Since coming home from Thailand I’ve been faced with the question, What’s next? Though I answer with confidence, the truth is that a lot of the time I second-guess myself and doubt my decisions. It’s only when I think back on my story that I’m confident that, although I have been literally all over the map, God has been guiding each step specifically and purposefully.
I thought it was finally time to write it down for a few reasons: to remember God’s faithfulness, to share his goodness, and to continue walking in hope to that irresistible future.
Chapter I: The Awakening
My story starts when I got on a plane bound for Vancouver back in 2008. Of course, my story actually started before I was born, when God saw my unformed body and all the days ordained for me were written in his book (Psalm 139:16). But the point at which I actually woke up and realized that I was part of a bigger story – a story that God had been writing all along – was in 2008 when I got on that plane bound for Vancouver.
And here’s how it happened:
It was Round Two in a dating relationship with a guy from my church in my hometown. I should have known after Round One that we weren’t right for each other. We wanted different things. I wanted to live overseas; he wanted to buy a house in town, close to his family. I’m a funny person, but for some reason I couldn’t make him laugh. He wanted to fast-track the relationship and get married, but I needed time to get to know him. Plus, his mom was still calling me Nicole. That was awkward.
It didn’t matter anyway, because he changed his mind about me. But that didn’t happen until after I turned down a once in a lifetime opportunity to work as a writer and magazine editor for an international holistic church planting organization in – you guessed it – Vancouver. (And let me tell you, people with degrees in “Professional Writing” are rarely fortunate enough to actually land writing jobs).
I applied for the job before the start of Round Two, when I felt the freedom to pursue what I wanted. I immediately received a positive response from the organization; they wanted to meet me! As luck would have it (or as God had ordained it), I was travelling to Yellowknife two weeks later to visit a friend, and my flight just so happened to route home through Vancouver. I made a quick phone call to Air Canada and changed my connecting flight so that I could catch the redeye to Toronto after spending the day with the team at MB Mission. As a kid two of my dreams had been to live in Vancouver and to be a magazine editor. Maybe this was going to happen!
The day before my departure was when a discussion regarding Round Two was initiated. Talk about timing. He wanted me back, and he was willing to wait – as long as it took. Since I was going away for a week he thought it would give us both some space to think. I wish I could say that I was strong enough to know at that point that Round Two wasn’t a good idea. Unfortunately I wasn’t. While my intention was to get away and reflect, in reality all I did was think about him, and about all the reasons why I couldn’t move across the country.
My day long interview with a handful of staff members at MB Mission in Vancouver went well. So did the two writing assignments I was given – a timed summary and a take-home report. Two weeks after my interview and one week after submitting my report, I had a conversation with my future supervisor, JP, and the Executive Director, Randy. It was Friday and they told me I should expect to hear from them on Monday regarding the position.
Imagine my surprise when JP called me back 10 minutes later with an official offer. I was their number one candidate! I should have been elated, but I was just confused. He gave me until Tuesday to think about it, but the confusion only worsened in the days that followed.
Of course I told myself that it wasn’t just because of the guy. There were a lot of things that I wanted to pursue – did I really see myself working for a church planting organization? I wanted to work with hurting teenage girls. Never mind that this was the first job interview I’d had in months, or that my stopover in Vancouver just seemed to come together so seamlessly. No, I couldn’t move. Besides, in the previous weeks I had been experiencing relentless pursuit from this guy, and we all know how much a girl loves pursuit. Round Two was on!
With trembling hands I called JP and stumbled over my words, completely mixing up what I was trying to say, “My heart is saying yes, but my head is saying no. Oh…wait. No! Sorry. My HEAD is saying yes, but my heart is saying no.”
And then I realized how ridiculous I sounded. Head…heart…what’s with the clichés?! I continued, all the while wondering if I was doing the right thing, “Thank you for your offer, but I am going to decline.”
JP was so gracious. “We understand, Natalie, but we’re still sad.” Then he continued, “Can I tell you something? We believe that we met you for a purpose. We believe that we’re going to see you again.”
Feeling a little bewildered, I managed a “Thank you.” JP seemed confident in his statement, but I didn’t believe it. To be honest, I thought it was a little presumptuous to declare such a thing.
We ended our conversation and I hung up the phone. All of a sudden that small chapter in my life called “My Brush with British Columbia” was over.
Or so I thought.