I officially ended work on Friday August 25th. It was a glorious yet bittersweet day. Work’s end marked for me a moment of overcoming, a full circle space in time. Almost exactly a year ago to a day, I attended a Bethel worship concert with one of my closest friends that would change the shape of my next year.
As I sat in Vancouver’s Orpheum theatre over a year ago, tears rolled down my face as worship music swelled around me. I asked, “Papa, what is it that you want me to do?”
The words came to me almost audibly, “Leave track. You won’t be returning to school in January.” My jaw dropped to the floor. That was the last answer I was expecting.
“Katie, trust me. That’s all I am asking you to do. I will provide.”
He has provided. As I look back over this year that has unfolded since that moment, I marvel at all I have been given since that moment of being asked to surrender what I held most central and dear at the time.
I have been given a well-paying job, the opportunity to take a heavily discounted night class, and the chance to go to both South Korea and Mexico. I have been given a job over the summer, a wonderful carpool, a place to live, a car, and a beautiful family that continues to support me. I have been given more than I could ever need.
I left the Orpheum that night both struck by His love and providential promise, but also terrified.
Let’s start at the beginning. Track and field was all that I had ever known, having competed since the age of eight. Objectively, I’ve also known a life filled with art, media, and communications – but I have never known a life in which I did not run.
In addition, if there’s anything I have truthfully known my entire life, it’s school. School is comfortable. I know it well. The space I had come to inhabit during my undergraduate degree at Trinity Western University felt like a natural and normal thing.
Coming to understand what His will for the next year looked like took time, and I ended up attending Trinity Western University’s extension program, the Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa for the four fall months of last year. I had confirmed that long before my encounter with my Father, and was thankful for still being able to learn, just in a different capacity.
Come the new year, I transitioned out from living “the high life” in Ottawa, blessed with the opportunity to meet with Canadian officials, high-ranked professionals and live with some of TWU’s best. This was the last bit of the life I lived before embracing the call to step away from everything familiar.
Reader, I left all those comforts. I started work on January 10th, spending eight months in an environment that was completely different from what I had ever known before. My coworkers were beautiful people, but there was no illusion of a familiar bubble, there was no Christian comfort. My days were filled with an immense amount of uncertainty in terms of my job, my partner and my tasks for each day.
One month in, my life had completely transformed. I worked on a road crew for the city, literally picking up needles and dead animals (and a plethora of other interesting items) on the side of the road. I experienced weeks of torrential downpour (thank you West Coast of Canada), drove a snowplow, picked apart beaver dams in wading boots, filled potholes with asphalt and many other miscellaneous jobs that you might imagine a city worker doing. Working a unionized 9-5 job as a 21-year-old was as eye opening and revealing as it was stretching and challenging.
It was a shock and yet it was exactly where I needed to be to feel His presence – away from track, away from school, away from all that was familiar.
I continually believe that our Father calls us into new seasons where He reveals new truths or shapes and molds us depending on the specific circumstances we encounter.
My time with the city, away from everything passed quicker than I anticipated and it eventually made way for the hot, smoky, summer months here in Langley.
I spent a lot of time comparing these past four months to last summer. Last year I was comfortable. Last year I did a lot of “stuff”. Last year I was approximately one hundred times more social. Last year, I was still anticipating returning to school in the spring and participating in my beloved track.
I’ll be real with you. This summer, I didn’t put a bathing suit on or go to the beach until this past Saturday. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t even wearing a bathing suit – it was a wet suit. Does that count? There were no beach outings, no road-trips, no fun ice-cream dates. Just city work and then home life.
I’ve been comparing these past four months with the previous year and every month in between the two book-ending summers. I’ve had to continually tell myself to stop. I believe last summer I needed a summer of rest, a summer of revival and rejuvenation. God delivered so clearly on what He revealed in August, then delivered in a clear yet uncomfortable way in January and now looking back over the summer, His plans for me these past four months were obviously much different.
Perhaps I was still too comfortable, perhaps I needed to grow. This summer, I am confident of His presence and hand, but it often felt as though my time with Him was cut short, and after work hours were filled with “things” that truthfully just made me tired.
Two very different summers, but the same God.
As I look ahead to what’s next, I know that I’m being called into yet another season. If I’m honest, I hope it’s one containing rest and yet, I’ve committed my heart and soul to many different things.
Stepping out of one season and into another is filled with fear as well. I am afraid that I will lack balance. In addition to returning to track and school, I am also going to work as the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper. I am afraid of not doing well in all of the classes I have committed for my last year of university. I’m wrapping up an entire degree and the excellence within me desires for a quality year.
I’m also afraid of feeling left behind in the game of life. I feel old when I walk into the school cafeteria and don’t recognize anyone, especially as a fifth year who missed an entire year of socializing on campus. I’m afraid that I don’t have what it takes to “make the cut”.
All this and yet, I have a Father who works and loves and moves always, in ways that are further and bigger than I could ever expect. He calls me to make God-sized goals that honour and cherish Him.
What if you and I thought about our roles differently? What if we saw these barriers and fears as areas in which God was wanting to grow us?
God is already at work, ready to change us, and going to change the lives of those on my campus, around it, affected by it, passing through and beyond. While I am still scared and nervous, my Father has been reminding me lately that we are called into these roles for a specific time, a specific purpose.
As I return to student life, I was comforted that the theme this year on campus is (conveniently) the book of Esther. The main verse reads, “…for such a time as this” and this could not be more relevant and true. Somedays I don’t want to don my roles because I think of the responsibility, the onus, the burden, the work, the late nights (yikes!), the balance and the way I must trust my Father even more than I already do.
Then, I remember the beautiful season that God just took me on and I remember again that life with Jesus is always worth it and that, maybe, just maybe, you and I are called into the roles we have, leadership or not, “for such a time as this.” It’s go time.
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