I’ve been using this space to share my story. After dragging it on for far too long, this is the last installment of the series. In case you missed it, the other parts can be found here:
This post, like the last one, is a bit harder (chronologically) to write. Nearly daily, I’m filled with overwhelming joy and gratitude regarding where I am… but it’s hard to put that feeling into words. It feels something like sitting on a couch in a warm house with a cup of hot tea and no lights except the Christmas tree. You know that feeling in your chest when the sun is setting over a lake, or there are a million stars, or a baby smiles at you? That’s the kind of joy I’m talking about. Yeah… a little different than last year at this time!
I live in Hillsdale County now. After a few weeks of babysitting, a month living with my grandpa, two ill-fated days as a cashier at Dollar General, and a lot of second guessing, I got a fulltime job as a receptionist at a substance abuse counseling center. The story of how I got this job is a TOTAL God-thing. I quit the DG job on a Thursday night, not sure exactly why I was quitting or what I was going to do. Crossroads’ leadership retreat was that weekend, and I said “Okay, God, I’m not even thinking about a new job until Monday.” That weekend, a woman I’ve known for years asked where I was working. One thing led to another, and within two weeks I was sitting at a new desk and answering a new phone.
On Sunday and Tuesday nights, I volunteer at Crossroads Farm. If you were sitting in front of me, you would see my eyes light up as I mentioned this. It is my life. I have 14 girls who I lead a discussion group for, stay in contact with, and cheer on at games/in life. Sometimes I help in the tech booth, sometimes I hold cups of disgusting food while Paul makes the kids taste them, and sometimes I dress up like an alien. Those nights are the highlight of my weeks, and I feel like I’ve truly found my niche in ministry there.
I live in an apartment above a store in “downtown” Reading. After two roommates fell through, I decided to live alone. If you’re an introvert like me, I highly recommend this. My neighbor smokes in our shared stairwell and we have built a friendship on passing hellos and small talk. Today when my car was iced shut he put his heavy coat on and came outside to help me at 7:30 am. The lady who owns the laundromat leaves the back door unlocked for me so I don’t have to walk as far to my car, my best friend works less than a block away, and the post lady is related to me.
I’ve discovered a love for cooking. My crock pot is my favorite, and the best Christmas gift I received was a set of knives. One of my greatest joys is having people over for dinner. Shauna Niequist has a beautiful piece in her book Bread and Wine about throwing the doors open despite the mess and saying “come, eat, share life with me,” and this is what I am trying to do. Since I’ve written a lot of words, here’s a picture of my first dinner party (with some other college students who volunteer at Crossroads)
I’ve found a home church (Westwinds) that I absolutely LOVE. My best friends live in the same county as me now, and I actually get to SEE them on a regular basis. Aunt and uncles, cousins, my grandpa, and various other extended family members have become friends. Living on my own is a lot less intimidating when I know I have a support system literally spanning the county.
All of these things are huge blessings, but they are also things God has used to draw me back to Himself. Though there are still aspects of theology that I struggle with, I’m learning to be secure and confident in what I DO believe. Rather than getting hung up on the questions (though questions are okay! God can handle them!), I am resting in the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine (HI JOCIE).
There’s not a conclusion to this story, because I’m still living it. I could write hundreds more words about the ways God has romanced, chased, angered, taught, held, loved, hurt, and nourished me. I could talk for days about all that has changed and is changing. But I’m not the only one.
Since I posted the first part of this series, I have received several facebook messages and talked to several people in person who said “that’s me. I’ve been there.” This is the reason I am sharing my story; to show you that you’re not alone. You are living your story, not anyone else’s. You are loved and you are not alone. Live it. Breathe. Savor the sun. And when you’re ready, share it. You never know who needs to hear it.