Slouching Towards Freedom
Two weeks ago, if you had asked me what my plan for my life was, I would have given you a very well-thought-out five-year-plan—one that would have concluded with the penultimate career achievement of becoming a head of school at the age of thirty-two. It seemed like the logical step in my career, and being the organized and rational person I am, I had convinced myself that climbing this corporate education ladder was what I should do.
My five-year-plan certainly didn’t include being twenty-seven, jobless, and moving home—and yet, here I am.
Let me back up a little. About a month ago, I moved to Arizona to begin a new job as dean of students. Before I accepted the position, I asked my mom if it was okay for me to move so far away, with the promise that it would only be for two years at most. She conceded that she would be fine with me going and that she was excited for me to take this step in my career. So, I sold my furniture, shipped my car, and bought a one-way ticket to Phoenix.
I got moved in, started my new job, and began to assimilate to what Arizonans refer to as “dry heat”—as if that makes 115 degrees Fahrenheit any more bearable. But, having one daughter 1,400 miles away in North Dakota, and the other 2,300 miles away in Arizona was proving to be much more difficult than my mom or I had anticipated.
I talked on the phone with my mom nearly every day, and most of the time she was great. But, night time, as I’m sure you can imagine, was when it got hard; when the emotion would set in; when the grief felt most pertinent and pressing, making it hard to breathe. Sometimes in these moments she would call and I was thankful for that, but it was hard to hear her hurting, knowing I couldn’t be there.
Before I left for Arizona, I stumbled upon one of my dad’s notebooks. In this specific notebook there was a list of things he wanted to write about for Julia and me—answers to questions we might have or advice he wanted to give us. In between relationship advice and how to raise your children, the notebook read, “take care of Mom.” As I listened to my mom on the phone and did my best to comfort her, I remembered that line, and I knew.
Several days later, I asked my mom if she wanted me to move home. The stoic she is, she of course said no, and reassured me that it was fine that I lived across the country. I responded by telling her that it was okay to ask for help sometimes—that sometimes strength means saying you can’t do something on your own. She said she would think and pray about it, and after a few short days, she told me she wanted me home.
That Monday, I spoke with my head of school to let her know that I needed to move back home to be with my mom—she seemed supportive and understanding and thanked me for letting her know ahead of time. And, by what seemed like fate, the head of a sister school in New York City happened to be the head of school from my first teaching job. It seemed like God was orchestrating everything perfectly.
And then the interview came, and I was asked if I thought I could be a good teacher after having experienced the loss of my dad. In the moment, I didn’t know how to respond to being asked such a pointed question, and I nearly cried right there on the phone. Somehow I finished the interview, but when I hung up, I knew I didn’t get the job, but I also knew that God was still calling me home.
It was easy for me to trust God when everything seemed to be going according to plan, according to my plan. And that’s where the issue lied, it was all going according to my plan, not His.
The Lord was quietly redirecting my path—he had been nudging me for a while, but I was too afraid to listen, too scared to step into the unknown, too prideful to heed God’s prodding. So, I let go of the fear, the anxiety, the pride, and I decided to trust.
I’ve been home for two days now and while I still have moments of anxiety, for the first time, in a long time, I feel free. I still don’t have a job, but I no longer feel shackled to my resume or a career. I still don’t know what God’s plan is, but I see him creating paths in places I never thought to look.
Yes, it’s scary to trust in something you cannot see; it’s anxiety inducing to put your hope in something that might never come to fruition, but that’s what faith is—that’s where freedom lies.
So, I may be twenty-seven, jobless, and living at home. But, I am untethered, and my soul is wild, and I’m excited to see where all of this (whatever this is) goes.