Well, folks, John and I have landed. We are in Nashville, and it’s hot, humid, and way more bug-gy than I remember (my legs, currently, have about 20 red and itchy welts from mosquitoes). We are adjusting to this new life and are exhausted—a move like this makes a week feel like one long, perpetually busy day. But, between unpacking boxes, running errands, organizing our mixed belongings, and refinishing a coffee table and TV stand that I’m slightly in over my head with, we’re both maddeningly, overwhelmingly happy.
I’ll look up from working at my computer and see John looking at me with this big, cheesy grin, and every so often, I get sudden pangs of gratitude, like pebbles slingshot at my heart, when I see him taking out the trash or making dinner, simple gestures just to help me out. Is this what romance is as an adult? If so, I think I’m in. I’ll talk more about the move later on, but right now I want to share something else, a major a-ha moment, that happened leading up to this giant trip from Texas to Tennessee.
Faith is an interesting thing. It’s trusting in something greater than yourself, something not completely comprehendible, and that trust is ideally wholehearted and unwavering. Anyone with faith in anything, religious or not, knows, though, that doubts and uncertainties creep in still. It’s human nature, and I am so painfully human most days.
I’m writing this post out of a place of honesty and humility and, truthfully, because I became awestruck recently by faith working in my life—but this post is not out of “preaching” or even telling people what they should do or believe. That’s not my place or my decision.
Religion isn’t talked about often online, at least not in the places I go daily (Instagram, Facebook, and so on). But, as a strong believer in going as hard against the grain as possible, here we go: Let’s jump into one of those weird, first-date-no-no subjects right here.
I was raised Christian, but my faith has gone through incredibly weak, nearly nonexistent periods. Throughout college I felt farther away from God than ever before. I had just graduated from a Lutheran high school, where religion was simply intertwined into everyday things: teacher-led prayers before tests, coach-led prayers before soccer games, whole classes devoted to different books in the Bible, and, of course, weekly chapel.
In college, when all of that disappeared and I embraced what I thought was freedom from so much organized religion being thrown at me, I did that thing that naïve kids do when they get to college. I partied too much, drank too much, and started placing my worth in things other than faith, like attention from men.
Even after college, I struggled making the time to go to church or even to pray. I felt so disconnected from God that I ignored him altogether. Between changing jobs, adjusting to life post-school, and starting a relationship, I experienced a solid share of ups and downs, and especially during those ups, I’d feel a desire to reconnect and find a church home.
For the last several months, John and I have been going to Valley View Christian Church, a nondenominational church in North Dallas. (Side note: If you’re in the area and looking to try somewhere new, I really do love this church. The pastor, Joe, is relatable and kind-spoken, which is something important to me when finding a church—and also hard to find in Texas, to be totally honest. I don’t thrive or receive the message well, if at all, in fire-and-brimstone, more aggressive church environments.)
Getting back into going to church has been like finally getting a drink out of a cold water bottle after a long run. I can’t describe how transformative it’s been to have this place where I feel so encouraged by and connected with God. I find myself dealing with things that would normally make me feel upset or impatient in much different ways—not to say I am by any means perfect (at all), but there’s an extra step in my processing of information and situations, a certain perspective I’ve missed these last few years.
Valley View’s mission is to love God by loving people, and something they’re adamant about as a church is prayer. I always prayed growing up, or took part in group prayer with family or classes, but I still never really knew how to do it. “How” might not be the right word, though—I more so felt that I didn’t have anything valuable or interesting to say.
But I’ve learned through my reinvestment in my faith that, even if you have no means (money, time, and so on) to help others, praying is truly a conversation with God that can ignite his heart and hand to make changes as he sees fit. As someone who’d basically ignored God for a chunk of years, I was nervous about prayer for a long time. Why would he listen to me?
I felt that way until one morning in June when I woke up, sat down on my closet floor with the door closed, and started talking. I still didn’t really know what to say. I said some thank yous for good things going on, some sorrys for the endless list of mistakes I’ve made, and some pleases for requests in my life and in others’ I know and love. And then I kept doing that same thing, every morning, for the last, probably, month or so.
As the plans for John’s and my move to Nashville began taking more vivid shape, I knew I needed to pray for sanity (I have never done a move this big, and nervous would be an understatement for how I felt) and also guidance and patience.
Early on in this moving scenario, probably three to four months ago, I got a part-time, freelance job copyediting and writing for Nashville’s city magazine. That eased some of my fears about possibly resorting to changing fields after the move (journalism is tough to break and stay into), but it certainly did not ease my fears about finances. As you can imagine, freelancing doesn’t exactly rake in the big bucks, and with John going into school full-time, though he has plenty of savings and financial aid, he won’t have actual income for the next two years.
So, yeah. Needless to say, the pressure was amounting to uphold my end of the finance situation. I emailed every publication in town to see if I could write or do any kind of work for them, and nothing really came of it. I started applying to freelance jobs online, anything dealing with writing or editing that I could do remotely. I talked with my mom, a longtime Keller Williams team leader and realtor, about getting my real estate license.
And every morning, along with my thank yous and sorrys and pleases to God, I would ask him for something, really anything, to pan out so I could feel a sense of security financially. I don’t need to be rolling in dough, but I do need to be able to pay my half of rent and bills.
One of the things I did during my frenzied search for extra work is sign up for Care.com, a forum I used in college to find babysitting jobs. I created a profile and let it be, saving that option for last if I couldn’t find anything else journalism-related. After not touching my account for weeks after signing up, a few weeks ago I got a message from a woman saying she and her husband need a nearly full-time nanny for their five-month-old. Two weeks out from the move with not another job in sight, I hopped on the phone with her immediately.
This is how I know God has heard my prayers. I absolutely don’t think he answers every prayer. I don’t think he needs to. But when someone prays consistently for a need in their life, and then puts in the work on their end to accomplish as much as they can, I do believe God can work amazing wonders.
I never imagined I would be nannying again at 24 years old, but this family is so wonderful, and, truly, the situation couldn’t be better. The mom is a nurse; the dad owns his own business. They don’t work typical corporate hours, which allows for some flexibility with my schedule. I told her the only other gig I have is freelance work for a magazine, and she immediately invited me to use their Wi-Fi whenever the baby is napping to do any work I might have. The hours aren’t restricting, the parents are so sweet and welcoming, and the pay, as I asked God for morning after morning, absolutely takes care of my side of things.
Call it manifestation, call it divine intervention, call it whatever you’d like. To me, it’s a true testament and the most powerful proof that God hears me, and that is something worth sharing.