“Leaving Behind What We Think We Want”

Read this reflective narrative about following God's plan by listening to the nudges toward grace.

The 30-foot windows that encased the rooftop restaurant of a fancy downtown Los Angeles building gave me the ability to see for miles. It was the summer of my junior year in college, and I had landed an internship at Fox Sports. The 2009 Lakers won the championship that year, so the company arranged a rooftop viewing party of the parade for the hometown victors. The atmosphere was celebratory, professional, and posh — everything I dreamed parties like this would be like.

It might have been the sweeping views of the LA skyline or simply a break from my mundane internship duties, but something allowed me to experience some inner silence that allowed my mind to rest and my heart to speak. As I looked out at the city, with the excitement of the celebration still swirling around me, I found my heart wandering. Could it be possible that the work I dreamed of doing since I was a kid was the wrong fit?

The truth that came to the surface as I let the question ruminating in my mind make my hands cold and my beer warm. I snapped back into the cheery atmosphere of the party, chalking up my experience to a moment of overthinking.

As the weeks went on, the question that came to me at the restaurant continued to surface. Here I was, at one of the top television markets in the country, working at a great internship, yet I was questioning it all. It was not that the work was inherently bad — in fact, it was exciting and challenging. Yet, there was an undeniable feeling that this might not be where I was being called.

I was so obsessed with the idea of being a television personality that I inadvertently ignored the courageous questions in my heart that were firing off like distress signals calling for my attention. What happens when your gifts and talents match a job, but your heart and passion just don’t want to cooperate?

I shared my frustration with one of my spiritual mentors: “Why do I have to feel this? Can’t I just be normal like everyone else and not question everything?” He kindly chuckled, leaned in, and gently said, “Why are you running away from the very thing you long for?”

It has been more than a decade since I lived this significant moment in my career. In the last few years, I have built enough courage not to follow my initial instincts and run away from the questions of the heart. I can now recognize the sneaky feeling I had at the rooftop restaurant as a nudge toward grace. These nudges are not the same as the feelings that accompany cold feet or mediocrity. Rather, they are invitations to be available to what love was beckoning me to become.

Following the nudges toward grace is one of the most vulnerable choices I have made. It required me to suspend my preconceived notions of what I thought I wanted in the hope I’ll discover something more honest, loving, and true. Trusting that a hunch, a tug of the heart, or a deeper longing can be more than mere inconvenience is risky, but hidden within these movements is the capacity to point me toward something deeply authentic. What follows might be messy, but it’s true. Uncomfortable, yet inescapable. Risky, while also undeniably freeing.  Such is the nature of sacred things.

I continue to be a student of these nudges toward grace. It’s not easy to seek what glimpses of grace I might be able to catch, and then hold what comes to the surface with open tenderness.  When fear takes hold, it helps now and then to take a view from the top, to let the big picture expand the narrow scope of vision it takes to get through my day-to-day life and see from a different perspective. From this place I have been surprised to find that what I have been seeking has been seeking me the whole time.

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