Dear New York City,
You have been “home” in my heart ever since I moved here for the first time three years ago. I fell in love (almost instantly) with your beauty, your freedom, your people, and the sense and feeling of significance you gave me. I convinced myself that I needed you like I needed air.
I moved back to be with you again three months ago. Quietly and noncommittally (two suitcases worth of clothes, a temporary agreement to continue my job remotely to keep me afloat financially while I looked for a new job, and a sublet expiring at the end of May), because truthfully, I didn’t actually know for certain that it was the right decision for me. What I did know, was that some part of me still loved you, and hadn’t quite learned how to let you go. Similar, although different, to how a breakup with very little closure feels. So I chose to step out in faith to figure out exactly what it was that made something in my heart so desperately want to be with you — knowing that Jesus would be with me (regardless of whether or not it was the “right” thing to do) and that I’d either fall easily back into stride and feel affirmed in my decision and called to stay, or that I’d hit a quick and painful dead-end, and realize that it was finally time for me to let you go. With peace and assurance — not fear, doubt or hesitation… like the last time I left you. I was praying for the first set of circumstances. Praying hard from the moment I decided to move back that you’d open doors that would make it easy for me to stay. Not really believing, because I loved you so much, that the second set was even an option.
But sometimes, when we’re brave enough to take big leaps, we forget (or we’re blinded by things like pride or excitement) that we’re risking even bigger falls.
Here’s my honesty hour, friends…
Hard and painfully, and without remembering to protect myself at all. I searched for every single small sign that I was meant to stay here, but came up short.
Just three months after moving back, I’m about to leave you. Again.
I’m moving my stuff home to Michigan on Monday, transitioning out of my job next week (without a new job lined up), and trying to make sense of why I walked myself into this season of unstable uncertainty in the first place. While to some (and to me, when I’m not careful) it may look like admitting defeat, the beauty of knowing Jesus is that when we hit (what we think is) rock bottom, He meets us there in good and beautiful and powerful ways we never saw coming. And starts to rebuild something in our lives and in our hearts that’s so much greater than what we were building ourselves.
So this time, when I leave, it’ll be with peace and confidence and assurance (but also, rightly so, with lots of fear). Because what I want more than anything, and what has been revealed to me since moving here (and truthfully, what I think only moving back here with fresh eyes really allowed me to see) is for Jesus to move into and take up residence in the space of my heart I let you live in for three years. I still love you, New York City, and probably always will, but I love Jesus more. And always will.
Although my life feels like a mess right now — and for those who have been walking with me for the past few weeks, I can’t tell you how much and how deeply I appreciate you holding me in ways I can’t hold myself — here are the things I know. Because when you’re in such an intense season of uncertainty (and if you’re anything like me), it helps to make a list of things you know for sure. (Believe me, if you’re hurting and wanting answers, this helps.)
– Jesus is good. He always is and always will be. He works for my good. Always. He chooses me even when I don’t choose him. Over and over again. He forgives me for things I struggle to forgive myself for, and He works in those things to help me grow closer to and lean into Him more. He knows my heart and my desires because He created me. He takes my heart very seriously and never intentionally taunts or teases me. He wants the ultimate, eternal best for me, always. I may not get the privilege, right now, of knowing or seeing the big picture story He is writing, but at the end of the day, I can have confidence that He’ll never stop fighting for my heart. What a beautiful assurance.
– Because of Jesus, I am freed from any and all guilt or shame or embarrassment I could ever feel about moving back here, only to leave again three months later. I’m free to admit that I hit a painful dead-end, but that it’s far from the end of my story.
