Back in February I was sitting at the bar top of our neighborhood restaurant rattling off sections of my day to Jeremy. Tapas arrived in quick succession which made me both happy and somehow more open. I always say that we all have at least one life defining moment that happened at a table over a meal.
One of mine was seconds away from happening.
I pierced a fluffy piece of mozzarella and let the fork wade it through a stream of olive oil. Right before I plopped the drenched soft cheese into my mouth I finished my sentence,
“And then she said that she thinks it will be very difficult for me to truly pursue my passion for writing and cooking while working full-time at Compassion.”
The mozzarella landed into my mouth and I waited for Jeremy’s wild disagreement to land in my heart. As I polished off my small bite I noticed that Jeremy was saying exactly nothing so I moved my eyes from the plate to his presence.
Jeremy’s presence comes into my life in all kinds of forms. Protector, lover, disagreer, agreer, provider, lover, frustrater… This is a broken life lived next to another broken life. And by ”next to” I mean all up in each other’s business. Next to. On top of. Underneath. Right in front of.
He was looking at me very calmly like he was about to carefully remove a jenga piece from my soul.
“I think it is time you leave Compassion.”
I sat so still because I had felt the dislodging of the jenga piece and was sure that my whole everything was going to crash right there.
Jeremy has always been my biggest supporter of my role at Compassion. He has cheered me on and celebrated every promotion, every project, every trip. When I would call him halfway around the world telling him we were about to sponsor another child he always exclaimed, “Yes! Let’s do this.” He never needed to see Compassion’s work up close to fully understand how much it meant to me and how God was using Compassion to change our hearts for the poor.
What happened next was grace upon grace filling all the space between us as I realized that not only were my soul places not crashing down but Jeremy had expertly removed the jenga piece and placed it in its rightful new spot and nothing budged at all. Within minutes I had the peace that transcends all understanding to agree and say,
“I think you’re right.”
If we look closely everyday we get to see all the ways that God really knows us. I marvel at God because while He could have easily brought me to this conclusion on my own He knew I needed to hear it from Jeremy first. He knew that maybe if I was the first to say it I would doubt it or maybe I would forever regret it.
The next several months were filled with conversations with my boss and teammates. I tried to sleep but found myself awake often at 2am and then 3:30am and then again at 5:00am asking God very important questions.
“What about everything we did at Compassion … all the opportunities and all You opened my eyes to?”
“How can I stay connected to the poor if I’m not working full-time at Compassion?”
The questions devolved a little as I became more frantic.
“What about my retirement plan?”
“What about my income?”
“What about the life I have built at Compassion?”
If I am being really honest I was not so much asking Him as I was reminding Him everything I was leaving behind. You can have the peace of God and still feel every shatter of your heart while you are walking the path He called good. For months I let shards of my heart break off and poke me bloody until I thought I would not sleep again.
This is what I love about Jesus, He’s not interested in us just being. Or just staying. He wants growth. He wants us to have life to the fullest. His full looks so ridiculously different from the world’s version of full that it is, most of the time, hard to get onboard with. He is not interested in our retirement plan, He is interested in our soul-plan. The one where we take the narrow road. The one where we love like Him to the very end.
The one where grace trumps well, everything.
The one where He whispers as you step into your new, impossibly small home, “Sometimes what I have for you is less, not more.”
My Jesus says the last is first. My Jesus had every religious authority questioning His every move because, “Hey – that’s not how that works around here!” My Jesus always responded, “I am going to heal anyway.” Or I am going to eat with them anyway. Or I am going to talk to her anyway. Or I am going to feed them anyway.
Last Friday, September 30 was my last day as a full-time employee at Compassion. I sent my last email and felt hot tears roll down the familiar path of my cheeks. Jeremy came home and we made homemade pizza.
While we were waiting for the dough to bake he said, “So, how are you?”
I put my hand out as if to signal him to stop. “Please don…” and the tears came again. He pulled me in and said, “Hey, I am the safe place.” In-between choking sobs I listed off everything I will miss and all the ways I was grateful that God allowed me to be and grow and do at Compassion.
I listed out all my fears clearly and carefully because it was the last time I wanted to visit those fears.
We pulled out the pizza from the oven and cut our slices. We served up glasses of wine and I let the red liquid poured out remind me of Jesus.
“Hey, can we take communion?” I asked.
We brought our glasses of wine up to our lips and I said quietly and reverently, “Jesus, I remember You. I remember everything You did for me. I’m broken and emptied but I remember You. And how You love. I don’t want to be anywhere apart from You.”
And then we broke off a piece of our pizza crust and I spoke it out loud, “Thank you for remembering me too.”
Jesus calls us to wait a lot. And then every so often He’ll say, “Ok. Now. Jump now” and He reminds me as I leap, “Things will break in the fall…like your heart. Or your pride. Or your savings account. But, don’t you know? I came as Healer.”
So on Monday, October 3 and every day since then I have woken up and whispered the only prayer I have right now,
“Here I am.”
And it is enough.
Author’s note: For those of you who are Compassion Bloggers – I am not leaving you! I hope to return soon to Compassion as a contractor and continue to be the visionary for Compassion Bloggers.
Also, if this post struck any kind of chord with you, will you please, please read this new book by Shannan Martin.
Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted
Reading this book through this transition has made me feel less alone. God calls us to do wild and upside down things for Him. Shannan puts into words so beautifully a life lived by God’s calling and she had me saying AMEN at the end of nearly every sentence. You can buy it here!
Thank you for walking this journey with me! This new new chapter of my life means more recipes for you and a meal plan and lots of other fun things that can gather us all to the everyday table. Stay tuned!
And? I would love to pray for you for any kind of transition God has you in. Just raise your hand in the comments. Explain as little or as much as you’d like. We’re all in this together. xoxo
See jaw. Hit floor.
I love you so much!
Sandra! The feeling is so mutual 🙂 all the love!
Oh, Bri. I can hear your heart and your love and trust in Jesus through your words. I look forward to hearing more of your journey because I know it will be amazing! We are in a waiting period of our own and my sweet husband is praying through staying in or retiring from the Air Force, the job he’s loved for nearly 20 years. Our little family is waiting for the Lord’s direction and the waiting has been so hard but so sweet.
Heather! Thank you so much for your encouragement. I will be praying for you and your husband. For God’s peace and divine intervention to shine through in so many unimaginable ways. The waiting … it is so hard and so purifying. Cheering you on from here. He has you all and I will join in prayer!
just trying to get the email
Oh my goodness Bri! This is such a big deal, it’s hard to think of you and Compassion breaking up after all these years haha! Just kidding, I completely support your decision and I’m excited to see what happens next with you guys! And I just want to thank you for sharing this all, it’s all so wonderful to read. 🙂 Love you, and I’ll be praying for you!