I am a lover of to-do lists, of busyness, of full calendars.
I’m a firm believer in the adage, “God helps those who help themselves.” I tend to discount the need for “down time.”
So, when the longing for a spouse and a family filled my soul, you better believe that I was owning the Tinder and Bumble worlds like it was nobody’s business.
In a city of 2.7 million, surely I would find the right person if I went on enough dates.
This was my prayer, my plea, my can-do attitude when the grind of dating would start wearing on me and despair would begin to set in. For all I knew, the man I was looking for was just on the other side of a swipe.
Thus, you can imagine my hesitancy when an out-of-the-blue job offer proposed I take a job in a city with 2.6 million fewer people, far less variety, far fewer restaurants and friends — and not a single rooftop bar.
The voice inside my heart was urging me to give this new opportunity a chance, but I loved my current job, my current bustling big city, my current life. And moving to small town America? More than anything, I was terrified that I would be single for life.
I had always said I was “open to life,” open to God’s will — but taking this leap of faith in my career meant I was also surrendering my well laid out, albeit not-that-successful, plans for my dating life.
Yet, this new job seemed to be where I was called to make a difference. This school and its leadership seemed to have a unique focus that I needed to explore.
One question kept me pondering: Could following my heart on a job opportunity lead to doing God’s will and therefore lead to personal happiness?
Surely, God knew the longings of my heart. Surely, He would not be leading me astray.
With a sometimes forced smile and barely concealed tears, I said goodbye to my former students and former life and greeted my new colleagues and new students. I begged everyone I met to be my friend.
And in this moment of complete surrender, God was able to work. One of those early friends soon became someone to whom I felt a pull, much like a moth to light. Free of the distractions of my big-city former life and more intentional in my interactions, I marveled when that friendship turned into a romance, that romance into a relationship, and that relationship into an engagement.
In a city where I see someone I know every time I leave my house, I could no longer hide behind a veil of anonymity and had to be authentically myself at all times. Finding a rich faith community, I was challenged to grow closer to God. And in this city with far fewer “fish in the sea,” I found the most generous, faith-filled, loving man I could have ever hoped to find.
God’s call is not always so instantly gratifying, I am well aware. God’s timeline in this matter of the heart was light-years slower than the timeline I had outlined when I mapped out my life.
Yet, in my surrender to try to follow God’s will — which at the time seemed paradoxical, confusing, and counterintuitive — only then was I able to find the peace and love that I had tried so diligently to find on my own.
Annie and Paul were married in the summer of 2018. Listen to the audio below to get a sneak peek of the celebrant’s homily: