What if I told you that in less than a year, I walked away from what I initially thought was my dream job. I lost several friends that I thought would always have my back and an ex boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry. Would you feel sorry for me? Would you say I was down on my luck? Would you encourage me and tell me that things will get better? Now what if I told you that I’m happier now, then I was when I had all those things and people in my life. Let me explain.
After I graduated from college, I headed to the Mississippi Delta to start a teaching career with Teach for America. I had the perfect job on paper. I would be making close to $30k a year, which is more than I’ve ever made in my life. I was making new friends, adjusting to life as a teacher, and things appeared to be falling into place. There was only one problem: I felt miserable. Not homesick miserable. Not adjusting-to-change miserable. But something-is-terribly-wrong-with-me-being-here miserable. I just couldn’t shake the feeling, but I tried to push through it. I turned to going out every weekend and drinking way more than my 5’2” body could handle just to numb myself to how I was feeling, but I still felt miserable. I told myself to suck it up because this was an opportunity that others would die for and it would look so good on my resume. I still felt miserable. I desperately tried to focus on the fact that I loved working with kids and that I could do so much to help the community I was going into. I still felt miserable. So after Institute (training and summer school for new corps members) was over, I left feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life. I decided to take a break from TFA and figured it would help me sort things out and regroup. I had the option of returning within the next two years, so I planned to return to the Delta the following year. However, the weeks and then months started to roll by, and I still felt miserable.
Meanwhile, I was looking for support from those around me, including several of my closest friends from college. I’d met them at different points throughout my collegiate journey but we all hung together as a group. We laughed together. We cried together. We fought together, but through it all we stuck together. Surely, I could count on them to be by my side throughout such a difficult transition in my life, or so I thought. Turns out, they weren’t. At a time when I was looking to them for support and encouragement, I got judgment and rejection. Not having them during such a tough time in my life, made me feel hurt and lonely.
Hey, but at least I still had my boyfriend, even if I didn’t have the job or the friends. I’ve always dreamed of having a husband and a “perfect family” since I was a little girl, especially since I didn’t have that growing up. I’ve always wanting to give my future children the two-parent home that I wished I could have had. And I think in a lot of ways, I looked to men to fill the void that my dad left when my parents got divorced (We’ve been working on our relationship over the past few years, though). So when my ex brought up marriage and kids and eternal, everlasting love, I was down for the cause. Having someone there to love me through thick and thin, better or worse, richer or poorer, is all I’ve ever wanted. So when we broke up, I was broken hearted. I just knew he was “the one”.
In less than a year, it felt like I had lost more than I ever had in all 23 years of my life. However, the Lord used everything that I lost to allow me to gain some valuable lessons about life.
It was hard to walk away from a “dream job” to come back to your hometown unemployed and starting from scratch, but I did it. God used that situation to show what an incredibly resilient person He created me to be. He showed me without a shadow of a doubt, that I can start over even when I’m scared and unsure. I learned to step out on faith and take the path that God had for me, instead of sticking with the path that others, and even I, thought I should have been on. I learned that I don’t need a certain job, with a certain amount of prestige, making a certain amount of money to succeed in life. As long as I am obedient to His will, I can go anywhere in this world and prosper.
I thought I needed friends to fulfill me. I relied on them to encourage me, offer me guidance, and make decisions for me. Before all of this, I didn’t realize the power I gave to others to dictate the direction my life was going in. I look back over my friendships and I realize how many times I’ve let friends’ opinions decide whether or not I pursue something or say something or wear something. I gave my friends the power to control me. Losing them was painful, but God used it to show me to see that I am perfectly capable of making each and every decision for my life on my own. I don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything. As long as I pray about it and seek wise counsel, when God leads me to, I’m entitled to make the decisions that I feel are best for my life.
I thought I needed the boyfried, but losing him has allowed me to discover a love far deeper than a wedding and sex. In losing him, I ending up finding The One who has loved me since time began and will love me forever. The One who has never abandoned me, never given up on me, and refuses to give up on me no matter how many times I turn away from Him, fail Him or break His heart. I found an everlasting love and joy that makes me whole and fills every void in my heart that has ever been there. I’ve seen over these past months of singleness, that I don’t need a boyfriend to be alright. I can stand on my own, even when it’s lonely and painful.
So in the end, I lost it all, only to find out that I had everything I ever needed in God and in myself. That time was one of the most painful ones in my life, but I’m at a place where I can look back and see that the pain I was feeling were just growing pains. For the longest time I thought that happiness would come when I had the “perfect” job, friends, and relationship, but I had all of those things and felt absolutely miserable. God showed me that “perfect” on paper does not always equal His perfect will for our lives. You can have the prestigious job, with a decent pay check and paid vacation days, but what does that mean if you wake up every morning dreading to go to work? Are the likes on Facebook when you post pictures of your “awesome” job and the pats on the back you receive from others who approve of your career path going to sustain you for the next 2 or 5 or 20 years? You can have the friends who you can laugh and kick it with. The ones who went to a nice school like you, who dress nicely, and have equally “perfect” jobs like you, but what does all of that mean if you can’t count on them to have your back when you need it the most? Are those things more important than having people who won’t judge you when you are having a hard time or laugh and gossip about your failures behind your back? You can have the “perfect” boyfriend who promises you a diamond ring and a happy life, but is it worth it if you have to compromise who you really are to be with them? Is it more important to put your dreams on hold to have a family or is it more important to go out and live your purpose with or without somebody by your side?
I’ve learned that my joy, peace and well-being are not bound by who and what is in my life at any given point and time. As long as I have God, I have all that I need and sooooo much more. I’m blossoming in ways, that I could have only dreamed of before (including working on my M.Div, building new relationships centered around Christ, and starting this blog) and I know that I wouldn’t be at this point if God didn’t force me to let go of what I so desperately thought I had to cling to. I’m a living witness that “everything works for the good of those called according to His purpose”. With or with out the nice job, friends, or man that I once thought I needed, I’m okay. Matter of fact, I’m more than okay. It’s definitely been a journey, but I’m so grateful that God allowed me to lose it all, so that I could gain a trust in Him that sustains me no matter what my circumstances look like.