Finding Purpose

These people keep me young.

.

(I say that knowing I’m not much older than most of them. In fact, one of them, not including my husband, is older than me.)

Several months back (as expressed in this post), Edgar and I were feeling like we no longer belonged here in Plainview. We felt as if all our friends had graduated and moved on and there was nothing left for us here. We were just waiting on Edgar to graduate before we moved on into the next chapter in our lives. I spent more than a few evenings bemoaning that we no longer spent our evenings fostering any remnant of a social life. We also felt that since we are married now, and we have both been out of the dorms for about two years that we didn’t have much in common with those still around. We were lonely.

So we tossed around the idea of moving to Lubbock so Edgar could find a job. We (I) also tossed around the idea of culinary school. Basically, we tossed around the idea of a lot of things other than staying in Plainview.

But in May it came to me. I was inspired by a combination of things. First, my university minister was speaking about how we need to be of use to Christ; be active in the Body and use our gifts. Around the same time he was also stressing how over the past few years he has offered his hospitality, his resources, his ears over the years expecting nothing in return except that we would go on to share the same hospitality and love toward others. Through these two things, Edgar and I decided to:
1) start attending just one church (we had previously been attending Sunday school at the Baptist church, then leaving there and going to service at the Presbyterian church)
2) get involved in the church (Edgar now helps run the sound board for Sunday evening service at the Baptist church)
3)start offering a dinner every weekend for our friends with whom we were just getting to know past the point of casual acquaintanceship.

You see, while I was in college I would occasionally make a big meal and have people over. It wasn’t (usually) a formal or regularly-occurring affair, but I enjoyed cooking and serving others in that way. Food brought people together, especially when the only other option was the school cafeteria.

That first weekend of this new resolve to cook regularly for my friends was not well attended. One friend came, and later on in the evening his fiance showed up (she had been at work). It wasn’t big or particularly memorable, but I kept on going. I reminded myself that things like this took time. Friendships didn’t happen overnight, and even though that first evening felt a little disappointing, it still felt right.

Over the next few weeks more people showed up. The evenings were modest and people were usually gone by 11:00 PM. As time went by people started staying later, and we became more relaxed around each other.

At the end of July we were faced with a dilemma. We were required to give a 60 day notice to our landlord if we were planning to leave upon the expiration of our lease, and that notice was due in ONE WEEK. Edgar was still unemployed after 7 months of job-searching, and whether we moved was dependent upon the location of his job. So that Sunday I brought a prayer request to my Sunday school class. We just needed direction. We didn’t know whether to look for a new place to live, and if so, we had no idea where to look. Plainview? Lubbock? We needed to know quick.

The very next morning I received a call from my new university minister. She happens to also be the student housing director at Wayland. Apparently someone had just walked into her office saying that he had two houses available for rent and asked if he knew anyone who needed one. She immediately thought of us and gave me a call. Two hours later Edgar and I looked at the house. It had everything we needed. Space, a functional kitchen, a dining room fit for entertaining, three bedrooms, a yard, a fireplace, plenty of parking, close to campus (an 8 minute walk to my office!) and no walls shared with other tenants. Edgar left there convinced that this was the house we were meant to have. I was still afraid because we couldn’t afford it if Edgar didn’t have a job, and we still needed to know that week! (Also, I’ll note that the landlord was only going to be in town for that week before going back to his home in Denver)

That night we prayed about it. We discussed it with each other. Staying in Plainview meant fewer job opportunities for Edgar. Staying in Plainview could mean that he COULDN’T get a job. But then we thought about all that had happened over the summer. We had followed God’s direction earlier in the summer to further our involvement in our church and also to host weekend dinners for our new friends. My original plans for these dinners was that it would last through the summer, and I would decide later whether or not we could continue at the same pace during the fall. Neither of us felt like we were finished. There was still more for us to do in our church and in our relationships. Moving to Lubbock seemed less and less like the wise thing to do.

The next day we paid a deposit on the house. A leap of faith considering we couldn’t afford it on just my salary.

Then, the very next Monday, Edgar received a call for an interview. He’d been job searching for 7 months and this was the first time anyone called him for an interview. He had been bugging this particular employer for weeks, and they were finally hiring seasonal workers. Impressed by his dedication in applying there, he was hired on the spot during his interview two days later. He was the very first seasonal worker to be hired, and therefore he is the highest paid. God answered our prayers. He directed us to stay in Plainview, we believed and obeyed, and then He provided the way. And when the corn harvest is over and the seasonal workers are laid off, Edgar and I have full confidence that God will provide the means necessary to continue living there as long as He desires. Why?
Because on Friday I received a call from one of our friends asking us if we needed help moving for the third weekend in a row.

Because on Saturday night several of us stayed up until 4AM talking and sharing stories.

Because on Sunday a friend voluntarily joined us for lunch.
And that night another friend invited us to share in his birthday celebration.

Because on Monday we all randomly bumped into each other and somehow ended the night tailgating in the Tractor Supply parking lot.

Because last night when we needed help moving bulky furniture, and then our dryer stopped working, and Edgar was having a bad day, we had company. And upon sharing our story of how we originally thought of moving to Lubbock, one friend told us that he was glad we decided to stay.

For the past few weeks I have experienced all these assurances and boundless more that further enforce the conclusion that we made the right decision.

Many would say that choosing to live somewhere based on a social life and ignoring employment potential or financial security would be irresponsible. And I admit, it goes entirely against conventional wisdom. I knew that both Hardin-Simmons and Dallas Baptist would both give me a better art education than I would receive at Wayland, but ultimately I didn’t belong at HSU or DBU. Every small school touts that the limited enrollment created a family-like atmosphere, but Wayland was the only place that felt like my family. I knew that this was where God wanted me, and since God always wants the best for me, the experiences I have had a result are the very best I could have achieved. I had the same experience upon graduation. I was faced with the choice of going home and living with my family until I could find a job and avoid going into debt, or staying in Plainview hoping to find a job and definitely going into debt in the process. I stayed in Plainview because I felt I needed to be where my relationships were. Two weeks after I moved into my first apartment my boyfriend proposed. Three months later I was hired at Wayland, and as a result I got involved in Wayland’s corporate wellness program, I got healthy and I started this blog. I am writing this post because I chose to live by faith and love rather than conventional wisdom.

It’s the message my former university minister was trying to share with us all along. Love in an investment. I chose to follow God, put away my fears, and act in love by serving others with my passions in the kitchen. I’ve spent the last few months cooking for others and over the past few weeks it has become more and more apparent that more than just our stomachs were fed. I said in my previous post that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is significantly more profound than we think, and I know this because of this past summer.
In the spring we were old, alone, and empty.
And now we are immensely blessed with wonderful friends. We feel like we belong, and we are young again.

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