I question God as to why my story feels so incomplete, how I can go from one extreme to another, why others seem to have the things I long for and He just keeps telling me, “Wait."
In 2012 I was single, 27 and working the same, uninspiring job I had since age 16. I was living paycheck to paycheck, pinching pennies to pay off my car and trying to figure out where I fit with married friends who were beginning to talk about starting families. I was involved at Apex, in a house church and on the praise band for years-- but my heart was restless, full of questions and, truthfully, doubts. God used circumstances that summer to prompt me to look into overseas missions. I had been on two short-term trips in high school and college, but had always wondered if maybe I was called to something more. Through the support of my friends and family, Apex and the grace of God, I left in October of 2013 for Brisbane, Australia and an eight month long commitment with Youth With a Mission (YWAM).
I left with the full intention of never permanently returning to Dayton, Ohio. If God wanted me in missions, I was up for it! If He wanted me to work in another state upon my return-- yes! But I was done with Ohio.
I spent October 2013-May of 2014 in Australia with five weeks in Japan. The whole time furiously trying to pin-down my future with God. I needed to know what was next on the agenda. At YWAM, I definitely saw a need, but God was very clear to point out that a need is not always a calling. Through my duration there it became clear to me that foreign missions wasn't my calling. YWAM wasn’t my calling. Even Australia, though I loved it, wasn’t a country I felt passionate about.
Oddly enough, while traveling, God began to soften my heart and to open my eyes to the fact that if I was return to Ohio and to stay for a while, it wouldn’t be the most awful thing. I started to truly miss some of my friends and to be grateful for some of the opportunities I had through community with Apex. I found myself packing up and heading home to Ohio.
It's now September and I have been “home” for a little over three months. I am still single; I am unemployed, job searching constantly and living with my parents. It is a humbling experience to say the least. I am fiercely independent and long for a home of my own. At 29 I desire to work in a field that feels more like a career than a place-holder. I spend my days at aforementioned coffee shops, filling out resumes and applying for jobs.
I banter lightly at social interactions with people about job-searching and living with my parents-- but it’s hard. I question God as to why my story feels so incomplete, how I can go from one extreme to another, why others seem to have the things I long for and He just keeps telling me, “Wait.” I can only remind myself of when, in the novel The Horse and His Boy, (from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis) a character is questioning Aslan about someone else’s life and he replies:
“Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
As I sit here and type this, I will bluntly and honestly tell you that my answer, my story, is still forthcoming. What I do know? Is that for whatever reason, I have been given time. Time to process. Time to think about what I want and how those things align with what God wants. Time to invest in relationships. I have a huge heart for mentoring young women in the church. Encouraging them to dream and to know their identity as daughters of God. To know that there are so many things they can accomplish and that God loves them when they are weak and confused as well as strong and confident. He has provided me with chances to meet new people and to grow closer to old friends. I am even starting to dream some things that seem a bit crazy; I have no idea how I will get from where I am to where I need to be.
There are many moments when I think I will go crazy waiting. Waiting on a phone call, an acknowledgement, a place to live and work. Waiting to hear clearly from God and to start the next “phase” of life. But no matter in which season of life I have dwelt, I understand that waiting, that hoping and feeling a bit restless seems to be a big part of this life … A part of being a soul in a broken world, a heart that is always aching for something more. It’s what keeps me clinging to the hope of my Jesus and keeps my feet stepping forward each day. It’s why one of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 3:11:
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
That verse reassures me that though I am completely unsure of the future, there is beauty in both the known and the unknown. While there is a limit to my heart and understanding, there is a big, gorgeous picture God is painting and my story (whatever it ends up being) will play a part.
Author: Emily Ogden