Sometime late last year, I heard about a new church planting project that my church in Orlando was preparing to sponsor. It sounded like a nice idea at the time, but I honestly didn’t give it a second though. That all changed when Ben and Lynley brought their family to Orlando early this year.
After a few weeks of having them around and hearing more about Storyline Fellowship and my church’s participation with it, a friend challenged me to give it some serious thought and prayer because she thought it could be a great opportunity, and she felt like God was bringing me to mind when she was praying about it.
What she didn’t know at the time was that I was in the early rounds of interviews for what would have likely been a Dream Job in Orlando. I told her that I would think about Denver once I knew what was happening with the Dream Job.
Nothing happened with the Dream Job, as it turns out, and true to my word, a long process of contemplation and prayer about a move to Denver commenced. Over the next several months, I connected with Ben and Lynley and their family and several other friends who were also in the process of figuring this out. I talked with my parents and with friends near and far, and began to think that this could actually be a reality. My emotions were going in two very different directions: growing excitement at the possibility, and growing hesitation about leaving the familiarity of family and friends and community. (Full disclosure: this is still the case.)
Before they left Orlando, Ben and Lynley and I picked out a weekend in June for a visit. Leading up to it, I tried not to put too much pressure on this one weekend as any sort of confirmation, but by Sunday night during the trip, sitting on the deck looking over the Denver skyline, I knew that a move to Arvada was my next step.
I listed my house for sale the day before I left for Colorado in late June. After 13 days on the market, I had an offer. It’s now under contract, and as of this writing, the plan is to move shortly after closing in mid-September.
There are still plenty of unknowns, namely where I’ll live and what I’ll do for a living. But God has been apparent and faithful in this so far, and I have no reason to think that will change.
I’m excited about the road ahead. I have no doubt there will be plenty of other blog posts leading up to and after the move. But for now, I’ve got a growing list of things to do for a cross-country move and a shrinking amount of time.
Let the adventure begin!
My parents are a few weeks into a seven-week RV trip across the country. Talking with them before they left, it was clear that my dad was more excited about this excursion than my mom. Though there were several reasons for my moms reluctance, with varying levels of legitimacy, one concern she shared before departing was driving (or more accurately, being driven) through mountains in a 33′ recreational vehicle.
This got me thinking: on some level, aren’t we all a little nervous about the curves that life throws us? Sure, it’s much easier to stay on the known, familiar, straight routes that we’ve constructed. But how often does that result in any measurable growth? Adventure? Or even fulfillment? In the case of my parents, the straight, FLAT Florida roads of familiarity certainly don’t lead to beautiful vistas of mountains and lakes they’re getting to enjoy.
Admittedly, not all of life’s curves or changes to plans are enjoyable or sought out. I’m guessing that few people initially see a cancer diagnosis as their next great adventure. Rarely do we relish the curves and detours, and I’m certainly not implying that we should in those moments. But if we have the luxury of looking back, of seeing where the road has taken us, may we always be people who see and learn and grow from those experiences.
On a spiritual level, the curves are where our faith is tested and, hopefully, strengthened, though that process is rarely a bucket-o-fun while you’re navigating it. Jonah was swallowed by a whale when he wouldn’t first go where God told him. Zacchaeus had an unannounced dinner guest. And the disciples were happily enjoying their lives as fishermen before Christ met them. In each of these cases, I have to think that the outcome after the shift in plans was better than what it would have been otherwise. But that path wasn’t always easy.
As I’m working through my own “curve in the road” ahead, I’m wondering what lies on the other side of it. What adventure awaits? What growth will come of this? I didn’t see this one coming a year ago, but now that I know it’s here, I’m bracing myself for the good–and the bad–that may await.
I may not be one to seek out curves in the course all the time, but I want to be a person willing to take them when they come. What about you? How do you handle them? Are you a thrill seeker willing to make your own curves and plow ahead? Or somewhere on the other extreme, avoiding the curves at all costs?
