Since the beginning, some of my most obedient steps (not all, but most) have been to stay put.
Off hand, that feels boring and like a cop out. Maybe staying even feels like disobedience because we always talk about following God into the unknown.
Trust me, I know.
But we don’t always talk about following Him here. Right where we are with backyards begging and kitchen floors waiting for conversation.
And that’s the hard part. That’s the part I’ve never loved immediately when I’ve received the delivered news. I’ve always dreamt of the new and exciting. I’ve thought of the ways I could creatively back out of commitments or make up excuses. I’ve looked for opportunities to run away and make life “simpler” and “easier” and ended up realizing most of what I struggle with is going to follow me. I’ve prayed for God’s “will” even though it was my own self constructed list of wants, and I think on occasion I nearly prayed myself out of God’s will for my life. Or at least it felt like that.
Because in some moments it felt like I was on the brink of abandoning ship on something truly amazing, that can only happen with trust built on time.
Time builds trust.
Something truly amazing that can only happen when we are willing to lean in and ask questions and keep showing up.
I’ve learned the difference between saying “no” for a better “yes” and just quitting because something is too difficult.
too much time.
not enough depth.
not engaging enough.
not good enough for it to be worth staying.
but what if we are wrong? what if we are asking to be excused from the table too early, from the very thing that God wants to root deeply within us and our community that could be life changing and helping heaven?
Now, I know everyone’s calling is different. Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is leave, and sometimes the most difficult thing to do is stay, and either way, whatever the call is (even if it’s hard or feels more simple or is moderately in the middle)
we know that where God is leading us is where we need to go.
The key is obedience.
But as I’ve thought about this, as I’ve watched friends move and change and take different opportunities I’ve prayed about my own placement and the answer from God has been the same thus far. He has called ME to stay.
He has called me to plant roots and be available 20 minutes in every direction.
He has called me to spend Saturday mornings with my family who don’t yet believe in His saving love, hope and redemptive character.
He has called me to walk with young girls as long as four years and counting. And I want to be there. I want to be at their basketball games and plays and graduations. I want to be one of the first people they call with exciting news. I want to be someone who loves them so much that when they hurt, my heart is feeling empathetic pain.
He has called me to take new roles in an organization and stay through transition and time and change and adversity. He has called me to power through in seasons where I thought it would be easier to leave, where it felt like too much, where I believed the lie that I might be a better leader if I wasn’t in the role, on the team or with the title.
For me, that wasn’t true, and God branded that into my heart.
He called me to cut my bitterness at the root and begin believing again that I am made for this. Maybe someday I will be made for something else. However, through staying I can see now that opting out when it would have seemed opportune would have only reminded me of how much I am missing out on. Of how much He was trying to do in and through me. Of relationships that were built and tested and strengthened through going through stuff together and bonding around the option of not giving up.
No matter how many times I would try to convince myself otherwise, staying was my act of obedience, the promise He provided that He would redeem and restore and renew. As I prayed, I heard God whisper the same thing that He’s whispered to me time and time again… “Just hold on, it will all be worth it.”
And that promise has never failed.
It has never been more true.
The thing that God has asked me to have the most obedience to, the thing that He is the most clear about, has been the thing that has reaped the most harvest. Staying has been the most redemptive process because when I have chosen to believe God and press in, when it’s easier and more convenient to press out, I have been given me the sweetest moments of renewal for my heart and seen His character at work.
Even on the hardest days, I’ve still been able to praise Him.
When I’ve chosen to fight for face to face instead of text massage or e-mails I’ve been more forgiving, more gracious, more patient and understanding.
When I’ve chosen to believe the best, over and over and over,
I’ve become more loyal and in turn seen His loyalty to His children.
When I’ve continued to invite people to come and see, the answer has changed from “no, I don’t think so” to “maybe” to “sure”. I will praise God for a “maybe” or a “sure”!!
Seeds are being planted, and what a shame if we stopped sewing too early.
When I’ve looked around the room at people who are different than me, who all continue to show up, I thank God for the best community that has only come from pressing in, showing up, and saying “yes”.
When I think about the relationships I have, I think about what they’ve endured and how much more gritty and resilient they are. I think about the relational currency that comes with consistency and continuing. I think about how sweet they are built on time and how much more emotional I become when I see and feel and experience the way God shows up in their lives too.
Yet the last thing that staying has been is comfortable.
Staying has been the most challenging, sharpening, and uncomfortable thing.
I have left before, and that has also been a fruitful season, but in a different way.
It has been temporary, and the thing I had to learn the most about is how to return.
We always return.
We, at some point, realize what God is doing, where He wants us, and He always guides us home.
He made us for relationships and He tells us to sew the seeds, not to just check the box and wipe our hands clean.
As I’ve stayed and sat in discomfort and itching for the other option, as I’ve leaned into God’s faithful promises, I’ve come to a conclusion.
At the end of this season, at the end of my twenties or whatever the next mile marker is, and then at the end of my life, I want to be able to say that I didn’t give up.
I want people to say that I was beyond broken for what God was broken for and that I actually did something about it, and that I finished my assignment.
I don’t just want to start it.
I want to be able to say that I gave my life to something, to Kingdom work, and I believe that God will be pleased with that.
So, I began running a race that would cost me a lifetime.
I committed to giving my life away for the sake of the one, because I was one.
I can’t imagine a life more satisfying or gratifying than that.