Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Year Later

On this night one year ago, I arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with five suitcases, a broken heart, and the name and number of a woman who was going to pick me up and give a place to stay for a few weeks.

As I stood at baggage claim, it was hard to keep terror at bay. It’s an adventure, I told myself. You’ve moved plenty of times. But it felt like trying to stop up an Old Faithful of anxiety. Where am I going to live? How am I going to make friends? How do I even start finding a church? What am I doing? It dawned on me that I had never feared loneliness before, and that fear seemed almost worse than the loneliness itself. I was all for new adventures, but I’d never had to go it alone. That night at baggage claim, as I took deep breaths and fought off the lump in my throat, I remembered the stranger I’d met on the plane exactly two weeks earlier. After we small-talked about our destinations and plans, I casually mentioned the worries I had over this potential move. Knowing nothing about me, this stranger turned in his seat, looked me directly in the eye, and said, “Well, it all comes down to whether or not you believe God is going to take care of you.” Is God going to take care of me? became a whispered prayer on an endless internal loop.
* * *
Months later, I sat in church, surrounded by friends and co-sojourners, listening to a sermon on singleness. The psalm of the day was Psalm 68, and ever since, verse six has become the new whispered, looping prayer—one of promise and one of gratitude.

God sets the lonely in families.

One year after that night in baggage claim, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the families God has seen fit to place me in.  My church reminds me week in and week out of the hope we set on the risen Christ. I’ve met friends who get me, who challenge me, who bring awesome lawn games to my birthday party, who send hilarious emails to the church listserv, who prove on a daily basis that the Church is not dead to our generation.

God sets the lonely in families.

My coworkers have made work a happy place. They’re the kind of friends I feel like I should have always known, that their presence in my life was inevitable. They celebrate every milestone out of joy, not obligation—babies, weddings, grad school acceptances, birthdays, new jobs. They organize parties, Nationals games, happy hours, softball games—40 hours a week together isn’t enough, sometimes.

God sets the lonely in families.

There’s the friend I first heard of years ago in a foreign country, who turned out to be a kindred spirit. She shares her dog, her guest bedroom, her great taste in writing, her cut-through-the-crap advice. There are the grad school friends, who introduced me to Nutella scones and the problem with too many “to be” conjugations in sentences. There’s the friend whose Josh Ritter water bottle brought us together, who’s my partner-in-crime for all things musical and cultural and Craigslistical. There’s my roommate, who tells the best stories, leaves funny notes in the bathroom, gladly and readily shared her church and her friends, and cooks up an extravagant Thanksgiving dinner for her friends every year. The list goes on, and on, and on.

God sets the lonely in families.

One year in, life in DC is still hard. I’m not smitten with the city the way I thought I would be. But the experience of seeing God’s faithfulness over and over again is not one I would ever trade in. This harebrained scheme of mine had every potential to crash and burn and leave me emotionally scarred. I don’t know why God chose to redeem it, but I am so grateful he did.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Porch-sitting on PEI

God and I warred over reasons for DC. I wanted to go for love, to make a name for myself, for exodus from the cramped Midwest. He delivered me into the wilderness to get my attention. To cut back the excess until He was all that was left. To make me wait. To make me beg for the promised land, to weep for loneliness, to find co-wanderers, to delight in His will and walk in His ways, to the glory of His name.

Can a life of ambition live peacefully next to a life of beauty? Can ambition only be fulfilled through making money and feeling that the work I do matters? Or can a life of inconsequential work still be glorifying? Is delighting in Him and receiving the desires of my heart its own reward? Can delight coexist with despair? Contentment with restlessness? Loneliness with bone-deep companionship?