Alright. I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but how many of you thought I would actually even get to the third part in this series? I certainly didn’t. But here I am. So beep beep.
The third lesson I’ve learned since coming to Santa Cruz is this: the God of the impossible can do what you think is impossible – instead of changing your circumstances, He can change you.
So often I doubt God’s ability to do the truly impossible. I don’t think that atheist will ever come to saving faith. I don’t think that Christian will ever be brought to repentance. I don’t think that hope will ever become a reality. I don’t think that relationship will ever be reconciled. I really really doubt God’s power. And I think one reason I doubt God’s power is because I am usually looking to God to change circumstances. I know that’s what I did when I moved here. But that isn’t always the most impossible thing God could do…it’s just the most impossible thing I want Him to do. Because I don’t want Him to do what I think is truly impossible and actually change me. I often can’t even fathom that, I think it’s so impossible. So I settle for being upset at God for not doing what I want, i.e. changing my circumstances so I don’t have to change.
Okay so some of you might be confused. What happened to me that was so bad? You may be thinking, “I thought you decided to move to Santa Cruz, did it, and you’ve been living a normal life there ever since? Did someone die? Did you die? What is wrong with you?”
And I wouldn’t blame you.
Nothing bad did really happen to me. Except a few surprises that I didn’t expect (hence why I call them surprises).
- Surprise #1: When I decided to move up here, I had no love interest. A week later, to my surprise, someone came into the picture. I moved and he started pursuing me and I started finding comfort in the thought of getting my old life back if things with this person worked out. I could move back down to L.A. and act as if this whole Santa Cruz thing had never happened.
- Surprise #2: My new job wasn’t much of a change of pace. I was hoping for a slower paced job after being an RD at TMC, but I soon realized that wasn’t going to be the case. It was just a different kind of fast paced.
- Surprise #3: It turns out I missed my friends a whole lot more than I thought I would. I honestly didn’t think it would be that big of a deal because a lot of my friends were already moving away or would be within the next year or so of my move but then I actually moved and all the sudden had no friends. I remember waking up from a nap one night after my first week at the church and realizing I couldn’t just reach for the phone and call Esther to go grab dinner and tears just started pouring down my cheeks. I was totally alone and the reality of it was much more sad than the concept had been.
- Surprise #4: Living in Santa Cruz is expensive and I couldn’t afford to have my own perfectly decorated apartment and stay in it all the time like I had been able to do at TMC. The homebody in me was dying a slow, painful death.
- Surprise #5: I began working with two young guys (who are wonderful, btw) and, much like a first year of marriage can have a lot of issues to deal with, we had our fair share of issues to work through in our first year working together. It turns out I’m a fairly outspoken, independent, proud young woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do. Surprise!
- Surprise #6: Things didn’t work out with Surprise #1. My brilliant escape plan was foiled. And my pride wouldn’t let me give up and leave a few months into it. So I was trapped here.
All of this combined together to make me a very unhappy creature with my new circumstances. I rarely admitted that to anyone because of the aforementioned pride of wanting to thrive in my new job & city, but I begged God to change everything. Bring my friends here. Change my relationship status so I could move somewhere else with a decent excuse. Change the guys I work with. Make my circumstances bearable for me.
And in the midst of it I literally didn’t even want to pray that God would make me content, let alone happy (no wonder I was miserable!). I didn’t want to go at the pace I was going in my job, I didn’t want to love and sacrifice for my coworkers, I didn’t want to make new friends, and I most certainly did not want to stay single!
You know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” stuff? I didn’t want any part of it.
But surprise, surprise…God didn’t want to do what I wanted. He wanted to do something bigger. He wanted to change me (which was so painful at times!) He wanted to teach me to love and enjoy the guys I get to work with. He wanted to open my eyes to the way I mistreated and disrespected men. He wanted me to get to experience being cared for and supported by a church body, especially when I’m weak. He wanted me to stop being so strong and independent. He wanted to make me happy in Him instead of looking to a husband for escape. He wanted me to learn all the lessons I am writing about. In short, He wanted to free me & make me happy with an imperfect life. That sounds useful, when I think about it that way.
So I am looking back on nearly a year and a half here and I am amazed that my circumstances haven’t changed but I am happy. I literally did not think this was possible. I thought I could only be happy if I got what I wanted. But not a single friend has moved here. I am still working at the same place, in the same position, with the same people. I am still single. And yet everything has changed and I am so thankful to be here, I’m so thankful for every part of it.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
– Psalm 23:6