January 18, 2013
Today, precisely 817 days after walking for the first time into that intimidating, yet auspicious building which stands with self-importance on the corner of Wilshire and Barrington in Brentwood, CA, I walked out of the even more impressive Fox Tower here in Portland, OR for the last time as an employee of Moss Adams. For the last time as an accountant. For the last time as someone who had misplaced her dreams. And today, for the first time, I walked out of that building as someone on a mission to recover it.
In a bittersweet kind of way, this day will forever mark years of my life coming to a close; a long, expansive chapter all wrapped up and adorned with a nice, neat, shiny little bow. Okay, that’s a lie. There really isn’t anything tidy about this transition. It’s messy, and confusing, and peppered with anxiety. And yet, as I reflect back on those 817 days, a long and expansive chapter though it has been, there is no denying that it was a character building chapter. Sometimes, in literature and life alike, you need those long, enduring episodes. Generally, they are the ones that are the most painstainking to get through, the ones you read simply so you can get on to the good stuff. Yes, if you are any kind of seasoned reader at all, you know the kind: they’re the long, tedious ones usually near the beginning of a book that keep you flipping ahead just to see how many pages you have left to endure before you can finally turn out the lights and transition to much preferred sleep, not to mention more captivating content. They’re the chapters that are written because they’re necessary to lay the groundwork for the rest of the story. And they’re the chapters you read so you can gain context for what’s still to come. Consequently, they also happen to be the chapters that tend to shape and develop you the most, at least from a character standpoint. And this is precisely how I feel today, 817 days later; that’s a lot of pages…
I had a friend message me this morning to let me know she was excited for me and “impressed by [my] leap of faith.” I’ve been getting a lot of feedback like this lately as it turns out. And it’s incredibly humbling and encouraging and all the things I need to hear right now. But I find it so interesting that everyone seems to be able to see it… see the faith in it that is. The courage in it. Because to me, it felt something more like fear. It felt more like desperation than it did determined fortitude [if I’m being completely honest here]. But lately, I’m intruiged by this phrase, leap of faith, because what does it imply exactly? Perhaps in part, that you have no idea where you will land. Or how you will land even. Or how far you’ll have to fall before you land. And then, how many times and ways you’re going to have to learn how to walk again once you do.
I suppose what I’m saying is there is a distinct difference between using faith to leap from an already flimsy branch, and learning how to walk in that same faith once you’ve landed. One is propelled and fueled by adrenaline and a sense of urgency, while the latter comes softly. In the quiet. In the dependency. In the choosing. A leap is momentary, enabled by a sudden surge of reckless courage. Regardless of how much time is spent in the free fall, the actual plunge off the edge is but a mere moment. The landing though, well that is an entirely different sort of thing. It marks the beginning of a whole new season. And that is a much larger undertaking than any adrenaline-induced leap that may bring you to such a place. But no one ever talks about that part.
There’s a popular quote being pandered about the web, standing in as the credo for a number of tolerance-driven discussions and movements as of late. And while I prefer to refrain from cliché’s, it’s not difficult to understand why. It speaks something beautiful into the fear-burdened heart of man:
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” [attributed to French-born author Anaïs Nin].
There is something in this quote that speaks volumes to my own heart. Fear is a paralyzing thing. It burrows deep down in the hidden places of our being, sets up camp and then whispers lies which foster anxiety, eventually spawning paralyses. But this is exactly what fear desires, to keep us right where we are. To keep us from taking risks and branching out. To keep us from moving forward; from growing. And so we do an exhausting amount of work to protect our status-quo, and we remain in predictable waters [or tightly wound buds to keep with metaphor]. And if we’re not careful, what we’ll find is that slowly, so that we don’t notice, our dreams will begin to wither before they ever get the chance to bloom. I’m personally discovering how devastating this fate is for any man. But if we can quiet the fear for just a moment, and let go of what the world is insisting is the safe and proper way, we might just be able to remember what it is we longed to get out of this life in the first place. If we can find the courage to open ourselves up to all the possibilities that this great big, exciting world actually has to offer, we might just discover that the safe road is actually the most painful and compromising. The safe road can actually lead us to ruin.
Please do not misunderstand, this is not to say that there is not a time and purpose for each of these seasons. Certainly there is. And as I reflect back over the last 2-plus years, I thank God for each of those 817 days He led me through to bring me to this place. The blessings along the way were many and they were rich. The friendships deep. The lessons unrivaled. And as I reflect over those days, the ones I’m finally turning the page on, I realize now more than ever before that they were in fact doing their job: building the plot, developing the character. They were merely laying the foundation for all the bold and bountiful chapters before me still. And if I’m honest, this is something I still need reminding of daily, because in the minutiae of these seemingly never ending chapters, it’s really difficult to see the forest through the trees. So as I’m struggling to find my feet and regain my equilibrium, as I’m adjusting to life after the leap, what I find is that I’m having to choose faith every day. Choose every day to reject the lies and cling instead to the promises of my Maker. And every single day this is a challenge. And yet, every.single.day, new mercies wait for me, ready to meet me in my need, to fight on my behalf, to remind me that the story does not end with this chapter [see Lamentations 3:22-23].