Happily Even After
by Stacey Noem
Five months ago I got the opportunity to apply for my dream job. Out of nowhere. Before we had ever considered a job change; there it was: an opportunity.
It is funny, because just a week before the opportunity arose, I was sitting at a baseball game with some colleagues that I only see twice a year. We are all in our (ahem) “early thirties” and have some shared background and training in ministry. For the sake of conversation between innings I asked each of them what they would consider their “dream job” if they could pick anything.
One of the men promptly replied, “I’m doing it.” And truly, knowing the position he has and the work he is doing for the Church, I saw the truth of that immediately and felt happy for him. He has discerned God’s will for him vocationally and he is doing it.
Another replied a bit more flippantly – as is often his custom – “I don’t know…this probably” gesturing to the ballpark. When I asked, “What?” he responded that his dream job would be announcing baseball games.
Then my first friend, asked me, “What about you?” And after thinking about it, I realized I actually had an answer. A bit of a surprise for me because I hadn’t explicitly considered the question for myself before that moment.
Not a full week later I learned that that very position was open and there was a possibility they would consider me if I put in application materials.
It felt a bit like time stopped in that twenty-four hour period from when I heard about the possibility to when I sent in materials. It just felt SO big. So overwhelming and exciting and a little bit crazy and fast.
It also felt very clearly like an invitation. An invitation to reopen my — and Joshua’s — discernment about where we saw God leading us as a family and where we heard God calling us to be of service to the Church.
There were A LOT of steps in the process of applying for the position. And it took a good bit of time. Ultimately we were incredibly grateful for the time because we didn’t have to rush any aspect of our individual prayer and personal discernment, nor our shared conversations and family discernment.
It was a very rich process spiritually for me personally. Although I acknowledge that when something is “rich spiritually” it doesn’t always feel that great. I had my share of emotional moments and bad dreams. But I also had moments of deep prayer and consolation.
I felt as though we were being held in the very palm of God’s hand. We had only to trust. Well, “only to trust” AND do our share of the work: listening and trying to discern God’s will personally and in community. But doing that, I had confidence that God would be faithful.
Just before Christmas, I received an offer to take my dream job. While our discernment and the support of our community made it clear how to choose, the love and support of that same community made it challenging as well. At the end of February we will be leaving Portland and moving out of the Northwest.
It is such a gift to be offered a job I could only dream about a few months ago. There are so many aspects to our new transition and its impact on our relationship and family life. We have much more to learn as we figure out how to sell our house, transition the children into new schools and physically move halfway across the country. But whenever it begins to seem overwhelming, I rest in our good and solid discernment and remember that God has been faithful in every imaginable way.
Editor’s note: On March 5th Stacey will start as the Director of Human and Spiritual Formation in the Masters of Divinity Program at the University of Notre Dame.
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