It was supposed to be dinner, just a regular dinner like we always had. Our usual summit every week or so somewhere in between Fort Worth and Dallas since we lived a good hour apart.
Chips and salsa, loud music, maybe some sopapillas, and debriefing. There was much to discuss since we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks—Christmases, the latest plans for his new business venture, and the upcoming New Year’s Eve gathering, not to mention how God had been working in our lives.
He had always been hard to read, and even though I had known him for over ten years, I had to drag most emotions out of him. Unlike me, who felt everything so deeply and had a difficult time hiding anything, especially my emotions. So I never suspected tonight would be different, least of all that the forthcoming conversation would leave an indelible mark on my life.
“I was driving back to Texas the day after Christmas, praying about the next steps I’m supposed to take for my new business project, when the Lord revealed to me that you’re the missing link…”
I shoved another chip or two in. He always took longer than me to tell stories.
He proceeded to share all of the gifts I would bring to the company, ones that were diametrically opposite to the ones he brought to the table. He was a big picture guy, a visionary, an entrepreneur; I was a planner, detail-oriented and task-driven. He had an MBA; I had a background in English and ministry. It all fit together for the next step of this yet-to-be-revealed business plan.
And then there was the fact that we had been friends for so long and we were good at shooting straight with each other.
“So what are your thoughts? Do you think we could work together? Would you want to work for me, with me?”
Years of experience with these raging emotions of mine had taught me the disadvantages of wishful thinking. I needed numbers, percentages, concrete evidence that would tell me whether or not I should to try to patch the dam of tears that were forming.
But I also knew that he wasn’t a purveyor of hypotheticals like myself. He was an internal processor, and he didn’t just offer grand ideas unless he could back them up.
“Realistically, on a scale of 1 to 10, how serious are you about this offer?” I asked.
“I’m about a 9.5, JB. I’ll be a 10 with a little more prayer.”
He knew I had been suffocating in the suburbs for quite some time. After marrying off my latest roommate, I had purchased a house and figured it was time to settle down and fully engage this life that I had been semi-living.
I knew my calling wasn’t being fulfilled, though.
Granted, even after graduating from seminary, I still couldn’t define that calling, but whatever it was, over time I grew increasingly aware that it didn’t involve putting down roots in the form of homeownership.
But even more, I had been suffocating from a lack of faith.
I knew God could speak things into being and He could move mountains. I had prayed for it, read about it in Scripture, and seen it happen—in other people’s lives.
But in my own life? I knew I had been blessed beyond measure. I was fortunate to be teaching at a great school in a high-paying school district in the Great State of Texas. I was debt free, I had deep friendships, I went to a solid church, and I had a loving relationship with my family. Really, what more could I ask for?
So I didn’t.
Because asking for anything else seemed ungrateful. “He is more than enough,” I sang.
It didn’t matter that I was gifted in areas that were growing stagnant. Not everyone gets to do everything that they love, I told myself. You have health insurance; be thankful. Not every longing will be fulfilled, I told myself. My lack of a husband was a constant reminder of that.
All of those areas you get really passionate about? They’re too varied; there’s no career that involves writing, event planning, social media, college students, administration, travel, deepening relationships, meeting new people, teaching, missions, and social justice. You’re schizophrenic; pick one and thrive. The rest are just hobbies.
For the longest time I thought this part of my life was about the job, but it wasn’t. After all, it was difficult to not assume it was about a job when, within a year, I found myself working on projects that included all of the areas I was passionate about, as well as gifted in.
In hindsight, the job was just how God got my attention.
Every story has a beginning, an inciting incident. There are days when I wish this part of my story thrust into being because I was on my knees fervently seeking the Spirit instead of assuming that my God-breathed dreams were just indulgences that needed to be denied.
But then I remember how gently, how lovingly He jolted me from my stupor—how I never saw it coming at dinner that night and how God moved me through His favor instead of unspeakable pain.
I had become the Ye of Little Faith. For His glory and my joy, He showed me that following Him can be a glorious adventure—one that will still be wrought with difficulties and trials, but glorious nonetheless. He taught me that there were times when I deeply longed for something because He put that desire there for Kingdom purposes. Not all of my dreams were idols that needed to be put to death.
He invited me into a story that is so much bigger than any I could’ve ever written myself.
Today I’m sharing my story as a part of a synchroblog with the authors of the book, Inciting Incidents. (Thanks to my friend and one of the book’s authors, Tracee Persiko, for asking me to participate!) Check out other writers’ stories of their inciting incidents in the synchroblog, and join us and link to your own!
*Photo credit: fab4chiky