I am sitting here, cozy in my favorite over sized sweater, surrounded by Christmas decorations and the cold weather. Today is my day off after months and months of hectic and busy planning for this past Saturday’s big event. Bethlehem Experience was a success, no doubt, but there was lots of learning along the way.
I’ve become hesitant to say certain things in this space and open my heart to the blog world, only because I have come to realize people actually read this thing. I may have a love of people and crowds am socially driven and I feed off of events and excitement. However, the walls are thick and the mortar is strong. Not that it is a terrible quality, but it is a reminder that with all people, no one ever knows the full story. We tend to assume a lot about people based off of our experiences, yet we have to remember our God is the Creator, and everyone has a story.
The past two years, going on three, I have been in a place where I never thought I would be: home. If you have ever had a conversation with me that got past the polite “hey how ya doin?” you would know that, ever since High School, all I ever wanted to do was get the hell out of dodge (or Tallahassee, as it were). My senior year of high school was ending and I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I was leaving and it was non-negotiable. I ended up attending Bible College, my life was changed (in a good way), and then two years later I graduated. Then came the question: “What now, God?” All I knew was “home” was not an option.
I had been in and out of Tallahassee for the past two years while going to and from school. However, before I left the first time, I had already checked out. Besides my family and a few close friends, I felt I had nothing there. So I prayed, the option of going to Italy came up and seemed like a good option. In fact, Italy sounded great! I would be an intern at the new Bible college campus, live in Europe and be about as far away from Tallahassee as possible. So I prayed but my mind was made up. After graduation from college I went home for the summer to work and save money and then headed off to Europe from where I would never return! Five months later I was back on a plane headed home with my tail between my legs. I had failed in my plan for ministry. I had failed my post-college plans. I had failed in my plan to escape.
I returned home, had a panic attack in Dillard’s (I still cannot go to the shoe department without feeling uncomfortable) and for the next four months everything was seen and lived in black and white. I had to make myself get out of bed in the morning, make myself eat, make myself fake it—I just got back from living in freakin’ Italy! I was living back at home in my old room, working for the state of Florida and trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do next. All I knew was I had to leave. I had to escape what I called the “pit of nothingness” that was my hometown. In my eyes, staying home was a dead-end and I was quickly approaching the wall. I had gotten burned in Italy and was done with anything that had to do with ministry. I told God that, if this was the plan, then I was sitting on the bench.
I don’t recommend anyone follow that line of thinking. You see He knows us. There is a Helper that God has given each of His children that we too often forget about. Once we have decided to partake in the gift of salvation and our lives become sanctified into His, we no longer have the right tosay, “God, I am called to this. God, I am called to that” for our life is no longer our own. I told God, for years, I will not stay in Tallahassee, I refuse to stay here. My prayers became selfish and prideful. “God, I will not do what you have called me to do in my life. I got burned, I got hurt and it sucked. If that is how it is going to be, then I quit.” But something has been ingrained in me, my heart and spirit, for a long time that I cannot ignore, no matter how hard I try. I cannot sit on the sidelines, even if I think I want to.
About a month after I told God to put me on the injured reserved list, I got a call. I got THE call. The church wanted me on staff and I said yes. YES?! Laura Jean Colle the First, what where you thinking?! I had a mild panic attack and then it hit me—God was going to get me where He wanted me whether I liked it or not. So I did it. I figured, “Eh, a year, year and half at the most, then I am high-tailing it outta this place,” —still holding on to my plan. And, believe me, I tried to leave. My constant prayer was, “Lord, give me direction.” But really, what I was praying was “Lord, show me the best way to get out of here.” I had fooled myself into thinking that I was being humble and open to the Lord. Yeah. Right.
So, as I approached my third year of working at the church, living on my own and making car payments, the frustration started to build as God was not answering my prayers. Then, one day, I realized, maybe I should stop praying for direction and pray for contentment.
Popular verses and scripture are popular for a reason—they are true.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.”
Oh, but what follows is the gut wrencher:
“For the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7
“Be anxious for nothing”—but that is what I do; It’s what I have always done. I see the next step coming and so, therefore, I know what is next. Graduate high school, go to Bible college, come home, back to school, come home, go to Israel, come home, go back to school, come home, go to Italy, come home…
Come home… then what? I’m still here. But I am young, single and, realistically, nothing is holding me back from being the vagabond that I desire to be. To feed that restless spirit inside and let the itch that can’t seem to be scratched take over. To have adventures beyond what is here. Yet, I am still here. In the place where I refused to be, in the town that has made it hard to breathe sometimes and made me claustrophobic. However, just like a lot of things, it becomes better with time. I still have my doubts, my moments of needed escape, and my thoughts of “is this it, Lord?” I have to remind myself daily, “I’m only 22 years old, I still have a lot of life to live and, even if I am here another three years, that means I am only 25.” I am good, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I am content. In reality I am scared that this is it. But that, I have no control over. I only have control over how I deal with it, my attitude.
Deep down I know I am here for a reason and I need to live with that statement crafted into my heart. I am here to learn, to grow, to stretch and to see what is, ultimately next.
Lord stop me if my fingerprints are on anything.