It was January, just weeks after I had graduated from college with a degree in Writing, and a minor in Social Justice and Advocacy. I had dreams of traveling the world, getting my hands filthy with dirt and mud and my feet covered with stories of helping people I loved—kids in India, mothers in Somalia, young girls in New York…really, I was open to anywhere. Anywhere but here (Orange County in Southern California).
It was a season that taught me, the hardest things in life are usually the ones that are the most worth it. And it was the start of me knowing, for certain, what I was always meant to do. I just needed a little reroute to hold my face and look me square in the eye…
I remember driving home from work, coasting on the 405 South one night, reflecting on my life—where it was at and where it was headed. The family I was staying with was smack in the middle of fostering the sweetest one year old, who, for some divine reason took a particular liking to me. She would only cease crying for her siblings with I would snuggle and rock her (did I hate it? Um…nope). I was applying to work in a safe house for teenage girls taken out of trafficking situations in New York, and for jobs with International Justice Ministry in Washington D.C. I was freshly single after breaking up with the guy that held my heart for three (way too) long years, and was free to learn and grow and go wherever I wanted. I don’t know why that memory of driving, just driving, on the freeway with my thoughts has stuck with me for close to four years…but what I do know is that just four months later, I was rushing on the opposite side of the freeway after the police called with news that pushed me out of bed and en route to the hospital, eventually landing three boys (my brothers, ages 2, 7, and 12) into my full time care as a foster parent. Twenty-two. Single. Aspiring traveling humanitarian.
To…full-time mom overnight.
Since that day, my life has taken some crazy turns—from court dates, to giving two of the three boys back into their birth moms custody, to adopting a teen, meeting my husband, and having a baby of my own…These past three years have been _full…_to say the least. Full of nights with tears and anxiety and fear. Full of hardships that I still can’t fully process. But so so full of beauty and joy and laughter. It was a season where tears reaped joy, and the beauty of the time (that’s still so ongoing) far outweighed the pain.
It was a season that taught me, the hardest things in life are usually the ones that are the most worth it.
And it was the start of me knowing, for certain, what I was always meant to do. I just needed a little reroute to hold my face and look me square in the eye and say “Girl, those things are _good, traveling and helping and going…_that’s good good work. But it’s not the work for you.”
When we pause, whether willingly or kicking and screaming, we’re given the opportunity to examine our dreams, and to reevaluate where we are headed. And sometimes, go in the completely opposite direction.
Taking a step back gives us the freedom to refine our journey to reach our ultimate destination.
My step back was not intentional, nor welcomed. I grieved (and, hear me, grieving is a good thing to do when you’re dreams are challenged and you are eventually asked to completely let go…in fact…it is 100% necessary). I wanted to see other places, and love people that were different than the people I’d been surrounded with my whole life. But, as life would have it, that glorious interruption showed me that my major calling in life was to be a Mommy (with that capital M), and to defend the orphans that are here. In 2014, there were over 62 thousand kids in the foster care system, two thousand of them being in Orange County alone. My home.
Once I became aware of this, how could I turn around and jump on a plane without a blink? This was my cause, and it took a good slap in the face to wake me up to it.
My step back was not intentional, nor welcomed. I grieved (and, hear me, grieving is a good thing to do when you’re dreams are challenged and you are eventually asked to completely let go…in fact…it’s necessary).
But it went even further than that. I was determined to work for either a ministry or organization that would let me blabber out my ideals for foster care, share my experience, maybe even (still…I know) let me travel or move away. Then, I married someone who’s job relies on his location. Beyond that, welcome sweet little honeymoon baby Scout…You guys…my dreams of moving far far away are becoming further than the miles I’d hope to have moved by now.
But then, something clicked.
I started sharing my story on my blog. I started inviting people in, and I started writing more and more. I applied for the Yellow Co. and was offered a writing and editing position that has become one of those key puzzle pieces in my life. I fell into my dream job, before ever thinking I would want to edit and write full time for a career.
And here I am! Happy with where my life is headed, all because some tragic, hard, and demanding circumstances decided to weasel their way into my life.
Life forced me to pause and redefine my mission, where I am headed, and to take a completely different course. And I cannot imagine it any other way.
Through writing, by saying yes to the opposite opportunities than I thought would come, I found my passion for life. I found healing and processing. And I found a way to speak up for those I’ve always wanted to be a voice for, just in a very different way than I imagined.
I fell into my dream job, before ever thinking I would want to edit and write full time for a career.
Don’t be afraid of those speed bumps… Those circumstances that may be disheartening or robbing of what you are pursuing. It will all work out—just take a breath, grieve if you need to, and really take a close look at the road before you. Don’t be afraid of your road’s turn. There’s no such thing as wasted time learning. You’re in process; we are all in process, and you will find your way, whether by your own epiphany or by a set of unforeseen circumstances that will push you off that diving board, and into the pool you were created for. Take heed to the shifting winds, and embrace the change, and you’ll find your purpose soon enough.
Photos by Valerie Denise