Within the past eight weeks I’ve gone through a break-up, the death of my childhood pet, and moving my entire life to a new city.
Phew. I’m exhausted just by writing that.
So, let’s begin with the first major life event: a break-up. Ouch. Yes, to clear things up…it happened without my wanting it. In other words, I was dumped (I can hear the tiny pride monsters inside of me yelling in agony as I tell the world this). To put it simply, I was in a relationship that I was fully convinced was going somewhere…far…and beautiful…and yea.
Towards the end of the (unbeknownst to me) short fairytale, I kept hearing things from my (soon to be ex) boyfriend like, “we have different passions”, “you’re meant to live a life completely sold out for God, and I’m not. I just want to be a business man”, “you deserve to be with someone who wants to travel the world with you and do full-time ministry.”
Of course, at the outset of my relationship, these things weren’t issues. Everyone (including the Mr. and most likely you, reading this) knew/knows Jesus then travel are my passions. For a quick moment these passions became my boyfriend’s passions…superficially, of course. But that’s what happens when you fall for the trap of premature infatuation: you do a lot of well-intentioned pretending. For quite a while we scratched, clawed and fought through our differences, desperately trying to make the saying, “opposites attract” our personal testimony.
Needless to say, it didn’t work. One of the final words that resonated in my mess of an emotional mind was, “I love you. That’s why I can’t do this. I can’t live knowing that I’m holding you back.” Those words stung like a jellyfish’s tentacles wrapping tightly around my insides. What was especially painful was that deep down inside I knew he was right. I didn’t want to be held back. Ever since I began my walk with Jesus, my life has been an overwhelming journey of freedom, faith and adventure. The thought of saying goodbye to living a life of “wherever God takes me” was terrifying…but I was already committed to my relationship, and walking away from another failed one scared me more than boarding a plane to fly lonesome half way across the world (which I’ve done way too many a time).
“HOLDING ME BACK FROM WHAT?!” was the question on repeat. I begged him, God and even my own self to formulate an answer.
Thanks to the faith that I have that can’t be shaken—not at all because of me, but because of Jesus who has given it to me—I’ve experienced that God never closes one door without opening another one, so I knew that if He was going to close this door, something else was in store.
But you see, little did I know that the entire time a door had already been wide open, I was just waiting for the perfect moment to walk through it.
Prior to the beginning of my romantic endeavor, I had planned on going to grad school…well, seminary, to be exact. And for those of you who read the word ‘seminary’ and think: Catholic, life of celibacy and nun….NO—that’s not the seminary I’m referring to (St. Brendan in the house?) Seminary, for the rest of us, is grad school in preparation for a life of ministry…whether that be a church leader, a counselor, a missionary, or basically anyone that plans to live a life that’s not your typical American dream pursuit…a life that’s meant to be lived solely for the purposes of Kingdom work.
Anyways, after traveling for leisure and missions on the regular, starting a children’s ministry in an under-resourced neighborhood in Miami, and mentoring girl after girl in learning Scripture and living radically, I knew that my life had a distinct calling. My original plan was to get ministry training after my travels, and begin pursuing my calling…whatever that was.
….but instead, I met a boy. He was an attractive and smart boy, who woo-ed my little heart after a few months of dinner dates and long conversations about Jesus. Before I knew it, I decided that falling in love was a way better choice than pursuing my calling (silly, I know, but love…even the idea of it…sometimes does crazy things to you.)
And so, I began my lovescapade and forgot the plan of school altogether. But we all know how this story ends…God is relentless. When you think you’re telling Him “no”, running the opposite direction and getting your way…what happens? You get eaten by the (in my case, proverbial) whale then get spit out and end up doing what you were supposed to do in the first place (Jonah, anyone?)
My relationship was my whale and getting spit out was my getting dumped. But God was pretty clear in all of it…He didn’t just have my lover end it with me because I had things I needed to work on (even though I totally do). God made it specific—I got dumped because God wasn’t done with me. There was a whole new chapter to begin…new doors to walk through, new people to meet, new things to learn, and in my case, even new places to live.
The day before being spit out by my whale, I had two important conversations. One was with my mentor, who, once my relationship ended confessed, “I knew he was holding you back. But it’s not my job to tell you that, it’s my job to make you figure that out on your own.” (Which I then heard from so many close friends who had believed the same. THANKS, people! Ha, just kidding.) She asked me what my plan B was if my relationship wouldn’t work out. “Well, before getting into a relationship I had planned on going to seminary…begin preparing for a life of ministry.” “Ah! Yes! That sounds more like you. Great! Start exploring your options,” she told me on the day before my very own D-day.
That same night a person who knows me, but not too personally, asked me why I hadn’t started seminary, “I thought everyone knew you were called to ministry?” That question, plus my mentor's honesty had me up all night praying, “Everyone knows I’m called to a life of ministry? If this is true, God, I don’t want to do anything else. Make it clear, please.”
And clear He did. The very next day, my love life as I knew it came to an official end. It was creepy, almost as if God had actually heard my prayer (ha, welcome to the life of a Christian…all sorts of creepy…in a good way.)
Well, needless to say, I did what I had to...and here I am, writing my test-to-testimony story to you while sitting at a hipsters-paradise coffee shop in the city of New Orleans, aka my new home.
And this is just the beginning, folks.
Have you been swallowed and spit out by your own whale lately? If so, it can feel like a slammed door, but don’t let the opportunities of other doors swinging wide open go by without your walking through them.
Until next time!