On the first day of kindergarten, I repeated my teacher’s name about a million times for my parents before they walked me to the bus stop. (I’m still convinced those letters have no business forming a name, let alone sitting right next to each other.) The point is, on the first day of kindergarten, I was terrified to get the whole thing wrong–and not just my teacher’s name.
New beginnings are inherent to life–as is change–and so fearing those things can drive a person crazy. New beginnings can be a bit like putting a wet bathing suit on. It fits. And you are raring to get back into the sun and water but those first ten seconds of wearing it aren’t comfortable. As I started this new job, I was not afraid. But there are nerves. I am calmed by the belief that this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing. That is a sweet place to be.
The past two years have been filled to the brim with transitions, changes, beginnings, and even endings. I’ve learned those are all the things that make up an adventure. I’ve been asked to step out in faith, into adventure, time and again, trusting His plan for me. And each time I’ve lifted my feet and moved one foot in front of the other, I’ve been so thankful.
I’ve never regretted it.
I love the first page of a new notebook–blank and fresh. But sometimes new beginnings aren’t as easy a new moleskine. Sometimes you are moving (across the country) (twice). Sometimes you are a starting a new job in a new again city.
There are nerves and excitement and when there is fear I have to let it go, like a whoosh of breath. The thing is that the past two years have been all about leaps and risks. Is that life or is it something in me changing? Sometimes I think: oh, I must be immune to that pit of nervousness in my stomach.
But hey. Guess what? I’m not.
And I don’t really want to be.
Because the truth about (new) adventures and new beginnings is that they are opportunities to grow and learn–about yourself, about the world, about God. I don’t want to ever stop walking out in faith. I don’t want to play it safe and I certainly don’t want to settle.
But wanting this and living it are two different things. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m nervous to meet new people and colleagues (and I’m a people person!). I’m nervously eager to do a quality job in this blessing I’ve been given. My brain is the opposite of GPS so I am anxious to relearn Chicago (since I’ve forgotten what little I “knew”).
Nerves and faith are not exclusive. I trust God with this new beginning but I’m a little nervous.
But fear. Fear is different. Fear clutches you and hold you back. Fear is unbelief. Fear is saying no to adventure. Fear and faith oppose one another.
Around the internet and also in real life, there always seems to be this chatter–a grass is greener mentality. As humans, this grass is greener mentality isn’t new but it keeps coming back to singleness vs. marriage. I hate that I even have to write the word versus between the two of those things.
Basically, I have heard and read some version of this again and again:
“Isn’t life so much better with a husband?”
In my opinion, it’s a way of thinking that needs to be addressed.
But before I do that, I need to tell you my heart behind this. It is not to call anyone out. It is to bring this sisterhood of blogging (so amazing!) even closer together. I read blogs written by women who are married without children and married with children (and those things should be celebrated). I also read blogs, like mine, where the blogger is single (and those bloggers should be celebrated and supported too). My heart behind this post is to encourage all of us…because “we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
I don’t blame people who speak or write the way which inspired this post. Instead, I want to point out something I mentioned awhile ago (The Truth About Adventures). One of my tips is: never belittle a coadventurer.
I was able to go to San Francisco and learn so much about myself and the world and the Lord. Meanwhile, my friend mothered three children and I guarantee she learned so much about herself, the world, and the Lord as well.
Is her adventure less than mine? No. Is it more? No.
We are all on unique and crazy adventures. Would my current adventure be better with a husband? No.
The only ring I currently wear is from my grandparents.
Because God has a plan. He is sovereign. And I’m not married right now. Do I want to be married? Yes. I really do. But let me just tell you, if I believed the lie: life is better with a husband, I would be making an idol of marriage. Not only that but how would I be able to enjoy where God has me now? How could I enjoy this adventure?
I choose to believe that God’s best for me is in this moment. I choose to believe that on this very day, today, I am not missing out and God is not holding out on me. I choose to believe that God wants the best for me, always.
Of course I long to meet the man God has for me. But for now, it does no good and it would be wrong to think life will be better when I have a husband. Having a husband doesn’t protect against tragedy or hardship. And can I just tell you, from what I’ve been told, even when you are married to your best friend, marriage is hard. It is worthy work but it is hard work.
Right now, I am single. And my life is not worse or less because of it.
In my experience, any statement that includes words like life is better with/when blank leads to trouble. Life is better with Jesus. Period. That has to be our standard. Or we are doomed to disappointment and heartache and eventual emptiness.
And I’ll still read the love/wedding stories on the blogs I love because I love those bloggers and I love their stories. My singleness is not something to be defensive over. I like reading stories about all kinds of women in all kinds of stages of life because it all comes back to this: we are all on our own adventures and we should never belittle a coadventurer or her adventure itself. I love reading how God is at work in everyone’s life–married or single. And when God is at work, no one gets the worse or the better end of the stick.
Thoughts? I’m seriously interested.
P.S. Don’t forget the raffle!! It’s called The Fullness of Joy Giveaway. How apt for this post. Let’s live in the fullness of joy where we are now.
