7.5

7.5

This time last week, I had no idea where I would be living today. My sublet was ending on Friday and I had known that for over a month and had been searching for the next place for just as long but… nothing. Nothing had come together. So I had booked a mover with only half helpful information – a pick up address with the drop off location still TBD. Awkward. So awkward. And frustrating. And annoying.  AKA: So very New York. And I’m not gonna lie – it was hard. Emotionally more than anything else. Moves are usually stressful due to finances, but thanks to my job, my side hustles and tax season, money wasn’t even an issue. What was a very real issue was the feeling of not just being uprooted, but feeling completely un-rooted. And being stuck in this cycle of not really belonging anywhere. Or to anyone.

Moving in New York is nothing new to me. I just did the math and since arriving 90 months ago (in October of 2009), I have moved 12 times. That’s an average of once every 7.5 months. Can you imagine that? At some point every year (twice in the really good ones!) packing up everything you own and moving it someplace else. It is exactly as fun as it sounds. And absolutely exhausting. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I moved on Friday night and by Sunday evening, I had every box unpacked. “Seriously?!” One of my friends was shocked (and I imagine, mad impressed.) “It took me 6 months to get to the last box!” Which isn’t unusual at all, but the way my vagrancy is set up, I just can’t afford to wait 6 months to unpack a box I’ll be repacking in 7. So if there’s something I can leave boxed up for 6 months, it’s something that I can leave behind. And I do. Not just when I move, but in day-to-day life, I’ve gotten really good at realizing that things are just things. And letting go of them. Because it’s all just stuff. And whether it’s something I bought or something that was given to me – if I got it once, I can get it again. Bad days and general annoyances aside, my life is on an incline, it’s getting bigger, better, stronger all the time. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was and to be afraid to let go of something because it’s the best I’ve ever had and “what if I never get it again??” is to be afraid that this is as good as it gets and that God has done all He can. But I know that isn’t true.

And that’s what I had to remind myself of in the moments when I just wanted to walk away from everything. Those moments when everything about the situation was screaming how much I didn’t matter, didn’t belong and didn’t have anything to show for all the years here. And honestly… there were some moments when if a door had opened someplace far far away, I would have thrown my cat in his carrier and run through it. But NOTHING was opening up. Except in Brooklyn. And I never got that desperate.

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about Brooklyn and they’ll probably tell you I hate it. In fact, you can ask around and even people who don’t really know me can probably tell you two things: I love cats and I hate Brooklyn.  They are well-worn facts from the folktales oft told about Jani The Cat. But are they true facts? Well… they are like Lifetime movies: based on real events, but exaggerated for entertainment value. I don’t have any real issue with Brooklyn. I just don’t have any use for it. I feel about Brooklyn exactly the same way I feel about the artwork on the wall across from my desk at work – it’s there but who cares? And what most people don’t know is that once upon a time, I almost moved to Brooklyn. I actually got selected in one of those housing lotteries and was thisclose to moving into a brand new building in the Crown Heights area when the subject of pets came up at the lease signing. And being the crazy cat lady that (anyone can tell you) I am, I had to turn down the keys to that brand-new-elevator-with-laundry-in-the-basement apartment.

But because we had already gone through all the paperwork the management office asked if we might be interested in living in another other building they had. In Washington Heights. And that was how I ended up living (and loving!) uptown. Which is where I ended up building a connect group. And building friendships. And a life. And I know it’s different for everyone, but for me… I just have a conviction that uptown is where I’m supposed to be. So even with the clock running out and the possibility of being homeless skyrocketing, I would see ad after ad featuring open spots in Brooklyn, and I never even considered it. And no one ever suggested it. Not seriously.

Which is crazy, right??

You’re literally days away from have NOWHERE  TO LIVE and you won’t even consider putting your crazy conviction aside.  Well… I’m also on the edge of NEVER MAKING IT, but still can’t quiet this conviction to keep writing. And I’m definitely within spitting distance of being SINGLE FOREVER but still can’t shake the conviction that there is someone great for me.

