I found out over the weekend that I was not selected as a Fulbright finalist.
It was hard to hear. It was disappointing. I was sad. (I was really sad.) I ate an entire batch of double chocolate chip cookies. (Because emotional eating is always a reasonable response.) I went to a crafting party and drank too much sangria. (Which is pretty much the tamest bender ever and resulted in some really awesome Valentines.)
Now it’s Monday. Welcome back to real life.
I’ve reached another point where I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go next. Living and working abroad has been my dream since I was 8 years old, and I have worried and fretted and planned to make it happen. I’ve thought and schemed and networked and prayed and done my best to prepare, personally and professionally, to follow God’s call for my life, but at this point it seems so out of reach. I’m not sure how the dots connect. I’m not even sure what the ideal endpoint looks like. So I’ve made a decision. Right now, I’m done. I’m done trying to make it work. I’m done trying to figure it out. I’m done pushing and striving and crying into my pillow.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jonah lately. It’s one of those stories I’ve always been uncomfortable with. Much like real life, Jonah’s story is not straight forward. It doesn’t have a neat ending. In fact, I usually feel like God forgot to include the last chapter. He can’t really have intended to just leave us with the hero sulking under a dead shade tree. Right?
But despite this discomfort, I’ve found myself drawn back to the story in the last few weeks, and it’s been oddly comforting. The Bible makes it pretty clear that Jonah wanted nothing to do with God’s plan. When God said, “Go west, young man,” Jonah got on the first boat headed east. But God was determined that the people of Nineveh would hear his message, so Jonah ended up right back where God wanted him . . . on the shores of the very city he was trying to avoid.
So if God can take someone who is stubbornly resisting his plan and make sure they still end up in the right place at the right time, surely he can make sure that I get where I need to be, too.
Ultimately, the pressure of making God’s plan for my life work isn’t on me. That pressure is on God. I’m still going to finish school. I’m still going to work and pray and network. I’m still going to look for jobs. But I’m going to stop obsessing about finding the perfect job, as though I only have one, narrow window of opportunity in which to follow my destiny. I’m going to find a job that pays my bills and is moderately interesting. And if at some point God opens the door for me to go overseas, that’s great. I’ll be thrilled. But if the time isn’t now, that’s okay. If the time isn’t later, that’s okay, too. God’s in control. He’ll make sure I end up where I belong.