Slowly but surely, I am trying to take you back in time through the process of moving because it was blog worthy, trust me. And that’s part of the adventure this blog is about. So yes, today, circle around, my friends, to hear a little story, I like to call: “I need a Bed.”
From the call offering me an interview in San Francisco to my plane taking off, we (because let’s face it, I could not have done this without either of my parents but at this point, when it comes to packing, I could not have done it without my mom) had 48 hours to pack. My mom, oh wise one, decided we should pack one large suitcase and then put into piles what she would send and when, if I got the job and decided to stay.
This felt real. If I had time, I would have been freaking out but every time I tried to freak out, my mom said, “We don’t have time for this.” She was right. So I didn’t get to freak out.
Meanwhile, I ran between my Dad’s house and my mom’s house trying to get the things I needed. At one point, my stepmom stopped me. I looked at her with crazy eyes, so frazzled and trying to find everything I needed. She decided that this was an ideal moment to say something brief, but serious. I will have to paraphrase but I believe I am pretty close to what she said. She was also completely genuine.
“Nina, I am just so glad this is happening so quickly for you so you don’t even have time to think it through.”
I just nodded, as if I understood what she was saying, because hello, I wasn’t going to be able to sleep for the next two days with all the stuff I had to do.
“It’s just so perfect. God knows you so well. Because it’s happening so quickly, you don’t have time to analyze it, or think too deeply about it.”
What are you saying to me????
With no time to analyze these insane musings of an otherwise normal stepmom, because ain’t nobody got time for that, I peaced out.
I fly to San Francisco.
I spend the week with a boy I knew from high school where I clean their bathroom with bleach so I can use it. (I don’t want to get into it and you don’t want me to either.) I need a place by Sunday. So I go on the internet, find a sublease. On Monday, works starts, so on Monday I go to work.
And on, and on, and on it goes.
Each day, there is a very clear immediate need and all I can focus on is that next step, nothing else.
Of course, I didn’t really see this at the time. Probably because I’ve never acted like this in my life. If there is something to worry about, I will find something to worry about. Everyone who knows me personally is nodding their heads together now.
It comes to the point in the summer, where I decide to stay, and need an apartment. So I find an apartment.
This should overwhelm me, especially me of all people, but I need a place to live. What am I going to do? Not look for an apartment because it can be stressful? Insert the rising prices in SF (beating Manhattan in rent, wah hooooo) but now I’m the one solely responsible for an apartment, I could freak out. (Okay so in all truthfulness, I did call my dad crying because prices were so high there was literallly NONE in my budget, even in the bad parts of town but, he had the same, you-need-a-bed attitude. “You have to raise your budget and figure it out, Neen.” 5 points for dads!) After said phone call and taking in the high rents and this great responsibility, I sign the papers. I now sell my soul every month for a studio apartment. But do I have time to freak out? Nope. You know what? I cannot worry about those things. Because I needed, how do you say, a freaking bed to sleep on?
So that’s what I do next.
I buy a bed. I pay some kid with a pick up truck to take me across the bridge to Ikea to pick up my 89 dollar bed that would have cost double to ship and I coordinate the mattress delivery. (Please scroll up and look at that picture though. That’s a pretty nice 89 dollar bed!)
Normally, I would freak out. So many things could go wrong. But what am I supposed to do?
I need a bed.
Ironically, that day at work someone realizes I moved across the country. “How are you doing this job and dealing with all of that?”
I just look at them and say, “I can’t worry about all the extra things. Today, I need to do my job. And I need a bed..”
It then hit me that my stepmom was not crazy at all. (Yay, Karen!) She knew me very well. If I had three months to mull over what it would have meant to move across the country…guess what?
I would have never done it.
If I knew now what it would take to move across the country, even though it has been great and I’ve learned so much, guess what?
I wouldn’t have the guts to do it.
It’s a lot of work when you list out every single thing I had to do and still have to do. Yes, the process is still ongoing a year and a half later.
But when you just think: “Today, I need a bed,” things tend to clear up quickly. Priorities, people, priorities. So even now, when stressed, I try to say this to myself:
“Nina, you need a bed.”
So that, my friends, is the story of my bed.
Love and all that,
P.S. Obviously a major point, in case you missed it, is that it takes a village. My mom and dad were amazing, each in their own unique ways. My nonna and aunt were incredible (more on them and the move later). And I’m blessed to have an extra person in my corner of the village, my stepmom.
Despite the smile in this picture (read: I know I am three and cute and everyone in this family wants a picture of me on their own iPhone but I want to get off this rock and play in the sand), there is no one in my life who has taught me more about fearlessness than this girl.
One day, while we were on our vacation, a man purposely went into a garbage can and took out a bunch of food. I just thought he was homeless but I was wrong; he just wanted to created a Seagull Riot four feet away from me and my little sister. They were rabid for this half eaten pizza and trying to kill anyone who got in the way. Because of the way we were positioned, I couldn’t get the two of us away and so unfortunately, we watched all this happen.
