in my ears ever since.
“I am aware that I only have a limited number of years left in me, so anymore I don’t waste a minute. When David [her husband] and I get an idea, we act on it. We don’t wait. We can’t afford to.”
Her honesty and urgency to do whatever it is that God puts on her heart was so motivating. I remember thinking how I don’t need to wait until I’m an elderly woman to live like Karen. Only God knows if I would even have that many years. She had awakened an urgency in me.
With our home study underway to the seal the deal on fostering, an itch to get my larger writing projects (it’s scary calling them both books when they still feel so chicken-scratch) out onto bookshelves, the wise words of my friend’s swirling around in my mind, and a ton of anxious, open-eyed prayers, I made a decision.
The conversation wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d worked it up to be in my mind. (I really should stop predicting the responses of others.) I kid you not, I sprung around our kitchen and living room like my 3-year-old nephew, full of endless energy, after the “hard” conversations were over with. E laughed and I rode the high for as long it lasted.
Hard choices are necessary to move on to The Next Next Thing, but wouldn’t it be even harder to choose to do nothing? To remain, to settle, to endure while watching life pass you by?
I’m telling you all of this not to celebrate me and the fact that I’m doing what I know in my heart to be right, but to remind you that if I can do it, so can you! You can make hard choices. You are not stuck. God will provide. You can trust Him! Isn’t it so much better to lean NOT on your own understanding or your own hard work or your own striving? Whenever I offer up the heavy load I’ve been dragging along, God not only takes it, but he offers me water and a safe place to rest. He welcomes the chance to take care of His children. He is a good Father.
To say I’m excited is the understatement of my twenty-fifth year of life. I will carry on in my part-time role at Soul City Church and I’m going to squeeze out every ounce of effort I’ve got in me to finish well in my final days at my marketing job. I can’t wait to see what The Next Next Thing teaches me and to share it with you every step of the way.
To this, I propose a cheers (with our free glasses of agua, of course)!
PS. My friend Abbie Meyer, has been sharing about the journey she and her husband have been on for the last year in regards to palms-open living when it comes to finances especially. She shared a pretty neat post here if you’re serious about living off little.