Happy New Year?
“I look at 2022 and I see a black hole.”
“There’s not much else that I want right now, and I hesitate to make plans or even to have big desires because 1) it takes energy to have and maintain big desires and 2) it’s really hard when they aren’t met, and with my health right now I think I won’t be able to accomplish any big desire, and I don’t want the pain of broken desires.”
That’s what I wrote in my journal on January 1. There were some “big” things I wrote down that I’d love to see happen in the new year, along with the endless little things that could fill a thousand years. But the biggest concrete thing I could think to look forward to was a tentative summer vacation with a friend.
I’d been feeling so crummy, had so many dreams squashed–so many desires themselves dried out and crumbled to dust–that I didn’t have it in me to hope. To dream. To plan.
Even if I had the mental and physical capacity to make plans, part of me–a lot of me–didn’t want to. After so many disappointments, along with the endless difficulties of daily life, I didn’t have much room for hope. I didn’t see any way out of the darkness I was in. No color in the bleak portrait that was my life, or at least my soul.
My goal for 2022? Guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing–put my head down and keep forcing one foot in front of another until something changes.
But I didn’t see any change ahead.
The Phone Call
Three weeks later, I got a text from my cousin Erin: “Hey! Question for you, it’s kinda random but do you have time for a phone call today?”
The chances to catch up with one of my lifelong best friends were always too few and far between, and I had no plans for the day, so I wrote back “Yes!”
A few hours later, my phone rang, and Erin informed me she was moving to Colorado. She’d finished law school in Virginia the previous May, had gone home to Connecticut, and was currently on another visit with her brother and his family in northern Colorado.
“I really like it here,” she said. “I think it’s where I want to settle down.”
“That’s awesome!” I told her. “I see you doing really well there. I’m super excited for you!”
Never in a million years could I have expected what she said next: “So, random question for you. Would you ever consider living in Colorado?”
I immediately knew what she was thinking, and in that same nanosecond a hundred reasons why I loved Colorado and would love Colorado flashed through my mind.
Colorado of my best friend and co-administrator Emily and her family-like family. Colorado of my other cousins and their sweet family. Colorado of cowboy boots and pickup trucks. Colorado of many medical practitioners who might be able to help me. Colorado of big sky, clean air, and the incredible Rocky Mountains. Colorado with my cousin and lifelong best friend.
In fact, the last time I visited Emily in 2020, I distinctly remember telling her how I could see myself living there someday. Of course, the possibility wasn’t remotely on my radar then, but the memory affirmed that I could–and would–consider living in Colorado.
That night at the dinner table, I raised the topic with my parents. “So, Erin called and said she’s moving to Colorado, and she wants to know if I want to move with her.” And I laid out the ideas Erin and I had discussed of sharing an apartment not far from both her brother and my friends.
There was surprise (and lots of questions), but there was also excitement and a pledge of support no matter what I decided. Near the end of the conversation, my mom started to tear up: “Just this morning I was praying that God would give you some kind of hope in your situation.”
Hope. I hadn’t dared to hope, hadn’t thought to pray for it. Had kind of given up on it. But here my mom had interceded for me and asked for the very thing I needed most, whether I knew it or not.
Even if the move never panned out, I knew that the tangible hope God had given me–a concrete possibility I could look forward to, something positive I could think about, a potential way out of my current darkness–was answer enough.
One, Two, Three, Four . . .
As soon as Erin and I finished talking I started praying. While the idea of moving with her was way exciting (so exciting I couldn’t sleep for the next two weeks), it would also be a MASSIVE step of faith, considering my current circumstances of health and finances that made a cross-country move difficult if not humanly impossible.
But there were too many things lining up already to make me doubt that this opportunity was dropped into my lap out of Heaven itself. And I knew that if the opportunity came from God, He was going to make it happen.
Still, I asked Him for confirmation, for guidance, for wisdom, for faith.
“My health is a big obstacle, but there is nothing impossible for You,” I prayed-wrote in my journal that night. “I ask that we would move forward with wisdom and faith and that You would continue to open the doors for me if you want me to go.”
And God answered. One, two, three, four times and more, too many times to count, too many ways to let me doubt that He was doing something big in my life.
Erin called me on Monday. Tuesday night I read Psalm 71:
For You are my hope, O LORD God;vs. 5
You are my trust [in Spanish “my security”] from my youth.
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,vs. 20
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
Wednesday morning I read Philippians 4:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.vs. 6
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.vs. 13
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.vs. 15
That evening, our church Bible study covered the victory God gave Joshua over the humanly impossible odds of the five-king Canaanite alliance (Joshua 10).
“You’re encouraging my faith,” I journaled afterward, “telling me not to worry about anything, and reminding me that You are the God who does the impossible. Jeremiah 32:27, ‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?'”
“[Saturday] morning I read II Thessalonians 1:11, ‘Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power’ (Heb 13:21) and I Thessalonians 5:24, ‘He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it’ (Ro 4:20-21). If You’re calling us, You’re going to do it (Is 38:15).”
Tuesday night I read Psalm 77:14, “You are the God who does wonders.” Thursday night I read Psalm 78 and later wrote, “If God can make it rain birds and snow bread, He can provide for me when I move to Colorado.”
Monday morning I read Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith, and that night I read Psalm 81:1, “Sing aloud to God our strength” (emphasis added) and 10, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
How could I hesitate to step forward when God’s Word was clearly nudging me, lighting my path, renewing His promises to my waiting heart?
I didn’t tell many friends or family about the potential move yet, but I did share the idea with a few trusted friends and mentor figures. Everyone said the same thing: “What an amazing opportunity! If you’re going to uproot your life and move, now is the time to do it while you’re young and single. Go spread your wings!”
No one said anything discouraging to me, raised any doubts, or suggested I reconsider. The message from my wise friends was the same: Go.
From that first week, what we might consider “coincidences” were only reinforcements that yes, this idea was from God, He wanted me to go, and He was putting the pieces into place.
- First Erin, then Emily’s sister, then Emily herself–separately, without knowing about the others–all told me about a local Spanish church that was thriving. “I thought of you when I heard about it,” each one said. “You would flourish here!”
- Erin’s sister-in-law told me about a nearby doctor in the line of practice I’ve been wanting–and praying–to try. I texted Erin, “Seriously, I know it’s no guarantee, but the idea itself–I could cry.”
- The doctor I was going to at the time had only good things to say about Colorado: the air is cleaner, and there’s more alternative medicine than on the East Coast. “If the move itself doesn’t help you,” he said, “you should be able to find someone who can.”
- A friend of a friend mentioned a part-time job potential that matched my skills and desires.
The possibilities gave me hope so beautiful, so buoyant I barely dared hold it in my hands. What opportunities would the Spanish church give a girl who loves the language, loves the people, and loves to serve? Was God aligning my experiences with the needs of this job opportunity? Could He really be moving me halfway across the country so I would–maybe, eventually, finally–find healing?
I felt like Riley at the end of National Treasure when he and the others are standing at the entrance to the enormous treasure room.
“Riley, are you crying?” Abigail asks.
“Look,” Riley replies with the telltale sheen of tears in his eyes. “Stairs.”
He sees the stairs not just for what they are but for what they represent: a way out of the dark underground, a way back to life, a way to freedom.
I was standing in Riley’s place, and God was inviting me to come up the stairs.
“Where there’s life there’s hope,” the saying goes.
But I was finding that the converse is also true: where there’s hope there’s life.