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What People Don’t Say about Change

What People Don’t Say about Change

I closed the door behind my parents as they left our two-bedroom apartment near campus.

Bows and wrapping paper, half-eaten cupcakes, stoles cords, and a tassel sprinkled the living room.

I’d gather them later; I just made a beeline to the bedroom.

Still in my graduation dress, I hopped in the bed in the fetal position and sobbed straight into my pillow.

Will and I had only been married six months, but he knew what to ask.

“Do you want to go back to school?”

A muffled “uh-huh” came through sniffs and sobbing.

It felt so alien to embrace a new routine apart from the semester-break-semester-break one I’d known since kindergarten.

A plan was in place, which should’ve provided some comfort. In two weeks, I’d be starting an internship at the college ministry where I was a student. I didn’t even know that one-year internship would precede two more years as the ministry’s assistant director.

I am that woman again (only three years older): the woman furled underneath the covers because her life is changing and a part of her isn’t ready.

Last Friday was my last day at the college ministry. Will and I are moving to New Orleans in July so that I can finish my seminary degree in the classroom rather than on the Internet.

During this season of change, I have closely identified with Isaiah 30:20-21: “Your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.’”

This is the way. I have an undeniable peace in my spirit – a peace that can only be from God.

I reassure myself that change is a good thing – even unavoidable and natural.

But whether I’m coiled up in sheets on graduation day or resignation day, change can still feel less like transition and more like displacement.

Displacement (most of the time) happens to us. We call this a passive verb in English, and this makes sense to my writer’s brain. Writers are encouraged to avoid passive verbs as much as possible.

Maybe this is why the writer in me resists being displaced.

I want to displace my own self.

To displace means “to cause something to move from its proper or usual place.”

It’s in our nature to resist seasons of displacement or change (even the exciting ones like college graduations or big moves) from our usual places. These seasons can feel lonely, uneventful, and unproductive.

I’ve felt so many emotions during the last two weeks as I’ve said goodbyes, cleaned out my desk drawers, and turned in my keys at my (now) former job.

But then I remembered: this displacement feels familiar. I’ve been here before, and I recall graduation day and the days that followed.

“Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you (Deuteronomy 8:2).” I remember God’s relentless pleas for the Israelites to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness in their displacement time after time.

I take time to remember with God – reminisce with him like an old friend.

I smile at the graduate sobbing in front of her new husband and wanting to go back to school. I smile and thank God for his faithfulness and guidance throughout the years.

Suddenly, displacement isn’t so bad as I remember – take time to remember with God.

But I admit that it’s uncomfortable. I thrive on productivity, but this girl will have no “job” to go into every day for a while (that’s another blog post) besides teaching yoga and writing stories.

When I say seasons of displacement can feel unproductive, I speak from real-time experience. Besides attending seminary full-time, I have no “plan” this time.

But God is the God who sees the woman without a plan. He is the God who meets a pregnant woman in the desert and asks, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8). Hagar responded to the former part of his question yet couldn’t answer the latter: “Where are you going?”

But God gave her an answer; God answered her with direction and purpose.

Maybe that’s all God asks from us in our seasons of displacement. Maybe all he asks is that we remember where we’ve been with him, and he provides the answers for where we’re going:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend [or feed on] faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:3-4 (ESV)

Feed on faithfulness. Delight in the Lord. These are the commands for a displaced heart ready to receive God’s desires and direction.

For the follower of Christ that abides in him, all fear in “missing God’s will” is cast aside. He is faithful to make our desires his desires.

The mystery of mysteries is the indwelling Spirit of God’s role in all of this. When our pleas for direction, our complaints of displacement, our cries for a plan feel like silent prayers hitting the ceiling, God’s Spirit in our Spirit is acting as a translator.

God’s Spirit is translating our semi-spiritual prayers into supernatural language, and he is getting it right:

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words… the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)

In all our displacement and disorientation, God simply asks us to remember. Remember and feed on his faithfulness. Take a drink from the well of his faithfulness like Hagar did in the desert.

He is the one who answers his own question of where we are going. He is the one who replaces our desires with his will. He is the one who translates my half-baked prayers into ready plans.

To the displaced furled underneath covers today, you and I are in Good Hands.

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On Discomfort

On Discomfort

This blog was in the works longer than I want to admit to you.

It’s actually undergone two redesigns since I stopped writing in my tiny corner of the blogosphere two years ago.

But Facebook updates and Instagram captions can no longer hold space for the words in my head and heart. (I’m sure my Facebook friends are thankful I’ve made this move, since my status updates are oftentimes long enough to be blog posts. This is my attempt to get away from that!)

How does the most comfortable next step for us feel like the most uncomfortable next step for us at the same time?

This is the paradox of writing for me. It’s something that I cannot completely abandon. There’s a sacred comfort in writing for me, yet there’s also a scary discomfort in releasing vulnerable words from the heart and into the world through writing.

But I’m learning that the most uncomfortable thing we’ll ever do can also be the most comfortable thing we’ll ever do—like the familiarity of pulling in your driveway, walking through your front door, and slipping off your shoes after some adventure. It feels like coming home.

It’s most comfortable because it’s that uncomfortable thing that makes you come alive—that nagging of the soul that won’t let it go.

Dare I say it feels like obedience to God Himself?

Among an audience of college students last week, I heard a pastor share three indicators that you’ve found your God-given gift:

  1. You experience joy when you use your gift.
  2. You are equipped for your gift.
  3. God affirms your gift through others.

Writing is a gift to me, and I say this because I feel like it is more of a God-given “get-to” than a me-given gift to Him or you. There is a deeply satisfying joy when we “fan into flame” (as Paul calls it in 2 Timothy 1:6) God’s gift to us.

Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote to Timothy to “fan into flame” his gift.

I think Thurman’s question is important, and writing is what makes me come alive most. It’s that space where comfort and discomfort coexist and obedience is born.

Maybe it’s in that tension between the comfort and discomfort—the now and not-yet, the under-qualified but overjoyed, the fearful but brave—where we uncover our God-gifts and take our faith-leap.

After all, we serve a God more than able to grow our wings on the way down.

What is your faith-leap?

Welcome to mine. I’m so glad you’re here.

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