It’s been exactly 40 days since my last blog post – 40.
An ironic number, really: one that God seems to love, considering the numerous biblical stories in which 40 seems to play a significant role.
40 days of flooding the earth.
40 days in the wilderness thwarting Satan’s temptations.
40 years wandering the desert in search of the promised land.
40 days of taunts from a giant.
40 years each of great kings’ reigns.
And now, 40 days of literary silence.
Not that I consider myself biblically significant, but my faith does direct my attention to the irony of it.
In each of these instances of 40, significant changes happen; God starts anew, teaches lessons, builds strength and faith. None of the individuals involved in these stories came out of these periods the same as when they went in.
But this post isn’t a theological exploration of the stories of Noah and the Ark, Jesus in the Wilderness, the Israelites’ search for God’s Promised Land, David and Goliath, or the reigns of Kings Saul, David, & Solomon; this is about my life and the grappling between trust and grief as my best-laid plans now lay shattered at my feet.
… … …
Perhaps I should start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…and please don’t judge me for that reference because I just couldn’t help myself).
I started 2020 with high spirits: I was moving out of San Francisco permanently after finishing graduate school there, with the intent to move to New York City. This was finally it – this was the opportunity I had been waiting for! This was my time to shine! I was going to move to NYC to pursue a career in theatre as a playwright and performer. My plan in getting started was to live with some family who had graciously offered to let me stay with them while I worked on finding a job and an apartment.
I moved on February 27, 2020. The first few weeks I was in the city, I started attending a new church and making connections, worked on finding jobs, and continued writing. A lot. Like, every day. I had a new blog that I wanted to expand, plus a script that I was working on that I wanted to finish so I could start looking for someone who might want to help get it on its feet.
(Oh, and I wanted to meet my soul mate and fall in love and live happily ever after. But when don’t I want that?)
Things were going about as I expected – new beginnings are slow and hard, so I wasn’t shaken by the little headway I made in the first 2 weeks I was there.
And then, the coronavirus pandemic really hit in mid-March. Everything shut down.
It’s fine, I’m fine, this is gonna work itself out!
So I stayed in New York, reluctant to return home when I’d only just arrived. But needless to say, this was a bit of a hitch in my plan. How was I supposed to make friends, date, and find a job when I wasn’t allowed to leave my house for anything except walking the dog and going to the grocery store?
I’ll admit, I fell back into my depression for a few weeks, the weight of the situation crushing my chest and whispering to me the sweet nothings of disappointment, frustration, and confusion.
After a few weeks, though, I bounced back. I joined my favorite nail polish company as an independent stylist and started my own business; I kept attending my online growth group through church; I tried to get out of the house at least 3 times a week, even if it was just to go to the sports field across the street with my cousin for her schoolday ‘recess’; and I tried to keep writing.
If I couldn’t pursue a career in theatre right at that very moment, I could at least keep writing so I’d be prepared when things did start to open back up. I also came up with a 3-month plan for my blog – I’d post once a week, and each month had a particular topic of focus. I’d even planned out which subtopics I was going to write on each week; I was ready!
But then the second wave of hopelessness hit – after about 3 months of being stuck inside, unable to do anything or go anywhere or meet anyone, I started to fall back into depression. There didn’t seem to be any end in sight. The monotony of my life was starting to overwhelm me, slowly but surely. Within a week, my writing schedule had fallen to pieces, and the only thing I did with my time was work my new business, and diamond painting (which, if you haven’t tried, is a highly satisfying and delightful crafting hobby).
My plans had changed, sure, but I still clung to what few threads of that plan were still in place: I was in New York City, I could still write (if I could ever find the motivation to), and I could still try to meet people.
… … …
I haven’t talked much about my personal faith in any of my posts thus far – and yet I decided to start this post with a bold discussion of the biblically significant number 40.
I don’t talk much about my faith because my faith in Jesus is less about proclaiming it to others and much more about finding self-love, self-worthiness, peace, and joy through a relationship with God. That doesn’t mean I don’t talk about it when it comes up, but my spiritual practice is centered on filling myself up with the love and light I need from God to offer my own love and gifts to the fullest in this world.
But this post warrants a discussion of what happened between when I wrote my last post 40 days ago and today.
I absolutely believe that the God I worship and connect with guides my steps in my life; since I discovered Jesus at 21, I fully attribute every single step in my path to God. Discovering drama therapy, moving to San Francisco, working at the Liberation Institute (and subsequently, the Arc SF), joining Cornerstone SF, and, most recently, moving out of SF and to NYC. My steps have been divinely directed, and I trust my gut/intuition (which I believe is the Holy Spirit’s guidance) enough to generally not question it much anymore.
So when my aunt called me to ask if I would be interested in coming to work for her for the summer, I listened to the peace within my gut, and I went.
… … …
40 days ago, I was living in New York City.
Within these past 40 days, I have driven from New York City to Ohio, then down to North Carolina, and completed my journey to Florida.
As I sit and write this post, I am in Tampa, having completed week two of living with my aunt and my four cousins in a nanny-type position for the remainder of the summer.
A lot can happen in 40 days.
Let’s look at that in relation to the plans I had at the beginning of this year:
I’m thousands of miles away from New York City.
I have no opportunities to work in theatre at all right now, or even really have time to write.
I’m working in childcare (which is something I love doing, but have never wanted to do as a career or in any kind of long-term capacity).
I have no dating opportunities (mostly because it makes no sense in this temporary living situation, nor do I have the time).
No part of where I’m at right now is even remotely close to my plan.
So why did I do it? Why did I willingly choose to leave my dream city, the place that represented opportunity, the next chapter of the rest of my life?
Because – whether you believe in God or whether you can relate to trusting your gut or intuition – forces beyond my awareness and comprehension took me out of NYC and into FL. I had to trust that. And I know that when I trust my gut, I live in peace.
I hadn’t envisioned any of this at the beginning of this year – I don’t think any of us envisioned any part of what our lives look like right now – and I will admit that I have battled feelings of confusion, disappointment, and even doubt in how my current circumstances fit into the larger picture of and plan for my life.
I spent 3 months in quarantine holding desperately onto whatever elements of my plan were still in place, growing all the more frustrated as more pieces slipped away. Something had to change – and a change in my circumstances is what I needed to stimulate a change in myself.
I had to willingly letting go of my grip on my plan to learn to trust and find contentment in each day ahead of me, rather than placing my happiness in the hands of external circumstances.
My 2020 plans were destroyed from the moment I set foot in New York – but there was a purpose in having those plans, even if they never came to fruition. They gave me hope and excitement – and feeling excited about what could be once I made it to NYC is what I needed to overcome the fear of moving there in the first place. So my ‘plans’ were good for getting me there, but ultimately, I can’t control my life and the circumstances in which I find myself.
I can’t wait to go back to New York, to jump on a fresh start at a career in theatre, to look for new opportunities to meet people and date.
But I trust that those things will come to pass in time; I’m just not the one who has to plan out how.
And I’m learning to find peace with that.
Cover photo credit: Max Bender on Unsplash