Listening for God’s Voice & Follow the Footprints
To say that I am great at following God’s instructions would be a massive lie. To say that my stubborn and bullheadedness has brought me trials I would have avoided if I had just listened would be the biggest truth I can confess. Life is our path–our journey–but along the way, there are moments of torment, of turmoil, and of transparency.
My whole life I wanted to leave Indiana. I wanted to get out and far away. God answered that prayer, sending me down to Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. SEU gave me the best four and a half years as I met friends that became family and earned a degree in teaching, the field I thought I was meant to do–my calling. After graduation, I diligently applied many places and by the next school year, I landed a dream job. I saw the footprints in front of me and I followed, not considering them being an illusion of my own making. The timer on the bomb started its countdown as situations arose, making my life as a teacher laborious.
By February I messed up. I let my temper win. It cost me my job. Now don’t get me wrong it merely was me letting the kids get to me and I screamed, but nowadays that is enough because to the administration it doesn’t matter how much a brand new teacher of 22 is trying and reaching out for help, the kids and parents are always right. I walked away from teaching that day. In the moment, I walked away from more than just my job, but I thought I was walking away from my calling.
At that point all I knew in my life was teaching, so where did I go? I turned back to my college job and then to a marketing job I thought I would do well in. It broke my sanity. I remember crying to my mom every night as I drove the one to two hours on I-4 because I was breaking. Not because of the job, even though it looked that way, but because of the emptiness I felt. The new job took me away from the church, aiding in my silence with God. I knew I should have left. I knew I needed to come home and regroup, but I didn’t want to leave the sunny, humid jungle of Florida, with its year-round beach days and outrageously pricey Disney World. I said I never would move back to Indiana.
The vast hole grew, filling up with overwhelming disappointment, crushing emptiness, and doubt. I was drowning.
So. I. Gave. In.
In other words, confusion set it. I broke my never promise to myself–Indiana. I moved back into the small bedroom at my parents’ house. It wasn’t even my bedroom. My brother moved into mine thinking I wasn’t ever coming home. I thought coming back would give me a sense of normalcy, but even the walls I lived in had changed. I had to get used to a new bedroom that I lived next to my whole life, but never in. Even such a small thing pushed me further under.
My saving grace arrived on my first Sunday back. My family changed churches and I could feel my lead body lightening as we sang song after song during worship. Something about Pathway felt…right. A weird sense of peace washed over me that morning and little did I know what God was about to do. I sat in my chair looking at the opportunities to serve in the church, feeling compelled to check a couple off, turning it in with the offering. See, before the marketing job, I worked in my Florida church’s nursery for five years and missed being able to serve. My first thought about serving at Pathway would give me that familiarity back of being apart of something. I checked off KidCity, but God was pushing me. I did not want work with students, especially middle schoolers.
I finally caved to my spiritual competitor and checked off Impulse and Impact (middle and high school ministries). The next day I received a call from Byron in middle school, asking if I wanted to check it out Wednesday. My brain screamed no, disappointed it wasn’t KidCity, but my heart won, having my mouth agree to check it out. The group of 8th graders I sat in with that night were rough. I honestly didn’t want to be a leader at all, but when Byron talked to me after youth that night something inside of me agreed.
To sum up the next three years from there I fell in love with middle schoolers. My first group of eighth graders was challenging, but God found the small piece of my heart that could love them and fostered it. By the end of their school year the black hole I once had for middle school filled with fresh soil and seeds. Each year the seeds grew a little more and in the summer of 2015 little sprouts pushed through the dirt. A position was opening up in middle school ministry for a new youth pastor because Byron was moving to college and Travis (the other youth pastor) needed some help. I remember feeling my heart tug when they told me. I remember not being able to shake the feeling at all.
Needless to say, I wasn’t qualified, but the sprout was there. The seed started growing and through the 2015-2016 school year, I consistently sought God on what footprints to follow. Nothing. Nothing was working and I needed a solid job because of personal and financial reasons, so I thought since my girls were about to go to high school the next school year it would be a great time for me to go back to Florida. I would have my Master’s in English and a better head on my shoulders. So I ignored the sprout and started applying for new full-time jobs. I even had an interview in Florida, but with every application, resume, and interview rejection after rejection followed. Nothing was working and confusion set in more. During the whole process I leaned in on God, but I started to realize in May of 2016 that even though I was leaning in…God was keeping silent. I was following illusions my selfishness created.
I needed to fully give my path back to God.
When I did just that everything started to change. Brad, our student ministries pastor, came to me in June and started talking to me about if I would be interested working for the church. I remember the smile that crossed my face as my heart leaped from its spot shouting “This is it!” A small voice inside of me said, “This is what I wanted you to wait for.”
I couldn’t believe it. I thought okay, I will have an interview and this will be decided before we go to CDYC. Nope. Okay then after camps. Nada. The summer waned on as I waited for an interview and decision, but complications arose. I look back on the summer and see God testing me. I had to find patience, trust, and strength through Him as each new complication set in. God had me work for it. Now I know, God needed me to go through the stress, making sure I focused on Him and not strayed thinking it wouldn’t work out. Now more than ever I know I want to break another “never promise” I made to myself years ago–work in ministry.
I am now the new student ministries assistant for Impulse and hopefully a new student at Bethel in the spring for their Master’s in Ministry program. I see now the path I had taken and strayed. Even though most of my path seemed as if it was a delusion it really wasn’t. God knew He had to beat it into me and I see the moments in the past 10 years that have led me here. My path though still continues as I follow Him in a new part of my story. I pray I can continue to seek His path and walk beside Him.
Sometimes clarity takes more than a keen eye, but a willing heart.