Sorry in advance. This is a long post, but I’ve wanted to put this story into words for a long time. My heart is so grateful, and I can’t help but share why.
Okay, I’ll just say it: I hated college. Not all of it, but pretty much, it was an awful time for me. Disappointments in my family and then at school led me to a lot of grief and loss. And then, to make matters worse, I gave into all these fears and insecurities that only plummeted me into isolation and despair. I don’t know if I was technically “depressed,” but whatever you want to call it, I was deeply, deeply sad. There I was, facing college graduation, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. In desperation, I cried out to God for help.
April 3, 2007. Completely unprepared and rather aimless, I barely made it to a job fair in Portland that morning. The last thing I expected was to come out with an actual job. I visited the Puyallup booth (because I’ve loved that place since I lived there as a kid)…interviewed with them…and was offered a job with the district that very day. I was told I could think about it for a couple days, but it took me just a few minutes to decide to go. I just remember whispering to God, If I could pick anywhere on the map, I think I’d still choose Puyallup. I felt so unworthy, but even then I knew the Lord was tenderly and lovingly delivering me from my sadness.
And that was just the beginning. Within a few months, I found myself in an area I love, teaching a grade I love, at a school I love, with the support of a church — you guessed it — I totally love. I’ve moved a lot, but moving here was the easiest transition of my life. All of the belonging and affirmation and support I had so been longing for, I’ve found here in Puyallup. And, more than that, God has restored my hope, renewed my joy, and reminded me of His great love.
I know, so what’s the deal, right? Because now that I have everything I was looking for, Jesus has called me to drop everything and go?! To Thailand of all places? It’s like the parable of the talents (check out Matthew 25:14-30). I always thought this story was strange, because the cautious guy gets in trouble for burying the treasure he was given, while the risk-takers who doubled their talents are commended. I mean, what’s with that? Isn’t it smart to hide away valuable things? But as I see God’s awesome work in my life, I realize that I too have that choice to make. I could either take all that God’s given me and bury it, cling to it, secure it…or I could risk losing everything and let God use what He’s given me and multiply it.
And, the thing is, that’s the way our God always works. Through loss, we actually gain…through giving, we overflow…through dying, we truly live.
I know, I’m really long-winded, but I hope you’re still reading, because last of all, I want to thank you — all of you. No matter who you are in my life, you’ve played a role in this. Every kind word, every prayer, every act of love, God has used to grow me and heal me. Your love and prayers and encouragement are enabling me to go…and give…and love. So thank you. Thank you for letting God use you, and thank you for being a part of this redemption story.
(Special thanks to Sharon, Sary-Jo, and others whose photos I used in the slideshow above.)