Stay safe, friends, but take the curves when you can.
There’s so much I still have to learn about this blogging thing (like staying consistent with content delivery, for starters!). Until my friend, Karin, tagged me last week, I didn’t even know what a “blog hop” was. I’m sure it has some noble origins, but for me, it was a much-needed prompt to write. It’s a pretty simple concept: answer four questions about your self. So here we go…
- What am I writing or working on? Funny you should ask! I’m actually working on one of the biggest “projects” of my life, but I’m not quite ready to spill the beans here on the interwebs. When I am, you can bet I’ll be writing about it…
- How does my work differ from others in this genre? See, this question is proof that the person who started this little Blog Hop charade likely meant it for real bloggers, as opposed to random people with questionable grammar and no particular genre. Truth is, I don’t even know what my genre is (though I do know that my color season is “autumn”). I like to think that I provide commentary on life, which is why you should all be thankful that I rarely blog at airports. Those places are like the Super Bowl of people-watching.
- Why do I write what I do? Hmmm. Methinks an honest answer of this question would require that I actually write on some minimal frequency. I write about events around me that make me think. I write about conversations. I write about things that have impacted me because I sometimes have a hunch they might impact others, as well.
- How does my writing process work? In this particular case, I didn’t have a choice. Though I have schedules and outlines and plans a’plenty, those rarely materialize like I intend them to. Sometimes I mull over a blog post for a few days, maybe even bouncing the idea off someone. Other times, the shame of inactivity drives me to the keyboard and I plow through a string of somewhat coherent thoughts. Then there are the rare occasions that I go all Hemingway, down a fifth of Jack Daniels and let the chips fall where they may! (Totally joking on this last one, mostly.)
I had an “interesting” and mercifully brief conversation over the weekend with a stranger who warned me about my childless state and my ticking biological clock on the happy occasion of Father’s Day. In the moment, I could think of nothing logical or humorous with which to flip a very awkward interaction, so I did what any sane person would do these days and posted the synopsis on Facebook.
The post generated far more feedback than I anticipated, which led me to believe that this was a topic ripe for discussion. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve complied this helpful list of four confessions of a 30-something single Christian.
Editor’s note: I feel as though I need to add the “Christian” disclaimer because I find that the situations which elicit these confessions to be more prevalent in, though not exclusive to, Christian circles, so take that for what it’s worth. Additionally, I can only speak from my perspective and the interactions I have with close single friends. This isn’t meant to paint a wide, stereotypical brush for all single people; it’s just real and personal observations…
1. Many (though not all) single people desire to be married or in relationship. That desire often falls on a spectrum, ranging anywhere from despair that love will never find you to near-delight at the notion that you have absolutely no one to dictate your time, money, or interests (like taking a week-long vacation to visit friends in Brazil just because you can). Rarely is anyone static for long on one spot of that spectrum, so don’t assume that someone is at one extreme or the other.
2. Even if a single person has wondered, legitimately, whether they have Paul’s “gift of singleness”, it’s rarely up to you to ask or assume this (if this Christian colloquialism is confusing, check out 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 for Paul’s own explanation on his state of singleness). I can count on two hands the number of people with the relational capital between the two of us to ask or imply any sort of question this deep. If we’re not close enough to discuss, say, what medications you’re on, we’re probably not close enough for any serious conversation about relationships and singleness issues beyond the Christian-ese pleasantries.
3. Honestly, sometimes Paul’s “gift of singleness” truly feels like a gift. I’ll admit it: there’s a big selfish part of me that looks at the sacrifices and compromises required of a good, God-honoring marriage, and I wonder whether I’m up for it (sorry, mom and dad*). I recognize this is a quasi-heretical statement to some people, even some single friends, but hear me out. I’m in a season of life where I have wide latitude to serve God in a lot of different ways, and LOTS of single people I know recognize this as a gift and serve God faithfully in lots of ministries. But that also means I can book tickets to Seattle to visit a friend without a second thought. I can arrange my budget how I like. I get to pick the movies I watch. And a lot of the times, this freedom is fantastic. (But not all of the time; see #1 above.)
