From the view of a 20-something dream chaser.

A Single Year

Monday, July 25, 2016

A lot can happen in a single year. Last summer, I attended the Legacy Conference for the first time. It changed my life in more ways than one. I stepped outside my comfort zone and traveled to the conference alone, praying and believing I would make new friends. I did! I met some incredible people from across the country that I now call family.

It was at the end of Legacy that I felt called to a year of singleness. I kissed dating goodbye. (I actually read that book--it's pretty good and brings a lot into perspective.) Today marks a year since I made that decision. I'm still on a spiritual high from my second Legacy Conference and can’t help but reflect on my growth this past year.

This time last year was a very uncomfortable season. My main friend group was shifting, I hated my job and I felt I had outgrown my church. There are very few times in my life that I've felt lost, but this was one of them. I knew there had to be more. Little did I know that God would do exceedingly abundantly above all I could ask or imagine when I was obedient to His leading.

I should point out that I wasn't actually dating when I felt called to singleness. In fact, I had little to no prospects and had been on exactly one “date” that year. Still, my mind wasn't right. I was obsessing over marriage like you wouldn't believe, consumed with when it would happen and with whom. I believe this year was what I needed to be set apart.

As oxymoronic as it may sound, this has been the best and worst season of my life. I have felt empowered, called and equipped, but sometimes also inadequate, unqualified, like a failure and not sure that I belong. I discovered that I wasn’t meant for that big agency job in Corporate America, and became a freelance writer. I came to terms with my irresponsibility. I got a glimpse of the impact I could make for the Kingdom if I was intentional about following God. I truly began to walk in my purpose. And I have never felt as full as I do now.

While at the conference, I also prayed that God would send me young women to pour into. Boy, has He been faithful! My sister-in-Christ count is now flourishing. I’m surrounded by incredible women to pour into and who pour into me. One of my closest friends revealed to me that she personally benefitted from my single year because I was there to help her navigate ending a long-term relationship by being an ear to listen and a voice of reason. On more than one occasion, she's told me she follows my lead when making life choices. I'm amazed that God would use little old me.

Katherine (pictured right) is the greeter who welcomed me that first night!
Most important to me is that I walked into what I believe is the best season yet of my life. After praying for months about a new church home, I stumbled upon it. It had otherwise been a nice, but not extraordinary Sunday. My college roommate was in town because my now roommates and I had hosted a Friendsgiving potluck the night before. After riding the train with her downtown to her bus, I rode back up and took the long way home. I was two blocks from my apartment when a friendly face caught my attention. I typically don't stop to talk to strangers at night because...New York City...but for some reason, I did this time. I was listening to a song called “I'm Yours” pretty loudly in my headphones so all I remember her saying was “church,” “young adults” and “pizza.” I couldn't argue with any of that so I decided to walk in.

At once, I felt welcomed. It was as if every single servant leader was intent on meeting and getting to know me. My now Pastor Taylor got up to speak and he shared the heart of the church. It was a church that hadn't even launched yet. The lead pastors, a married couple, had gotten married and moved to New York City from Florida to launch a church all in the span of a few months. They had spent the better part of 2015 building a team. They needed people like me to commit to building a new church and community in Harlem. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” I remember him quoting.

He then began to share part of his own testimony and referenced Matthew 25:35-40. Verse 40 says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” This particular verse had been on my heart for more than a week. I had even posted it twice on social media but I wasn't quite sure why it resonated so deeply. Until then. There in a folding chair in a building that was being transformed from a nightclub into a house of worship, I began to witness God answer prayers like no other. I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

There were four specific things I had been praying for and each was answered:

  • - Proximity - I had been attending a church in Brooklyn that I loved but I wanted something closer. As you read, my church is now just two blocks from my home.
  • - Young adults - I desperately wanted to be in a place where young adults were on fire for Jesus. Our church is primarily 20-30 somethings, including our pastors. It 's lit. 
  • - Size - After attending pretty large churches, I wanted a church small enough that my pastor would know my name and we could do life together. Just last night, we enjoyed what we call family dinner at their home. 
  • - Impact - I wanted to be in a place where I could get plugged in and leave my mark. I never imagined it would be at a church plant. The concept of planting a church had never even occurred to me. I guess I figured churches always just were. 

Since we're so small, since I no longer work a 9-5 and since my pastors must have crazy faith in me, I get to have my hands in a lot. I went from sitting in an interest meeting back in November to being a part of the worship team, writing our blog, leading our #HEARTFORHARLEM Summer Saturdays team in engaging with the youth of our community, and now leading the media team. And honestly, so much more. Eight months after being on the right sidewalk at the right time, Trinity Harlem is one of my favorite places on earth. And it was right under my nose for so many months!

When I think of what I get to be a part of: seeing people come to Christ each Sunday, watching as the Holy Spirit transforms entire lives (mine included), hearing testimonies like an answered prayer for a homeless member, sidewalk baptisms in a huge pool, young men from the projects declaring they want to live for Jesus and not kiss until marriage...I'm just in awe. I want you to know that it's not because of the work we do, but because of who is at work in us. We simply had to activate the power to be used. And what a privilege it is to be used by God!

I'm a firm believer in creating space. We often live life so cluttered. Sometimes we crowd our lives with people and junk and ideas that make it hard for us to hear from God. We don't have the clarity we otherwise could. Periodically (but not nearly as often as I should), I clean out my closet and drawers to create space for all the clothes I imagine I'll buy when I can actually afford to shop. In the same way, I had to create space in my life for God to move. A lot of me had to decrease so He could increase. As a result, my faith has grown exponentially. I have become more spiritually mature. I now hear more from Him because I created that space.

I was truly able to hone in on and walk in my purpose this past year. You, too, have a purpose. You can't wait until your wedding day to start living and thriving. Want to travel? Go! Want to learn? Study! Want to own a business? Start! Marriage isn't promised, but a hope and a future are. Walk in that.

I want to encourage you to create space. It may not mean foregoing relationships for you like it did for me, but I'm sure there's something in your life that can take a backseat or be thrown out the window entirely as you allow God to take up more of a permanent residence in your life. This single year has made my life deleesh.

Photo by @jacobsantiago

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