As you have probably noticed, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat for the last month or so.
Turns out, my boyfriend entertains me a lot more than anything I have to say.* That's right! Boyfriend! I'm glad Atlanta doesn't have a high pig population because I'm pretty sure my squeal when I say that would attract every hog in a 20-mile radius.
*(Proof that anything is possible?)
Before you assume I'm getting carried away, let me assure you... I am. But he deserves it. His name is Thomas Matthew Palmer, and he's amazing. Also, awesome, fascinating, incredible, marvelous, wonderful. (Yes, I just pasted all the synonyms for "amazing" from Thesaurus.com. I can't help that they all fit.)
He's the youth pastor and media guy here at the Dream Center where I'm working. He has a heart for God that challenges me everyday, and when he's around, I rarely stop laughing. He's blue-eyed, freckled, and is honestly the coolest person I've ever met. Besides my parents.
And, it's funny, because before I came here, everyone kept telling me, “Maybe you're going to Atlanta to meet ‘him.’” Ya know, "THE ONE." I responded that I was going for ministry and nothing else. I was on a dating hiatus and still had some unhealthy attachments to let go of.
Sitting here, thinking aloud, the expression, “Let go, and let God,” just came to mind. When I finally stopped trying to force my hand in the direction I thought was best for me, God had His way, which turned out to be infinitely more awesome. Yesterday, one of the Master's Commission students said something that really resonated with me: "God isn't interested in living your life with you. He wants you to live His life with Him." How true it is. Following God isn't about having your own plans and thoughts and letting God in on those, it's about laying all of those things down and grasping onto His plans and thoughts in order to live the life He has called you to.
And, from experience, I know there is no better life than that. Since moving to Atlanta, He has opened up a whole new life before me, which I guess would be the time to announce that I am in Atlanta to stay!!!
Originally, I committed to a four-month term. I figured I would move on in January, but God had other ideas. The fact that I have found the man I am going to marry here helps, but even before ever talking with Tom, I knew my time in Atlanta was going to extend far beyond December.
Coming to that realization rocked me. It was another Pivotal Life Moment, for you long-time readers. I wrestled with it. I had a deep and overwhelming sense that this decision would change the rest of my life. And, yet, there was an inner-knowing that I couldn't make any other decision and remain in peace.
A few days ago, I was telling HotMES (who has a great piece up about the sniper death sentence) that my idea of “success” has been destroyed in the last couple of weeks. I used to want to live in the spotlight: have my name on a masthead under "Editor-in-Chief," live in a pretty high-rise apartment, and see and be seen at fancy cocktail parties. I wanted to be somebody, and that's what I thought signified you had arrived. Since, however, I've realized that scenario involves years of chasing the wind or climbing one rung after the next on a never-ending ladder.
And, then, you die.
Sounds depressing, but isn't that the American dream without the spitshine and white picket fence? Reaching a new level of success, in whatever form that is to you, in order to be satisfied for .3 seconds before feeling the pressure to begin striving again for that next level. In this process, true satisfaction always alludes, tempting its followers farther on until the end when their years have been spent and it is permanently beyond their reach.
Here at the Dream Center, people aren’t what the average person would consider “successful.” They don't have a list of degrees and credentials, they will probably never have many material possessions, and no one outside of a 20-mile radius may ever hear their names. But their lives are fulfilled, and they are content.
I know the feeling. I have so much less "going for me" here than I ever had anywhere else, but I've never been more satisfied in my life. The verse, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee," comes to mind. Don't get me wrong, people in ministry aren't immune to being sidetracked by, at the risk of sounding uber-religious, things of the world. But though the sidetracking does occur, it doesn't seem able to gain control like it did when I was living a "regular" life.
A successful career and material possessions may still appeal to some part of me, but I'm not willing to spend my life pursuing those things, as they are, in the end, just things. Satisfaction isn't something I'm always seeking here; it's something I rest in everyday.
What an incredible gift. I pray the same for you.
Life with God is good in the ghetto.