I felt bad for drunkenly admitting to a friend that I wasn’t sure if God really had a plan for my life as we walked the shores of Folly Beach. I wondered if the waves had heard me too, debating on their purpose, and why the moon kept pulling them back and forth, but it was that same conversation that led me in over my head.
My friend, the PR machine suggested I zone in on one place and put all my focus into getting there. After all she had tackled Dallas right after college.
This stuck with me, more than the awful first Airbnb experience we shared. The one where we were thankfully reimbursed, and I given a hundred dollar voucher to let them make it up to me on a second date. Little did I know that courtship was coming soon.
I knew the talk amongst the Atlantic would make its way back to my Creator, and he’d descend from the heavens to meet me on the highway home. The time for indulging in dessert bars was over. By the way, please indulge in dessert bars while in Charleston, or anywhere for that matter. We actually need to invest in more of these before the Apocalypse.
I hear Him between the lyrical notes of worship music most. He agreed with my friend, that I needed to focus on a place so he picked it for me. Atlanta. He knew I needed a passion to carry me there so he gave me that one too. HIV/AIDS.
Uhm, probably not what I would have picked.
I was going to need confirmation.
So he gave it to me, over and over, and over again. Suddenly, it was as if everything pointed to Atlanta. The book I just started was written by an author in Atlanta. Thank you Rachel Allen and Heather Lindsey. The nonprofit I recently got on board with was based in Atlanta. Thank you TWMLL. An admired author, Hannah Brencher, had just posted a blog about the time God called her to Atlanta (Thank you Allie Siroky for making sure I didn’t miss that one). HIV/AIDS was on the rise in Atlanta. That doesn’t get a thank you, but you get the gist.
There were two other people in Atlanta. Both whom I had met in Washington D.C. back in July. Amena Brown, a spoken word poet, who I had the pleasure of meeting at an IF dinner (Thank you Jennie Allen) during a Fill The Mall campaign where Jesus changed everything (Thank you Together 2016 and my friend Jenny Bell for inviting me) and a Georgia House Representative “Able” Mable Thomas who didn’t get to attend the dinner but made sure, me, a mere stranger gave her every missed detail. This is important.
Also, can we talk for a second about how when she refers to the Holy Spirt she says, “So then Spirit said…” I just love that and will proceed to use from now on.
So I’m falling in love with Amena and doing typical fan girl stuff online, following her on socials and such. I find out she will be live recording her next spoken word album from a venue in Decatur, GA. By the way, that is pronounced Duh-Cater not Deck-a-door as I previously thought. Atlanta is only 5 hours away. So spirit says, “Go to the live recording and use your Airbnb voucher to stay the night.”
That was about a month ago. I just got back from Atlanta, GA last night. I got to take a friend with me. Her name is Keisha, and the trip made her cry, in the good way. Do you know how it feels for someone to listen to you talk crazily about what spirit told you to do, and then when you’re finished they tell you they want to come too? It feels like maybe you’re not trapped in a cult that your mind tricked you into. And that if you are, at least one other person is brainwashed with you. That’s a good feeling in case you were wondering.
Again, I want to thank Jenny Bell for teaching me how to pray over a trip on the way down, and then pray about the trip outcome on the way back. This a tradition I carried into the car for Atlanta. But before I was strong enough to pray that prayer with Keisha in the passenger seat, I recalled the anxiety attack the night before.
Spirit said to go to the live recording. God ordained it with the free Airbnb, but they kind of forgot to tell me the plan. We’re funny humans. We plan, but God commands. So in the process of trusting him with my obedience I sent an email pouring out all the feels to firstname.lastname@example.org If anything it just felt good to make some of that anxiety sleep on the couch that night.
Well after the pre-trip prayer, I got an email back from team HB. It was from Claire, a Missouri tiger like me, specifically. Thank you Claire. Thank you for being touched enough to correspond cheering me on. The trip couldn’t have had a better start than getting to read your sheltering email.
I picked out an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner upon arrival inviting “Able” Mable. She gladly joined surprising me with her friend, Rev. Dr. Lalita Smith, who I also had the pleasure of meeting in back in D.C. Lalita was there to support the representative in receiving an award long overdue. I was in the presence of three queens sipping on a wine called ‘Sheba’. AND this time I got to hear the story about how Mable Thomas got the name “Able” Mable (which is practically her government name now and can be found on her business card).
Keisha and I headed to Decatur to see #AmenaLive and Mrs. Brown Owen was nothing short of amazing. I knew if I could just touch the hem of her garment…
Okay no (lol), but I knew I had to speak with her after. Back in D.C. Amena shared her own story of obedience on the dinner panel. I reminded her of this when we did get to chat after merch purchase, and her words back to me offstage will resonate more with me than any she could ever speak on stage.
Spirit was showing me the weave of connections I already had here. People who said “C’mon this will be peachy” (pun intended), more members of my cult so to speak.
I went to bed that night a little anxious. What I have not yet shared with you is that I had already applied to five jobs here in the Southern NYC and sent three hand typed follow up letters in hopes for informal interviews while I on a whim was in town. I didn’t tell them the whole spirit/cult story I’m telling you of course. But I wondered, would they call, should I go to them, what’s the plan?
I awoke with the command to just meditate with worship music, particularly Bethel (Thank you Jenn Johnson), and despite my sinful and sabotaging nature, boy did spirit speak. As if he was using the lyrics to spell it out to me my Savior said this:
“I know you are standing knee deep out where you’ve never been. Your heart has moved further and further away from the shore, and now I have it. You’ve lost control, but now you are free. In your obedience, this is where I want you to be, in over your head. I am proud of you. This was all I ever wanted from you. This was all that was ever required of you, and you did it. Do nothing else, for I have done what needs to be done. I have not missed a thing, but have set everything into motion. You may return now enjoying this day, and remember there’s no place you can go that my love can’t find you.”
I wondered what all my days would be like if I started them off by asking God to come do whatever he wanted to. I relished in the fact that there I was, sobbing on the couch with my headphones in, while Keisha readied for the day letting me have this moment.
We got to have Caribou coffee (this is a necessary detail because the closest Caribou to me is nearly two hours away), and I shared with my friend the message I have just shared with you. That’s how Keisha came to cry the good tears I told you about.
She explained what it was like watching this play out so delicately for me, and I want to watch that for her and for everyone really.
God is a hopeless romantic. When he wants our attention he sets the mood. Well, he got my attention, and yes there will be a second date and many dates thereafter with hopefully a lot less overanalyzing.
I can’t forget the cherry on the Monday either. We prayed the post trip prayer, and, you know what happened immediately after? One of the HR departments from one of those three jobs called me to tell me how lovely my letter was. That the job I applied for was still open, and how the hiring process would work. She encouraged me to apply for multiple jobs as the timelines differed across the board. She told me how to carefully cater my application to each, and then she said the darndest thing,
“Welcome to Atlanta, we hope to see you here soon.”