I was 23 years old and I was leaving to Northridge, California, to pursue a Master's degree. Five years of college lead to this path, this pursuit of my dream to help people. Helping people was all I really cared about. I had an intense interest in nutrition, fitness and counseling. I was at school to become a Marriage and Family and Child Counselor (MFCC) with an emphasis in school counseling. I connect with people pretty easily and I am empathetic. I can hear people’s hearts. Hearing a heart is something more than just hearing someone's words. But really, even though I was excited about this leg of my "life plan" journey... I was running from God's design on my life.
I know the Lord was alright with me counseling and having an education. He is the Dream Giver and placed those desires and the ability for it within me. It was how I was going about the call on my life that he wasn’t so thrilled about.
Not this school or town.
He wanted me in Stockton.
I was called to Stockton.
I AM called to Stockton.
I think I knew all of this is the bellows of my being, but ran away, anyway. I partly ran away because of John. I knew he was God's plan for me and I was afraid of marriage. I was afraid of that kind of commitment and that would interrupt my plan to finish school and marry closer to 30. I didn't want to marry until I was 30...that was the "plan". So, I ran. I was also running away from my hometown, Lodi. Lodi is the cutest little town ever, but not all that exciting to a girl fresh out of college. I even convinced a dear friend, also pursuing a Masters in Counseling, to choose Northridge as well. Guess what happened...God made me miserable.
Oh, I was having fun. There's a lot of ways to have fun in Southern California. I also have family down there and family makes my heart happy...but I had no peace. I would dream these challenging dreams and have troubled sleep. I felt anxious for no reason. I had a few issues with my job- I didn't like it and the pay wasn’t enough. I couldn't find another one. I began to pray about what to do. I was recongnizing that something didn't feel right.
I wasn't all that versed in following God's lead at that point in my life. I tried to hear him. I needed direction because this discomfort I didn't like. I was willing to try something to get rid of the discomfort. You know that feeling, I think it's called, "conviction". So I prayed a few weeks and decide to leave and go back home- peace would flood my heart. Then, I'd change my mind because I didn't want to move. I loved my apartment. I loved my roommate. I loved my relationships down there and I was having so much fun. What about the inconvenience of trying to get out of a lease? (Aren’t we humans so good at rationalizing and justifying our choices?) I’d lose money- money from my security deposit (which wasn't cheap because I lived in a very nice apartment building). I'd lose money from my investment in school. I'd lose time to reach my goal as I'd have to quit school and start all over the next semester. This was a very valid reason because my program was a two year academic portion with 3,000 hour requirement for practical experience, thus average time of completion would be 3-5 years. Aside from all of this, I'd have to go through the process of applications, interviews, etc. required for this type of graduate program. I definitely didn't want to do that again. Yet, the peace....it was not there. So, I'd pray. I sought wise counsel. I decided to move home. Ah, there was the peace. Then I'd change my mind back, no peace. Then..well you get the idea. I finally made a decision and stuck with it. I wanted to do what God wanted. Even when I wasn’t doing a whole lot to serve God I always had this deep desire to please him. Just like how a little child wants to please their parent. I was just always really soft to God that way.
I was wise enough to know that He could see what I could not. He knew my future and all the details I did not know. If He was leaning on my heart to leave, then I should listen. So, I moved home. It wasn’t easy. First, my landlord didn’t get it. Then, my roommate didn’t get it at all. She was not a Christian at that time (but she is now Praise God!) so she couldn’t understand why I would just pack it in so far into the plan. She rebuked me pretty sternly. I probably deserved it. But I was in now, I wasn’t turning back because that peace hadn’t left since I decided to leave, so I knew…I knew. I had friends to explain all of this to also. My professors didn’t get it, no one did. But I was blessed that John was there for me to be strength in a season of my life when I can honestly say, my strength wasn’t so resilient. My parents were easy, they always try to be very supportive of my decisions (I am so blessed that way, they are a true blessing). My roommate actually decided to move home also. Boy, did I feel awful. I had convinced her to move with me and here I was moving home. God is always in control and sees everything we cannot. It was a huge blessing in the making and I had no idea. I can list many blessings from my obedience to that still quiet voice that was only measured by the presence or absense of peace. Here was the greatest blessing…
I moved home right around Halloween. The following January, only two months later, a very massive earthquake hit the Valley and my apartment complex was at the epicenter. My decision to follow the still and subtle peace in my heart saved both my life and that of my roommate. We had lived on the second floor and the entire complex collapsed. God is so good and he knows. He took care of all the details and fears and inconveniences of my decision and he saved me in so many ways. Imagine the impact all of this had on my roommate and her family. It was a pivotal point in her becoming open to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever had a situation or circumstance that you tried to walk away from or get out of? Have you ever had something bigger than yourself direct and reroute every path you chose to only bring you back to the thing he called you to in the first place? I have, many years ago...what did I learn? I learned it was an expensive and time wasting side trip to just move on and do my will. But through it I learned more about listening to God direct my steps. I didn’t hear God so clear as I hear him today, but it was a beautiful beginning to much growth in being still, listening, hearing and obeying.
I'm there again, on a road I’d love to jump off of. I cannot escape what I am called to. In my shallow thoughts it would be easy to sprint away, but I know better…when you live a surrendered life you have to follow the steps he orders...like it or not. Then you just pray that what looks impossible, difficult beyond my strength, challenging beyond what I can persevere, requiring more courage than I can muster…I remember that it all works together for God's Glory and He can see what none of us can. If we would only just listen for the Voice of Peace and let him handle the details. Everything is going to be all right. If he has put you to it, he will guide you through it….that is a promise.
"But my righteous will live by faith and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. " Hebrews 10:38