Finding our identity seems to be what a lot of us are focused on in life. Finding some sort of purpose…a reason to live. What gets us going in the morning? What brings us joy? For me, it has always been people. I love em. Meeting them, hearing their stories, getting to know them and doing life together. Well, in college, I came to a realization that I was idolizing people. My friends and family, people who I love…I was living as if they were more important to me than my relationship with God. I still find myself struggling daily to put God above the people around me. And that’s hard for a 100% extroverted people-person, like myself. Now, loving people is not a bad thing (LOL). Just in case that’s what you heard me saying. It’s when those relationships take precedence in your life. When instead of running to God with your struggles, you go to your friends, significant other, or family members. It’s SUCH an easy rhythm to get yourself into. Heck, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. But the hard fact is that…I was. For others, identity comes in the form of their career, being a mother/father, financial status…it could be any number of things. And what are we all searching for? Happiness? A feel good kind of life? We’re searching for PURPOSE.
That desire was put in us by God. He isn’t surprised that we’re all down here on earth trying to find things that bring us joy and fulfillment. But where we get it wrong is that HE wants to be the One to bring us joy and fulfillment, not every other little thing that tends to.
He wants us to be satisfied and saturated in Him alone.
A little insight into my life recently. Something I have been hesitant to let everyone in on, outside of my close friends and family. On May 15, 2017, I was let go of my job at BLKBOX (they “couldn’t afford me anymore”).. 3 years to the date from when I was hired; also one week after I lost my Papa. It sucks to even write out, but here I am, being vulnerable through the pain and confusion it caused me. Who would want to admit that they were let go from a job? It's embarrassing. It was shocking. But guess what? God wasn't shocked. He wasn't up in heaven like "WHAT!? BROOKE GOT LET GO FROM HER JOB?? WHAT DO I DO NOW?" This was part of His plan. I just didn't know that's how it was gonna play out haha. I always thought of myself as a great, efficient, joyful worker. I've had tons of jobs, with no complaints ever. I took pride in doing good work, seeking praise from one boss to the next at BLKBOX, both of who never seemed quite fond of me once realizing I was a believer. The truth is, the boss who let me go was never “pro Brooke”. That hurt my pride. That hurt my identity. If you’ll remember, people are a huge part of my identity so when I’m not on good terms with someone, it wrecks me. Well, this time around, something was different. Because of the lessons I had learned in college, (shoutout to Aaron Rodgers) I wasn’t wrecked. My foundation stood strong in the midst of this trial. (This is not a brag. Please don’t hear me saying that I took this news perfectly, because it still hurt like hell.) I was sad, bitter, and angry. I was confused beyond belief, but there was a sense of calm the moment he told me to pack up my things. I had no idea why at the time.
Two days later, I get a call from Aaron (my old college pastor). He and Kristen, his wife, ask me to join their launch team for a church plant happening in the Summer of 2018 in Lawrence, KS. As if that wasn’t enough to think about, later that night I get another call from him telling me that he and Kristen think I need to move to Iowa to start preparing and establish relationships with the Lawrence team in Ames over the next year. I vividly remember telling Aaron I would pray about it, but knowing I didn’t want to move to Iowa. I wanted to stay in Fayetteville for the next year and then move to KS next summer. All of my friends were in AR and for heavens sake, I had just lost my job!!! My friend Liz and I had visited them in Iowa October of 2016 and I had been praying ever since about joining their church plant if that was the path God wanted me on. And if it wasn’t, that all the doors would be closed. Those prayers did NOT include Iowa, but funny how God knows us a whole lot better than we know ourselves. Right before my eyes, all the doors started opening…I’m talking like huge gust of wind kind of open. If you want to hear more about all the little details, hit me up cause I already feel like I’m writing a novel.
Fast forward to July 21. I move to Ames. This is after a long and emotional 2 months, full of goodbyes and packing. I had so much peace knowing this was the step of obedience God wanted me to take and I was saying, “YES!” to Him. He knew how unhappy I was at my job. He had a plan all along. He didn’t let me in on it when I wanted him to, but isn’t that what faith is? Trusting that our God wants good things for us. And yes, we have to go through hard times and we lose loved ones, and our jobs, but those things are NOT where our identities lie. If we do not identify ourselves in Christ, we are lost. That may seem bold to some, but I’ve seen it first hand in my own life. I am lost without my Savior. I am lost without my God who gives me direction. We have been put here with a purpose already instilled inside of our bones, to love God and love people.
The first night of living in Iowa was rough. Honestly, I wanted to be back in Fayetteville. I was overwhelmed and scared. I feel a sense of belonging there that I haven’t found yet in Iowa (obviously because it was the first week). I missed my friends, my house, my family. I played the new Hillsong album and prayed for peace. If you haven’t listened to it, it might change your life if you let it. (I’m aware of how cheesy that sounds, but if you know me, you know how much music touches me). The next day I woke up full of joy, ready to tackle the first weekend of my new life. So here I am, only 2 weeks into this new adventure in...Ames, Iowa (of all places haha*), and I’m already seeing how God is going to use me here. I have a job as a barista and I absolutely LOVE it!! I’ve met some amazing people and cannot wait to get to know them deeper as we adventure together for the next year!!
* I look back at my life last fall. I was so unhappy at my job. I told God, I pleaded with Him time and time again, "Send me anywhere. I can't be in this place anymore. Please Lord, I swear I'll go." Do we serve a good God, or what?!