One year ago today was my last day working at Ventura College. It was a Thursday afternoon. Friday was supposed to be my last day, but I needed that day for me so I made the impromptu decision to call in sick.
Leaving work that Thursday was surreal. After all, I had left the campus every weekend for four years and returned the following week to do the same thing over and over again. Students, staff, websites. Emails, phone calls, trainings. For four years, my weeks looked the same. This day, this last day, felt both anticlimactic and breath-taking. It was a gorgeous, sunny evening, the kind of evening that bridges the gap between summer and fall. I walked the short distance from my office to my car, clicked my seat belt… and I was done. I thought I would cry as I am basically the most sentimental human being on the planet, but instead of tears filling my eyes, butterflies filled my stomach.
I was tired. So, so tired. I needed to rest. I had the giddy hope of something greater coming, some shift in my life that I couldn’t explain but could only feel deeply inside of my. The feeling was fleeting and when I tried to name or explain it, the words refused to come, but always, always the feeling came back.
I know that there are many who would say that I was being absurd for complaining about my job. If you ask anyone with a rational mind, they’d say that what I did was exceptionally stupid. Who leaves a job with a salary that was ridiculously huge for a single woman with no real responsibility? Who leaves a job with benefits that made others envious? Who leaves a job with a supportive boss and opportunities for creativity and growth? Who leaves a job with great coworkers, a job related to the very expensive masters degree he or she earned?
A 29-year-old woman bowing under the weight of job that was breaking her.
I know I left a lot of good behind, but my heart longed and ached for something better than just good. It longed for the great, and I knew, I just knew, that my job was the one thing that was holding me back from the great.
I know. I know how absurd that sounds. But I also knew that I was only ever going to be where I was if I never got brave enough to risk it all and walk away.
I didn’t walk. I ran.
It’s crazy how the doors to things opened the moment I left. As I drove off that campus, I didn’t feel dread. I left pumped. I felt like anything was possible, because literally for the first time since I started working there, anything was possible.
Something that I didn’t tell many people before I left the college was that for a while, I had felt the call to go into full-time vocational ministry. I didn’t really understand what that meant. All of those words alone made sense but together they were a jumble of something too big for me to decipher. And to be completely honest, I was baffled by the pull I felt because aside from serving in kid’s ministry and a few other small things at the church, I wasn’t involved in ministry, really.
The rest is history, as one might say. I found a ministry. In five days, I went from hesitant to volunteering and later helping to coordinate things. I job hopped. I moved around work so much that I quit telling people what I was doing because I didn’t want unsolicited criticism thinly disguised as advice. I felt lost. I was search for a firm place to land, to rest after those four exhausting years at the college. When I began working as a temp at a tax firm, I found a light-heartedness to my work that I missed the entire time I was at the college. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We were professional. We were respectful and we took our work seriously. But when it was just us, there were jokes and goofing and maybe some Russian accents. My days were filled with laughter and a joy in working that I’d never known in a professional, post-graduate field.
And then it ended. Two days after my 30th birthday, I was unemployed. I knew it was coming. After all, tax season has an end date that doesn’t change as the years move forward. It was then that I felt, for the first time, panic. I began applying for jobs in crazy numbers. Multiple copies of my resume and cover letters filled up folders on my computer. I applied for jobs in Portland, thinking I could move there because I have friends who are planting a church up there. I have never once felt like God was preparing me to plant a church, but I was desperate. I had money, but not endless buckets of it. I had time, empty hours reminding me that I was running out of cash. I had bills that didn’t understand I was unemployed.
The day after I applied for two jobs in Portland (and said a quick “If it’s Your will, God” prayer), I received a call for an interview for a job I had applied for months before. And the next day, completely unsolicited, I woke up to a call from the lead pastor of my church, asking if I’d be interested in the open administrative assistant job. Over the next five days, I was interviewed and I prayed. I was interviewed and I prayed. I was interviewed and I prayed, and I said yes.
Those few days are more surreal to me than leaving the Ventura College campus for the last time was. Because here it is, one year since I walked away from security, and here is is, four months since I said yes to full-time vocational ministry. I feel more secure than I ever have before. Saying no to something allowed me to say yes to something else: yes to the great I was longing for. In the world’s eyes, what I have is not greater. I left all of the great behind according to their standards. But I’m here to tell you this:
I’m resting on great.
God is good.
My heart is firm.