This week is Screaming Eagles Week for Northwest University. I have a love/hate relationship with this week. I hate the exhaustion and sleep-deprivation and how you feel a little crazy at the end of it. But more than that, I love the way it brings people together and makes you discover the gems who you’ve lived with for months in a new way and shows how brave your friends are. As I catch glimpses of this week from afar this time, I can’t help remember that this was also the week of a big decision for me.
This was the week last year that we decided I would leave my job and we would move across the country. It wasn’t as neat and tidy and simple as it might sound. It was a conversation that had been going on for months and months. There were many varieties of the same question, the same conversation, the same prayer. But it all boiled down to “Where does the Lord want us?”
It was this week last year that I was sitting on my couch and my husband said that one sentence and I knew. My heart sank and the tears welled up in my eyes. I felt relief that there was a decision and a quiet certainty in my heart that this was the direction I’d been praying for even if it was everything I didn’t want. I was exhausted. I wanted a quiet summer to nap in the sunshine and regain some strength.The last thing I wanted was to pack up our life and leave the people I loved and move. I hate moving. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me.
But I said yes. I said yes to the Lord. I knew he was letting me choose, but his still, small voice was telling me what was better. And I knew I wanted what was better, even if it hurt my heart more than I can say and I didn’t understand one ounce of it. I wanted what was better even if I cried more tears than I knew I had. I wanted what was better even if it meant I had to give up what I loved.
Sometimes your life changes in a moment, but sometimes it takes many small, tiny steps of change. I think this week last year was both. It was a moment to change direction and make a decision, but it was also the result of so many small, tiny steps, as well as the start of many more small, tiny steps to come. As I remember my tears, my relief, my heartache of this week last year, I also think of what I would say to myself in those moments. If I could go back to that weepy, exhausted girl on the couch and give her a few words to hold onto, this is what I would say:
I know you don’t feel brave, but you are. It is always brave to say yes to the Lord. It is always brave to follow him into the unknown. It doesn’t have to feel brave to be brave. You are brave. It is always brave to choose a better story instead of the safe one. You’re saying yes to an adventure with Jesus and you’ll never be sorry when you do.
I know you’re worn out and it feels like you haven’t stopped crying in months. I know it feels like you just signed up for more months of more tears and that feels like more energy than you have. I know the idea of a cross-country move sounds terrible. Take a deep breath. If the Lord is taking you somewhere, he’ll give you what you need to get there. You’re not doing this alone. The Lord will send you help. I know you’d rather pull up your bootstraps and do it yourself, but that’s not always how the Lord works. He’s going to send you help instead. You’re going to make it.
Don’t worry about how you’re going to do it. Just do today. Just show up today. Jesus will help you know what it means to finish well here and how to do that today. Don’t worry about door codes until it is the day to change door codes. Don’t worry about packing boxes until it is the day to pack boxes. Don’t worry about how many tears you’ll cry until it is the time for tears. Just do today.
Please be kind to yourself. I know how easy it is to be hard on yourself. I know how hard you try to prove yourself. I know you have no idea how deep the exhaustion runs and that you’re longing for someone to give you permission to rest. Jesus is going to send you people to remind you to be kind to yourself and to rest. They’ll tell you when you are having trouble believing it on your own. They’ll tell you when you are overwhelmed with your to-do list and they give you permission to take a nap instead. They’ll tell you when you least expect it and you’ll burst into tears in the best of ways.
But in the meantime, let this start to settle into your heart, even if you don’t believe it all the way yet.
You have nothing to prove.
You are loved.
You can rest.
You can do something that makes you feel alive, simply because it does.
You’ve got nothing to prove.
Friendships are a tricky thing, aren’t they? It feels like they get even messier with long distance. Hold the people you love in hands that are open to Jesus. He’ll keep the ones who will walk with you for more than just this season. He’ll take out the ones that were only for now. He’ll put in new ones. And he’ll even put in ones who help you out for just a day. I know it is scary stuff to trust him with your people. It always has been. But I promise, he knows who you need and who needs you.
And in a while, you’ll look in your hands and be surprised and grateful by who you find there. You’ll see that Jesus gives the grace of friends, even if they aren’t quite what you expected or thought you wanted. A writing buddy around the world. Unlikely friendships. A new prayer group to take your heart’s cry to Jesus. Sweet mail love from Texas. A long distance book club. A church to feel like home. A new season with an old friend. People to cry with you and for you. People who will pray for you. People you will pray for. People who will feed you. People you will feed. People who will offer you much grace. Trust him to give you who you need.
I know there will be moments where this feels like a bad trade. It will feel like you are walking away empty and you gave up everything. It will feel like you made a bad deal with Jesus and got the short end of the stick. It feel like that, but it simply isn’t true. There are no bad trades with Jesus. In fact, there are no trades! Everything you have is a grace. Everything he is doing is good. That doesn’t mean it is safe or comfortable and that you’ll always like it. That’s okay. You can tell him that. But there are no such things as bad trades with Jesus. He is overflowing with good gifts and graces for you. It doesn’t have to feel like it today to be true. Just say thank you for what you can today. He’ll catch your heart up with all there is to be grateful for. (Hint: there’s a lot.)
Oh boy. It really feels scary to walk away from a steady income, a job you’re good at, health insurance, all things that feel safe and secure. I know it feels extra hard knowing it isn’t just you anymore. There’s other people in your family now. You’re making decisions for more than just you. But, friend, it isn’t you who is taking care of anything. It never was. It is the Lord who takes care of your family. And it just so happens that the Lord provided for your family through this job in this season. And you can rest knowing that he will provide and take care of you through something else. It may not look the way you’d expect. It may not be comfortable. But the Lord has a pretty good track record of taking care of you, doesn’t he? Has he ever failed you? You can trust him to take care of you in a new season, as you follow him.
You’re giving up a dream. These people, this place, they represent a dream of your heart that has been growing for a while now. That’s worth grieving. You’ve already started asking Jesus for a new dream. I know you can’t see it yet, but the seed is there. Jesus has been getting it ready for the perfect time. I picture that seed just below the surface, pushing through the dirt. I don’t want to give it away and tell you too much. Trust me, you’ll love it. It will make you feel alive. The details of how he will show you this secret dream of your heart and give it wings need to be experienced, not told. Just know, this isn’t the end of dreams. That seed will sprout and grow. The Lord isn’t done using your gifts. Finish well here, today. He’ll show you your new dream when the time is right.
Friend, Jesus goes with you. I know how your heart longs for home. You get to find your home in Jesus in a way that you never have before. He will be your home as you trust him with this new season and say yes to this adventure. You’re his girl. He’s going to take care of you and your weary heart. You’re going to be okay. Jesus goes with you.
And remember how this gets to be part of something better? You didn’t sign up for the safe thing. You signed up for the better story. Friend, you will never be sorry when you say yes to what Jesus is doing. Keep showing up. Keep saying yes. You won’t be sorry. He is a good Father. He is the best of dads. And he is telling your story.