4. People are single for lots of different reasons. For the most part, I’m around people who simply haven’t found the right person yet. But I know plenty of people recovering from divorce, broken hearts, broken marriages, or the death of a spouse. Unless you know someone’s story, it’s a bit dangerous to assume anything about it. To the (again, well-meaning) woman who warned about the fading hours of my child-producing years: what if I had lost a child? What if I had health issues that made biological kids impossible? While I have little problem discussing these things with people interested in real conversation, not everyone shares this level of vulnerability (see #2 above). Be careful that you’re not pouring salt on a wound.
I’d love for relationship and family to be in my future, but since they haven’t happened yet, I’m content in this space and time and place right now. And I’m absolutely OK with that. But based on personal experience (and about 40 comments on that original Facebook thread), the most helpful thing for me and my tribe (stay strong, fellow singles) probably isn’t to warn us of impending infertility or ask “why the heck aren’t you married yet?!” Because if I could answer that question, I probably wouldn’t be single.
If I haven’t alienated every blessed reader yet: what about you? What do you wish more people knew about singleness? What were some of your best or worst memories of singleness if you’ve moved out of that season of life? What do you wish you had done while you were single that would be hard or impossible to do now? This is a safe space, friend, so comment away…
*–For the record, I don’t count myself among the people that are truly and honestly OK w/ life-long singleness, in case anyone was confused (read: mom and dad).
Though I didn’t complete everything I set out to accomplish, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are my three main takeaways, followed by a run-down of the completed items.
- People want to help you reach your goals, which is good, since one of the reasons I put the list together in the first place was to bring others along with me and spending intentional, quality time with people.
- I’m OK with incomplete items, as much as I love checking off everything on any particular list.
- My ambitions often outweigh my abilities, and this list was no exception. But you would think I would have learned that by now.
Now, here’s a recap of this past year…
“You didn’t visit that while you were in grade school?!” No, gentle reader, I didn’t, and that’s why I put it on the list in the first place. Evidently my plucky little elementary school was one of the few that didn’t take an obligatory trip to the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States, and as a Florida native, I had never been there. Even still, it was a great day spent with friends!
It wasn’t until after spending a few hours on the road making our pilgrimage from Cocoa Beach to Clearwater Beach that someone had the bright idea to do this in the Florida Keys next time, only requiring a jaunt across the island and not the entire width of the state. You know what they say about hindsight…
Unlike the hike in Colorado that wasn’t meant to be, this one actually happened, and it was fantastic!
#15–Do something generous for someone
I did this one, but saying anything more about it makes me feel like a tool, so we’ll let this one be.
#22–Teach a class or speak somewhere
I’m counting this as my time spent with my seventh grade guys this year at church.
It doesn’t get much better than Sir Paul McCartney, even if the air was a bit thinner from way up top.
#25–Volunteer for 30 hours
Like #22 above, this one is covered by my time with these special snowflakes called middle school boys. I honestly don’t care of you disagree with my decision on these two completed items. It’s my list and I’ll do what I want!
Partially completed items
This one may be a stretch. I had high hopes of making it out to Napa Valley sometime during the year of the list, but alas, that wasn’t in the cards. So, on our day trip to St. Augustine, we stopped into a winery. There are no grapes grown at this facility, so I guess it doesn’t technically count as a vineyard, but they do make wine here, so that counts for something.
While I watched my friend do this (and she makes some GREAT stuff), I didn’t actually participate. Even still, I could probably make a decent go of it just from my crash course with her, so if they gave out “partially completed” ribbons, this one would be a winner!
It literally took an act of God to keep this one from happening, so I’m counting this one as “E for effort.”
Counting the “partially completed items” and the “honorable mention,” I accomplished half of what I set out to do over the year. Considering all the places that this took me and the people I got to bring along, I’m calling this a success.
Thanks for sticking with me through this year.