I am not going to lie, I was scared. These birds wanted that food and there were sounds of aggression and sounds of pain as they hurt one another to get it. (I think there is a metaphor here for another post but I’ll stick with my point here). Most of all, they were close to us! In order to keep the food to themselves, they kept coming closer and closer so they could turn their back on the flock, thus bringing the flock with them.
Maybe it’s just me but I don’t love rabid seagulls. Especially when I am holding my little sister.
She sat on my lap, watching all this happening. “It’s okay, Neen,” she murmured to me above the din of the birds and pat one of the hands I had around her waist. “Don’t be scared.”
I know her well enough to know that she wasn’t scared based on the tone of her voice. She’s said the same thing to me when I screeched that the Wicked Witch stole Toto in The Wizard of Oz. She knew, sitting on her sister’s lap, with our brother right beside us, that those birds were not going to hurt her. Period. End of story.
“I’m scared of birds,” I admitted to her. (Okay? So what? I am. And no, I didn’t know I was until I was in Venice and surrounded by them.)
She tilted her head back and gave me her trademark smile. “No, you’re not scared,” she told me. I can’t tell you the number of times she has said this to me in the past year–the three year old to the twenty five year old. I love the way she says it too–as if I’m being silly, as if her big sister Nina would never be scared of a rabid seagull flock because her big sis is too tough for that. It’s that simple for her and maybe it should be.
People take care of her. They make sure she is safe and protected and rightfully so, since she is three years old. She doesn’t really have anything to be afraid of–even when she is literally leaping from furniture into my arms, she isn’t afraid because I always catch her. I’ve never missed. She doesn’t know fear yet, this little girl who thinks the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are funny, and I would be lying if I told you she is not constantly teaching me things.
“I’m scared,” I admit to her.
“No, you’re not,” she always replies, as if I am so silly.
When I consider my brief twenty five years (perhaps a bit longer than three but still brief), I don’t have the same track record as Ava. People have failed me and more often, I have failed myself. But. But. But.
There is always Someone catching me, every single time. And if He allows me to fall, there has always been a purpose behind it–something better. Every single time. So I can leap with just as much fearlessness as Ava. Sometimes I just need my little sis to remind me of the these huge, important life lessons.
And let’s face it, adventures require fearlessness. That doesn’t mean, I am never afraid; it only mean I choose something different.
This is my favorite photograph I took during the whole trip because it encompasses so much of who this little girl is today and perhaps maybe a little glimpse of the girl she will become someday.
Listen to my sister: be fearless,
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3
The night before my first day AT THE JOB I MOVED TO SF FOR, I moved into my sublease, a little pinterest world, decorated by an artist who was spending the summer in Belgium with her boyfriend. I didn’t even have time to unpack. I brought my clothes for the first day into the shower (which I could not get to work which lead to a frantic call to Mom) to steam them and then went to sleep, my route for the next day programmed into my iPhone and my alarm clock set extra early so I could not miss the trolley that would take me to my first day at my new job.
You know what they say about good intentions, right?
photo by lis…crazed expression by me
It didn’t matter that I woke early. I still ran to the trolley, missed it, and had to wait the “seven minutes” (this is a lie; it takes longer than that) for the next one. I hopped on, paid my singles (has to be singles, here) and sat next to a dog. For real.
Here is the thing: trolleys? They don’t move fast. In fact, when they move fast they automatically disconnect from the line. When I lived in that sublease there was one trolley driver who, I am not kidding, every single day, disconnected at least twice from one stop to the next.
I watched the clock on my phone nervously. Then I made a bold (dumb?) move. I jumped out one stop early and ran and ran. Yes, ran. Several blocks, in fact, so I would not be late to my first day at this new job. If you know, or if you have been reading my blog, you know I am a bit of a perfectionist. I still have dreams from HIGH SCHOOL where I forget my homework. Being late on the first day of a new job? Definitely at the top of my my most mortifying moments.
So I ran. I was sweating. I hit the elevator button a million times and by the time I reached my floor, my training class was already somewhere else. (Insert rising mortification.) Someone had to take me to them. It was a room filled with about twenty guys and one girl who looked at me with desperation in her eyes, as if I was her holy grail. (Let’s be honest, us girls have got to stick together and Lis–that’s right; it was Lis–did not want to be in a class full of guys for two weeks).
I realized with my sweaty face, my hair ruined, that I had two choices. I could sink to the floor in mortification or better yet slip out the door never to be seen again. I could call my parents and cry. Or I could do this: I could walk to my empty seat, apologize, laugh it off, and explain I’ve only been in the city for a week and make my morning adventure funny. Oh, look at that funny girl from Chicago with that funny accent. She is a bit sweaty but hahaha! I could meet Lis’ eye across the room and smile. I could get my work face on and I could do it.
Here is one more truth about adventures: there will be moments where life does not go anywhere near to plan. There will be moments of extreme mortification. But you always have the choice whether to choose mortification or choose adventure. In my life, I’ve done both. But that first day of work, I chose adventure and have not looked back.