When I was first approached about writing a piece for The Wish Dish, I knew I wanted to tell a story, but I didn’t know what story. The Wish Dish exists because of stories, so I knew I couldn’t just share any old story. I needed to contribute something powerful if I could. I thought through the different stories I could tell, looking for those stories of my life that I most value and cherish.
Through all of this brainstorming, one story continued to spark my interest and my passion, so I have decided to tell it. It is a story of trust, waiting and hardship through the period of post-graduation life. It has no ending, because it is still in progress. I am living and breathing this story even as I type these words. But I think that gives this story a special kind of relevance and urgency, a freshness of emotion, because it hasn’t had time to settle yet. I hope you enjoy, and thank you for listening.
I graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2015. That was only five months ago, but it feels like an eternity. I deeply loved and enjoyed my time in Athens and at UGA, and I was the kind of student that didn’t just experience Athens in relation to the University of Georgia. I was deeply and happily involved in the life and culture of Athens as a town as well. Those who know me well know just how much I love the city of Athens and the people who live there.
That campus ministry is called Greek Intervarsity, and having the influence of that group around me actually changed my life. During the spring semester of my sophomore year, after only being involved with Greek Intervarsity for a few weeks, I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus and His legacy.
It was a long and rocky road to that decision, marked by lots of anxiety, tears and low, low points. But on a bench outside of the Tate Center one brisk spring day I told God that I believed in Jesus and I wanted a relationship with Him that would completely change me. I wanted to be saved by Him – and I was, and have been, and am still today. Those who knew me at the time and saw me afterwards realized I was different.
Fast-forward two years and I’m sitting on the football field next to my beautiful friend and roommate of four years, among hundreds of our peers, watching our graduation ceremony unfold before us. It was a beautiful time of relishing in our accomplishment, but I was also terrified – I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.
I had no job lined up. I had no plan. I had actually wasted my senior year and let the opportunities of job fairs, networking events, and career planning slip right past me. I had lost the vision I once had for my future, the vision God had clearly given me a year before, but that I had forgotten and ignored.
I had received this vision the previous summer, before the start of my senior year, during a two-month-long mission trip to Ghana with Intervarsity. To say that trip to Ghana changed me would be an understatement. That trip didn’t just change me, it transformed me through and through. I left Ghana with the most powerful and concrete understanding of my purpose. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments where you feel so sure and empowered by the absolute confidence of such a calling.
And the calling? Well, that calling was to be a full-time international missionary. Crazy right? But incredibly powerful and laden with expectancy and blessing in my eyes. So you would think after such a clear and powerful sense of direction, purpose and calling that I would have had no problem running after such a vision. I couldn’t make it that easy…
Upon returning from Ghana and the start of my senior year, I went through an incredibly rough time. It’s not surprising now, looking back on it. I should have been prepared for spiritual warfare and resistance upon my return from such a spirit-filled two months, but I didn’t even see it coming.
The next thing I knew, I had resigned from my leadership role with Greek Intervarsity and found myself doing a complete 180. I was really angry with a lot of people and a lot of things. I missed Ghana and my friends and the village. I wanted to be back there, and I didn’t understand how American culture could be So. Messed. Up.
I knew I would have to do something after graduation, so I started trying to plan my future for myself. I wasn’t planning my future with God’s guidance, but with my own, and that left me with plans that were unstable and so easily wiped away. I convinced myself I loved the town of Athens so much that I should stay after graduation and “take it easy” for a couple of years – work jobs here and there, figure out what I wanted to do, hang out with my boyfriend, and just take my time.
That plan was really built on my own fear – fear of returning to God, admitting my mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and following Him down a different path – so it fell apart. About two months after graduation, my boyfriend and I broke up, and I realized I was chasing after a dream that I didn’t even really have. So I did the only reasonable thing left to do; I moved home.
Now, if I thought four years of maintaining a GPA above a 4.0 in college while managing a part-time job, leading a Bible study for a year and being in a sorority was hard, moving back in with my parents after four years of independence was on a level way beyond that. For those of you who’ve graduated and moved home for a spell, we have shared in the struggle. God bless you, and God double-bless our parents.
I’ve now been living at home for three months, and it’s been a lot of crazy – a lot of me asking God what He wants me to do, a lot of relearning the rules of my parent’s homes, a lot of struggling to find a job, a lot of tears and hopelessness, a lot of joy, a lot of prayer, a lot of new friendships and a lot of God-driven miracles. During my time back home, God has renewed the vision in me to become a full-time international missionary, and I am even surer of this calling than ever before. He has given me a wonderful church home.
He has placed people in my life that are in the same season as I, and He has brought healing to places within me where I had simply settled for pain. He has given me the word to enjoy this period of waiting on Him. This is a period of rest, of waiting, of trusting, and of becoming prepared. God has made this clear, and He has promised a God-sized miracle and plan by December.
I believe in this promise and I am more than ok to sit and wait until then – to make good use of this time but to be obedient in waiting and expectant of such a gift. When everyone around me was pressuring me to take any job they could God was telling me to wait for the job He would bring me, I waited and He provided. I turned down jobs with good salaries. I looked like I was failing at finding a job after graduation, but I wasn’t. I was simply waiting for the job that God needed me to be at. I have been rewarded for listening to God’s instructions over any others, and I will do the same in this time. December will bring something special, a miracle, and I can wait for it.
None of this has been easy. None of this has made me look like the picture of a thriving, successful graduate. I am not networking and mingling with stars or making an impressive salary. I don’t even know where I will be in a month, two months, or six months from now. I hope that six months from now I will be walking down the main dirt road in the village of Borae on my way to church or to market or to take tea, but only God knows His plans for me and I will trust in Him completely.
I hope this story inspires you to be fearless when facing your mistakes, to be fearless in the face of uncertainty or standing out from the crowd, and to feel sure of the utmost goodness of God and His plans for you. I hope this inspires you to consider beginning a relationship with Jesus that will change your life like only He can. If you don’t know who Jesus is or you don’t believe in Him, but you want to or you want to know more, I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust in the church or on campus in a student ministry and ask them questions. You can also reach out to me and ask me any questions.
I wouldn’t be able to live radically for Jesus if I didn’t have a strong reason to believe in Him. This relationship with God is real and once you experience it you know that to be true. It is by God’s grace that I am here to tell this story, and I am honored to tell it, even in the midst of an uncertain future, but always with the certainty of God’s promises for provision.