losing hope

the week after my job ended continued as the weekend was: miserable.  lonely.  frustrating.  sad.  i didn’t know what to do with myself.  i felt all panicked like i had to figure something out.  i began searching for other job opportunities.  “a bank teller?  i could do that.  a barista?  i love coffee!  a nanny?  i do miss being around babies…”

i also looked into graduate school programs.  i love graphic design and one day would like to pursue a master’s in it.  or maybe go to liberty and get a graduate degree in worship ministry.  both are practical for my life and things that i enjoy.  both cost money.  both i would have to wait to start because the deadlines had past.

i could see myself doing any of the things i looked into, but when i went to bed at night (and didn’t sleep), i truly only wanted to work for habitat.  i called the headquarters that week to inquire about my job application.  i rehearsed the speech a million times in my head, trying to sell myself over the phone, hoping to just get a hold of someone who could hear my passion and my potential.  turns out, i had to leave a message for the staffing office.  so i had to wait longer.

that week i also got a phone call from the admissions director at ocean’s edge, wondering where my deposit and housing paperwork were.  i was completely honest with her and told her that i don’t think i can afford to come.  i asked that if some miracle happened and i was backed financially, when they had to receive my paperwork by.  she said the end of the week, and told me that she’d be praying for me.  i thanked her, but in my head, had written it off.  there was no way i was willing to go into more debt for a one-year program that i thought could offer me just as much learning experience as my church was offering for free.  i couldn’t justify it.

friday of that week, i was emotionally drained.  i decided to take a day of rest.  i went to the manasquan reservoir, brought my sketchbook and my bible, and spent 5 or 6 hours walking, praying, and drawing.  it was so good to get away, expend some energy, and be alone.  i didn’t take my ipod because i wanted to be able to listen for God’s voice.  as i sat quietly or walked slowly, songs kept popping in my head.  it was pretty cool.  i kept praying for direction, discernment, a sign, anything.  at the end of the day though, i still felt as lost as ever.  and as tears slipped onto my pillow that night, i tried not to lose hope.

refiner’s fire

“i’m excited to be in this position now because i can’t provide for myself so You will get the credit for whatever happens.  in You, all things are made new and i will follow You forward.”

i prayed those words on august 11 and then there’s a strange ten-day stretch of silence in my journal.  i usually journal 4 or 5 times a week.  there are so many thoughts and feelings and things i want to document.  but i remember those days as a blur of frustration, anxiety, and a short temper.  i didn’t want to write any of that down because i was hurting so much.

anxiety was running wild in my body.  i had calculated that i needed to raise almost $20,000 to pay for ocean’s edge.  that’s more debt than i’m in from 4 years at lehigh!  i love leading worship and i was being stretched and challenged musically with the worship team at shrewsbury.  was it really necessary to take out more loans to learn about music at a far away place when i could do it from home?  and that job with habitat.  i laid awake at night imagining myself working for them.  i literally couldn’t fall asleep for weeks.  i wasn’t eating.  i felt such a heaviness that i couldn’t shake.

on my last day as a vista, i still didn’t have an answer for what i was doing next.  when my bosses, friends, acquaintances, and family members asked that question, i felt like couldn’t give the “right” answer.  no one’s faces lit up when i told them i was waiting to hear back from a job i applied for with habitat or that i was considering going to school for music.  i was ashamed.  i wanted people to be proud of me, but i had nothing concrete to give them so i felt like i failed.  i heard so many amazing stories of post-service jobs, and looked at my sister and people around me and saw success.  where was my success story?

that weekend, august 21-23, i felt like i was in mourning.  haven’t cried that much in a while.  working at coastal habitat had been the only job that i actually enjoyed.  because we spent 40+ hours a week together, melissa and i had gotten so close.  my supervisors were more like parents than bosses.  i felt like i lost a family and a destiny at the end of my service term.  i should have worn black all weekend.  the worst part is i felt so alone.  i knew there were people all around me who love me and would have listened, but be it my pride, embarrassment, frustration, shyness, or some combination of the above, i chose to retreat to my lonesome and cry my nights away.  something had to change…

i had heard sermons about God putting us through fire (trials) in order to bring impurities to the surface and to refine us, but i had never actually experienced it until then.  my advice for the fire is not to pray for it to pass quickly, but to pray for strength to get through it.  you will be better, stronger, and of more faith once the trial is over!

now, all of this seems heavy and pretty depressing.  i want you to walk through this journey with me though, so i am trying to paint the picture of what was really going on.  all the while, i tried to keep a smile on my face, but those closest to me knew that there was so much hurt i was carrying.  i promise, keep reading.  my story has been incredible.

quarter-life crisis?

july 16th – i find out i did not get into the ncc protege program.  one tear snuck down my cheek because rejection hurts, but i moved on.  wasn’t meant to be.

july chugged on and as i’m reading through my journal right now, i am remembering the confusion, chaos, frustration, anger, anxiety and pain that i was carrying that month.  it felt like a quarter-life crisis.  i was sick of doing things the way they had always been done.  i didn’t know what was happening next, but i knew something must change.   a lot of the stuff is too intimate to be broadcast via blog, but maybe one day if you ask, i can tell you what was going on that month.  i fasted and prayed so many days, believing for any kind of answer to my struggles.

august 6 – i get a phone call from oe congratulating my on my acceptance.  i should have been freaking out, excited and relieved.  instead, i was just freaking out… in a bad way.  that week i had discovered that liberty university has a master’s program in worship studies that seemed so cool.  i do want to go to grad school, and i think that degree would help me get a job in worship ministry.  but i also want to pursue graphic design, and would rather have a master’s degree in that area than worship ministry.  then, i also looked into the worship school at hillsong church in australia.  i’ve always wanted to go to australia – in fact i debated studying abroad there during college.

but the kicker is, that august morning i also received an email from my americorps supervisor at habitat for humanity international, notifying me and my fellow vista (should out melissa!!) about a new full time job opening.   the position would basically be similar to hers – managing different sites and americorps members.  she thought of us because we are diligent, responsible, and have service and habitat experience.  i got SO excited when i saw that email and read the job description.  i’ve always wanted to work for habitat!  that’s why i did my americorps year to begin with.

what do i do??!  my heart and my head were being ripped in so many different directions.  more fasting.  more praying.