2019

Beyond Measure

I suppose I’m a bit like everyone else out there when it comes to the approach of a new year. I get reflective – more reflective than usual, I mean – and I begin to ponder what the upcoming year is going to look like. The funny thing about that is that I know that the year is probably not going to end at all like what I envisioned in the beginning. I can look back to this these last few days of December over the past four or five years and I see the same pattern. And truth be told, 2019 is one of the first years that when I think ahead – I don’t really have a clear vision.

That’s not to say that I don’t have goals for this year or things that I’d like to work towards, because that’s not the case at all. These past few months have created a new sense of appreciation for detours and a beautiful acceptance in my heart. The road may diverge from where we think it is leading us, but the journey is good and holy and full of beautiful work.

From 2014-early 2018, I was in this season of preparation where I truly felt so in tune with what I felt like God was asking me to step into that I never even considered that possibility that He might change the plans on me. And when He did? Well, that’s how I ended up here. In a city that I’d once prayed that He would send me to but never did. In a job that I’ve spent five years thinking I’d be leaving.

I began 2018 believing that I was going to end up in Central Illinois for grad school and I’m ended it here in Central North Carolina. As Annie F. Downs writes in her most recent book, Remember God, “sometimes when you’re following God, even doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing can still land you in the wrong spot. Or at least not get you where you wanted to go. And yet sometimes, those are the best stories He tells. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. True for me.”

And for me.

As I sit here now, on day three of a new year, I do not believe that I landed in the wrong spot. Different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But those words that Annie wrote in her book, this book that reached me at the perfect time, are certainly true for me. My walk with God is full of stories of Him using detours and heartbreak to create something hopeful and it gives me all the feels.

Life today looks differently than what I thought it would a year ago. And I will probably be saying the same thing this time next year. But today I’m crazy grateful for our God who consistently gives beyond measure and who chooses answers years-old prayers instead of my newer ones.

Remember God

We say it every year, but where has the time gone?? Here we are on the downward slope to 2019 and in a lot of ways it feels like 2018 only just got started.

2018 has been a big year for me I guess, which I did kind of expect going into it. I’m in a much different place, literally and figuratively, today than I was a year ago. The beginning of 2018 had me sending off applications to grad school in central Illinois and to child life internships across the Southeast. I prayerfully sent them off, assuming that God would send me off to one of those destinations in Fall 2018. But in the Spring, I realized that this path – even though I thought I had heard the directions from the Lord so clearly – was not going to be coming to fruition. I still felt a change stirring within me and I felt the pull to look for other jobs in other cities. So, in April/May the path aligned so smoothly for me to accept a new teaching position in Raleigh, NC. It all fell into place so well and I found myself spending the summer preparing for a move from Charlotte to Raleigh to live with my sister.

 

Remember God

Summer 2018 held a lot of expectations, I admit. I created this vision of what my new life in Raleigh was going to be like as I basked in the sweetness of feeling like I was so in tune with God’s calling for my future. And I think I was in tune, even though now that I am looking at the end of 2018 and life doesn’t look anything like I thought it was going to back when it started. In hindsight, I don’t think that I necessarily heard Him wrong but I think God, in His infinite wisdom, definitely nudges towards other things that are going to serve us better. Rather than send me to Illinois for grad school – where I know absolutely no one – He sent me to Raleigh to live with my sister, where I already knew a fair amount of people, and to a job where I already knew one of my co-workers from college. I know God provides protection to all, but it feels particularly true about my walk with Him.

I’ve realized in recent weeks, as I’ve come to acknowledge this feeling of being slightly “off-kilter” and something just feeling off, I’ve realized that at some point I mixed up the feeling of being expectant and having expectations. Somewhere along the way, I shifted from being expectant and hopeful of what God was going to do through this change and transition to creating my own expectations of what He would do.

Two very different things.

To me, the state of being expectant is to release control, leave room for vulnerability, and approach life with open hands that are ready to accept whatever comes. In contrast, having expectations means that there is a set outcome that we are envisioning, rather than embracing the mystery that comes with new experiences….

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