So this move, was a different test of faith from the million before it. It was a trial by fire of believing a particular area is where you’re supposed to be and waiting, against all reason, for a door to open. And you know what? A door did open. This time a week ago. I set up an appointment to go view a room that had just popped up on Gypsy housing. It was a little more than I wanted to pay for another roommate situation, but the pictures looked pretty nice and desperate times, right? So I went. And I met the new potential roommate. And I thought, “Yeah, okay. This could be good.” And I was pretty sure that it was going to work out, but I didn’t want to say anything until the sublease was signed and the deposit was in. And that didn’t happen until Thursday evening. So I didn’t know for sure for sure until the day before I was moving.

And it wasn’t until the day after I moved that it hit me what an amazing door I had walked through. In the borough/area I love. In the best building/apartment I have lived in so far. Cat-friendly. With an elevator. Laundry in the basement. In a spacious bedroom. With two windows. And two amazing views of the Hudson River, GWB and New Jersey.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

It is an Ephesians 3:20 kind of situation through and through. And it’s a new touchstone to remind me (and hopefully a testimony to encourage you) that you’re right where you’re supposed to be AND right about where you’re supposed to be. And what is for you, is for you and the clock may be ticking, but it’s actually on your side because it’s counting down to the open door that is just for you.

(And yes: 7.5 months from now, this sublet will be over and I’ll be moving on again, but I’ve already decided that I’ll be buying. And I’m already looking forward to seeing what “better than I can ask or imagine” is going to look like in that situation/process.)

The Odds

The Odds

Truth telling time: I’m tired. And kind of losing hope.

And not even really about being single. That is what it is. I’ve tried everything I can and everything everyone has suggested and nothing has “worked”, so it’s cool. I’m cool. It’s not on me. But writing… that is on me. And where I go with it, I feel that’s on me too. And I’ve got all these impossible dreams that keep creeping closer and closer to the realm of possibility. And it’s freaking me out.

My entire life feels like it’s heading in the direction of too much for me. And the more I find myself believing in the impossible, the more I find myself losing hope in me.

And I’m pretty sure that’s right where God wants me.

I’ve been reading the story of Gideon lately. It’s in Judges 7 and the superfast version is that God called him to lead an army into battle. He started with an army of 32,000, God said “Nope. Too many.” and cut it down to 10,000. Then God said that was still too many and took that number down to 300, and then sent that 300 up against an army of 135,000 (Judges 8:10). And the 300 won. The odds were 450 to 1. And the 300 won. Which is amazing. And crazy. And miraculous.

But here’s the thing: a victorious outcome in that battle was always going to be a miracle because the odds were always against Gideon. That original army of 32,000? The odds were still 4 to 1 against Gideon. But 4 to 1 just feels more plausible, doesn’t it? When it came time for the pre-battle pep talk, Gideon may have been sweating a little, but he could convincingly say “It won’t be easy, but we can do this.”

But a pep talk to that army of 300? Where each one of them would be personally responsible for taking down four hundred and fifty soldiers?  I think it would have sounded much less convincing but much more sure. Sure that they were going into the fray and sure that they only way they were going to make it through was by the grace of God.

So I don’t know where you are in your battle plans, but if the odds don’t feel like 450 to 1 yet, just wait for it. Because if you’re sweating, but still feel like you can plausibly accomplish what you’ve set out to do, then there’s probably still more to it.

But if you, like me, feel like the odds weren’t great before, but are absolutely impossible now — congrats. You’re right. And also right? Those fears that you can’t do it and can’t handle it and can’t make it. Because you can’t. But you will. You totally will. By the grace of God.

So brace yourself. And may the odds be never in your favor.

Mom-ish

There were three things I wanted to be when I was a kid. Well, two that I thought I wanted to be and one that I knew for sure. I thought I wanted to be a singer and a veterinarian. And I knew I wanted to be a mom. For as long as I can remember, those things were pretty set in my mind. So fast forward a hundred years and I am currently zero out of three. The veterinarian dream killed itself during a particularly boring day of high school biology, the singer dream occasionally comes to life, but is resting quietly at the moment. But the mom dream… that’s the one that cuts me. Because that has always been the number one dream. If I had ever been told that I could only have one, there would have been no hesitation, no question that motherhood is what I would have chosen.

