Friday was my last day of work at PATH. It’s strange to be laid off at the ripe young age of 23, but that is the way the world works sometimes (especially the non-profit world). I am okay with it, I truly am. Though it would have been easy for me to cry and be upset and scramble to find my next job, I instead chose not to do that. Ever since I started college, the entire way I view life and the way it ought to be lived is rooted in the confidence that I don’t need to have it all figured out. I can live my life one step at a time and rest in uncertainty because one thing is always certain: no matter what, I can still live a life of joy, kindness, thoughtfulness and love. I can assuredly tell you that this is rooted in faith and the fruit of that faith is not seen in how successful I am at work or where I go out to eat. The fruit of my faith is seen in my actions and if my only actions are to push forward in my career without paying attention to the world around me…well then I’ve done something wrong.
I will always treasure my time at PATH. It is still amazing to me that I was able to work there right out of college and feel so deeply connected to what I had spent so much time studying in school. It was always wonderful to receive a weekly email with the top news in global health and realize that PATH is right in the middle of it all, slowly reaching its goal to create a world where health is within reach of everyone. Beyond just the work of PATH, I will miss going to work where my coworkers were not just coworkers but people who I consider my friends and mentors. I look up to every single person who works at PATH for the stellar work they do and for the beautiful souls inside of each of them. The people I interacted with every day were not simply at work to get a paycheck. They were at work to make some small difference in the world through their excel spreadsheets and daily phonecalls to candidates.
There were days I was frustrated staring at my computer screen and wished that the picture of children running through maize would come alive in front of me and I could feel the warm Kenyan air on my face. But alas, the dusty African roads are not for all of us, and it takes a strong will to remember in the midst of technical difficulties or formatting frustrations that somewhere out there a child didn’t die of diarrhea because of the work being done in the headquarters office. Yet everyday ended with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude because the attitude of every coworker is one of generosity. And with generosity often comes joy and love and, in my very lucky case, friendship. There is no greater joy to me than being able to call my coworkers my friends, but PATH certainly provided me with a wealth of lunchtime conversations, hilarious mid-morning chats in the kitchen and one tear filled walk to a pick-me-up hot chocolate the day I was laid off. It is a blessing to be able to cry on your last day and not be embarrassed when a co-worker sees it. Because these were no ordinary co-workers, they were friends.
It is good timing to end my job of nearly a year and a half with the celebration of Epiphany. Epiphany by its very definition is a sudden insight into the reality of something (life is not defined by what I do, but by how I live), usually initiated by some simple occurrence or experience (I am now unemployed). In the church calendar it comes at the end of Advent – a season of anticipation and reception of something new. With Epiphany comes something new entirely and I think that Jan Richardson writes it best in her book Night Visions:
“As we cross into the season beyond Epiphany, we are beckoned to ponder other passages we may be making. The thresholds of our lives serve as places to choose, to discern, to sort out what we consider important and where we feel called to go. Whether or not it seems sacred at first, a threshold can become a holy place of new beginnings as we tend it, wait within it, and discern the path beyond.”
I find myself now at a threshold, wondering what might come next. I have chosen to take time to pray and consider what it is I would like to be doing with my life right now. I will be pursuing my passion for music more wholeheartedly than I have in the past, but other than that I am choosing to wait. To not jump at just any employment opportunity. To trust that in time all will be made clear. To patiently hear where God might be calling me next. Life needn’t be incredibly glamorous for me to feel fulfilled, it simply needs to be lived well. Thankfully I have a community around me supporting me in my quest for what is next and they are not rushing me into the next step. One step at a time, pausing in each threshold and waiting for direction. That is what I strive for this year to be and I hope you will walk with me as I learn new lessons every single day when I open my eyes and ask, “What will I see today and what will I learn from it?”