– I’m free from the pressure to “explain” myself to anyone. Sure, I get that people may be confused. (I am too.) And that moving three times in the course of three months is a little crazy. (Why can’t she learn to stay? Why isn’t she content and what is she looking for?) But what I do know is that because I know Jesus, I get to walk in freedom… knowing that although it seems crazy to most people who aren’t me, the only true opinion that matters is what Jesus thinks of me and my heart. And if I’m taking steps that lead me into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him, that’s all the affirmation and hope I need. *I say this not to dismiss myself from processing with people I love and accepting wise counsel and criticism (I’m doing lots of that too, believe me), but because I think that’s something we all need to be reminded of. Especially when we live in a culture where we’re expected to “announce” new jobs and “prove” ourselves and our accomplishments more than ever before. At the end of the day, Jesus’ opinion and my pursuit of Him is the only one and the only thing that really matters.
– I’ve never felt so hungry for more of Jesus. I’ve never experienced a season where I want to know Him more intimately. I’ve never felt Him in the real and tangible way I feel Him holding me in the palm of His hand from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. Praise God for revealing more of Himself to me not because of what it will produce, but simply because He loves me with a kind of unconditional love I can’t even fathom.
– God isn’t calling me to be awesome, He is calling me to be faithful. He is awesome, He is magnificent, He is writing the story, and He invites me to play a small, but extremely meaningful, part of it. What an honor.
– In all my questioning and confusion about what’s next for my career and where I’m supposed to live, I can find comfort and clarity in knowing that I have been called, above all else, to love God and to love people. That’s it. I’m still wrestling with what that means and what the Lord is revealing to me while I lean into that more… But what I do know is that it’s become pretty clear over the past few weeks that Jesus wants me deep in the trenches. More than ever before, I am so confident that I’m meant to be in the business of broken hearts. Deep in the stories and hearts of young women, helping them seek and know and love Jesus more. Loving and revealing to them, just as He has revealed to me, how much He loves them and how faithful He is in healing broken hearts and broken stories. (That gives me chills.)
– I have a plan for the month of June, and then after that, I get to lift my hands and trust God to open doors and opportunities that allow me to love God and love people as a full time job. For the next few weeks, I get to hop from New York to Colorado to Arizona, and then overseas to Ireland/England/Scotland (!!!) to spend time with people I love and in beautiful, sacred places where I’m hoping the Lord will speak even more into my uncertainty and questioning. I’m trying to learn how to be ok with letting myself rest and enjoy. For someone who always has it “all together,” (and also never jumps without a million + one back up plans), not having a long term plan is absolutely terrifying. But what a cool opportunity for the Lord to work in really awesome and healing ways. I’m choosing hope over fear and leaning into this time as a chance to slow down and refocus.
– I want to write. Lots. Words are pouring out of me so fast, that even I can’t keep up with them. I can’t wait to see what that means.
So that’s it, friends. The truth and all the ways that Jesus is showing me that He’s the answer. And as much as I’m craving to know what the Lord has in store for me, as much as I want to move somewhere, call it home for a long time, and learn how to stay (so desperately), I think the Lord is asking me to sit in this season for at least a little while longer. We can resist the pain and brokenness and uncertainty, or we can let it help us kick out the stuff (and places and people) we’ve been letting grow in our heart that Jesus wants to take the place of instead. The hard part, for those of us who struggle with patience (I wear a bracelet everyday with the word patience on it), is recognizing that we don’t reap a harvest in the same season as we’re planting new seeds. So when we let Jesus plant new seeds in those spaces, as exciting as that is, we have to be ok knowing that we’re not going to see fruit over night. We have to give Him time and space to work in us and in our hearts. So that’s what I’m hoping the next few months become. Growing time — giving me a chance to rest and have faith in Jesus and His plans for me, but also time for Him to work in new and exciting ways.
Thank, thank goodness, friends, that we get to spend our lives falling madly in love with a God of new beginnings! And that He is much more concerned with who we are becoming than what we are doing or announcing on social media.
Lots of love, and all my prayers if this meets you in a similar season. God is holding you and your future so delicately in the palm of His hand, and has so many great things in store for you. Love God, love people, show up and do the next thing, and that’s all you need to do.