But the chance to make that choice never materialized, so… here I am.  And a little while ago I talked about the evening when I was faced with the horrific prospect of my teen-mom cousin becoming a grandmother before I was a mother. I was on my way to Connect Group that night, but had to take a few minutes to cry in public and grapple with my faith and the feeling of being cheated. And then I pulled myself together and continued on my way. But the story didn’t end there. Due to the aforementioned crying and grappling, I was a few minutes late to connect group, so a few of the girls had arrived before me and when I walked in that night, one of the girls looked at me and announced “Mom’s here!” and for the next few moments everyone greeted me with “Hi Mom!” and as I was hugging and smiling on the outside, on the inside I was telling God “Oh hell no. This is NOT what I want.” Because it wasn’t.

I can imagine the darkest timeline, the one where I never have children and I can see how it could totally happen, but if it does… I will feel cheated. And that’s real. So in that moment, it felt like God was trying to trick me into accepting a consolation prize.  Like He’s been trying to trick me for years. Because people have been calling me “Mom” for years. And it’s never bothered me, I’ve never taken it as a bad thing, if anything, I’ve taken it as a compliment. But that night was the first time I completely rejected it on the inside. I felt like, If you’re not going to give me this the way I want it, then I’m not going to walk in it at all. So I didn’t say anything to anyone else, but I said to myself (and God), “No. I will not be the mom here.”

But no one knew any of that was going on. And it was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to move our bible study to a nearby park. We set ourselves up at one of the bench tables and everything was fine. At first. But New York is a funny place. It is full of characters and even though we’re all brushing up against each other all the time, we still keep our distance for the most part. So when worlds do collide, it’s always memorable. And on this night, our world collided with a cray-cray lady in the park. We had been chatting for a few minutes when she deliberately wandered over with her dog and asked if she could join us.  And these are the moments when being a Christian is tough. When you can pretty quickly tell that someone is not all there, but when you ask yourself “WWJD?” you’re pretty sure the answer is not Chase her and her dog away with a stick. So you say “Yes, of course — please join us.” So she sat down with us.

And the next ten minutes were spent trying to keep her, her mystical mumbo-jumbo stories and her general off-ness from dominating the conversation. At one point I remember snapping my fingers at her and saying “Look at me, you can stay, but you have to be quiet and listen. Do you understand?” (Which is not at all something a mom would say.)  And she did settle down a teeny-tiny bit, but after a few more minutes it was clear that she was too disruptive. And that somebody needed to do something about it.  But I didn’t want to. Because I was not trying to lose this particular battle of wills with God.  So I tried to hold out, but she was making everyone too uncomfortable and I loved those girls too much to let it continue. So I took back the mom mantle and took one for the team. I took our new friend aside so she could tell me everything she wanted to say and my connect group could continue safely and sanely.

And I don’t remember anything that lady told me, I know there was a lot of crying and hugging and zero reading of social cues, but it didn’t matter, she was mostly harmless and I was busy accepting my fate. If this is the kind of mom I am right now, so be it. It’s not enough forever. But it’s what I have for now.

So I started making peace with the idea of being that kind of mom, instead of rejecting it out of that old suspicion that my acceptance of it would encourage God to withhold what I really wanted.

And what I didn’t know that day was that almost exactly a month later, I would be starting this blog. And even though I started it with total focus on single women age 27+, over the past few months, I’ve recognized more and more the importance of speaking honestly about this walk, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the women right behind us.  To hopefully spare them some of the mistakes and better prepare them for the challenges. And to not pass on the same fears and hindrances that have stumbled so many of us.  And to ease the way and open as many doors as possible. And even I have to admit, that sounds pretty Mom-ish.

So if I never have children and I someday say “It’s okay, I don’t even mind anymore.” I want you to know that I’ll be lying. 100%… 103%. But I’m not going to let the fear of that make me hold back now. So to those of you who do let me “mom” you on occasion, thank you. It’s good practice. (And sometimes a helpful deterrent). And to the women like me who are still waiting for “the real thing,” for whatever reason, don’t lose heart. And don’t give up hope. That’s not what a mom does.