For most people, what I am doing now it is a vague, foggy idea with dotted lines and muddled shapes.
It also happens to be completely backwards to common American ambitions. Normal people don’t give up a perfectly good job in a bad economy. They don’t go out and ask other people for money. Such dependency clashes with the self-sufficient lifestyle we uphold in our culture.
The conversation I have with people usually follows a similar outline. They ask how I make money if my new job doesn’t pay me. I sort through the ins and outs of fundraising meetings, letters, my paychecks, etc. And the question inevitably follows. “So how do you make money?” So I begin again.
Then they ask the tougher question: Why? It’s not tough because I don’t know the answer. It’s tricky to narrow down the reasons to a couple meaningful sentences that aren’t trite.
I probably could have plodded along as a journalist for years. I still found a measure of fulfillment in it. I still loved the heart of it. I didn’t leave it out of desperation.
The problem is, you can’t watch your life reshaped before your eyes and not want to tell someone about it. I couldn’t go from the broken, unsatisfied and confused girl I was for years without something dramatic changing. I couldn’t watch young women begin to mirror my history and not want to step in and shatter the glass.
I used to think making my reality match my youth-engrained theology would require giving up everything fun and interesting. That’s why it took me so long to do it. I’ve learned the real adventure came after I sacrificed things that stopped mattering. At that point, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a trade for something else. Something better. Something that left me breathless and renewed instead of hungover with regret. Something that helped others instead of breaking others’ hearts and my own.
I have conceded myself to the fact that some people won’t understand. They don’t have to. It is enough to walk through the slums of Ecuador and watch teen-aged eyes open. Or give an elderly Fijian who hasn’t seen in decades a pair of glasses. Or to hold a child’s hand in the Dominican Republic and tell them God loves them and see them believe it.
I treasure the people who, by all logic, shouldn’t support me but do anyway. And I will continue to attempt explaining it to everyone else.