Letting go, and letting God
Learning that life is not in my hands, and finding freedom in letting God take the wheel!
Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at Your feet... - Lauren Daigle
Moving abroad (yet again!) with minimal savings and contacts, I have had to learn over and over again that I am not in control. Yet somehow, it's what I seem to keep aspiring to have. It's what we all want. To know that we have security, stability and fulfillment.
Last November, I packed my bags and moved to London in pursuit of a career in fashion styling. When I first arrived in the UK, I spent 2.5 weeks on a friend's couch while I looked for work and adjusted to the dark, dank climate. Grateful as I was, living in someone's communal area is by no means easy for anyone, host and hosted alike. So I moved on to the couch of some new-found family who kindly gave up their lounge room to accommodate me for 3 months. During this time I had all my Aussie savings go missing in a transfer to the UK, causing huge stress as how to pay for the basics, like groceries, transport, phone bills etc. I also dropped my phone in the toilet (why?!) which I heavily relied on to respond to job interviews, pay for transport and stay connected to friends and family back home. Life was chaotic without it. After a month of applications and interviews, I got a short-term contract at Harrods working in the head office (thank you, Jesus!). With a borrowed phone that constantly died without warning and no money of my own, commuting to work on an overly-crowded tube system I did not understand and finding my way to the various training days in my first week was really tricky. (I really didn't know how much I relied on Google maps, tube apps, email and instant messaging to get around before). Add the miserable weather, my incomplete winter wardrobe and having to get ready without a mirror or proper access to my clothing (as it was stored in various parts of the house) I most certainly was not in the right mind set to start a new job at a world renowned luxury retailer. (Can I also mention the rascal cat who insisted on eating my earrings and running off with my visa? Let's just say his cuteness saved him!)
After I settled in at work, I began countless late nights of flat-share hunting in the rain and cold, getting lost and disappointed night after night. It was such a season of patience and perseverance. After a few months, my new phone arrived in the mail, my savings were recovered and I finally found a flat-share I could afford (London, you pricey!)
On the first night of March, at 11 pm, I moved into my new flat. Finally, I had a room to myself, a place to keep all my belongings, and a door I could keep shut. The very next day was Monday, and I was back at the office. There was no time for unpacking or grocery shopping. I lived on muesli bars and fruit until I eventually worked out my new commute and where to shop (don't underestimate the effects of lengthy London commutes and dark, cold mornings and nights on your energy levels). Once everything was unpacked and the fridge was full, I thought, finally! I'm pretty much there! (Still needed to buy a full-length mirror and complete my wardrobe to meet the Harrods office standards, but, you know!) I have a home, I have a job, I have my savings and I kinda know how to navigate myself around this city. I have regained control and organisation. I'm no longer a hot mess! The next weekend was my birthday and I honestly had one of the best days of my life. With the knowledge that my life was now finally on track, and great hopes for the future, I had a wonderful weekend. A birthday dinner at the Shard with my new beau, a high-tea tour bus around London with one of my besties, and late-night dancing with friends in Soho... life was good!
Two weeks later, however, we went into lockdown. Another month later, my contract came to an end.
Lockdown itself had countless struggles of its own, and I know it has affected everyone around me. I had moved in with strangers, as you do in London, not anticipating just how much time we would be made to spend together. In the first month of lockdown, both my flatmates left the flat to be united with their families during the difficult circumstances. Left on my own for one month, and being newly unemployed, I worried if I should return to Australia. What had I moved to London for, if not to kick-start my career and embrace the plethora of opportunities I had anticipated?
Feeling the peace of God to remain where He'd led me, I put all anxious thoughts aside and focused on the now. By the end of four weeks, I had gotten myself into a healthy routine of waking up early in the mornings to do yoga with a friend over video chat. I had no real reason to wake up anymore, given we were limited to one daily walk, and instructed to remain inside our homes for the remainder of the day. But the virtual yoga got me up and about, and from there I motivated myself to work on small projects, undertake an online training course and re-vamp my resume and LinkedIn. Things were going well, until my one flat mate returned and declared that yoga was evil and literally forbid me from continuing it indoors. As she was working from home, the lounge room was practically off-limits, and I spent most of my time in my teeny tiny room, the size of a Mini Cooper. As the lockdown continued, it began affecting me more and more. Without the possibility to escape, to stay with family or friends like my flatmates and many others had decided to do, I felt terribly and utterly trapped. The government had forbidden the mixing of households, and of course all the cafes and shops were closed, meaning there was no where else to go besides my little council flat, which was feeling more and more like a prison. After weeks I asked my flat mate if my boyfriend could come over, feeling desperately isolated and stuck. It had been raining all week, I was still unemployed and there were no signs of the lockdown easing. I was missing my family and friends in Aus and began resenting the lack of freedom I had both inside and outside my home. She said no, that we were to obey the rules of our government, and I would have to wait for the restrictions to ease. Despite the fact she herself had been home with her family for a whole month, she had little empathy for what I was going through. This was incredibly frustrating and in the end I spent a small fortune riding the trains up and down with my boyfriend one Saturday, as this was the only way I could see him without getting drenched in the rain. I lived for weekends, when my employed friends were free to meet up with me however possible. The end of lockdown was nowhere in sight and it became increasingly difficult to be hopeful.
I went through an enormous growth period with God, learning that nothing in this life is guaranteed to stay. Jobs, homes, friends, health... it can all slip away. But Jesus, our rock and firm foundation, remains forever (Isaiah 26:3-4). And His plans will prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
After another attempt to explain to my flat mate how badly the lockdown was affecting me, and trying to find a compromise for the both of us, she suggested the flat might not be the right place for me.... She was not going to budge from her views; if I didn't like it, I'd have to move out. About a month later, I did just that.
God was faithful throughout this period of flat hunting. At just the right time, I had a friend from church reach out to me, inquiring about Christian flat shares. We ended up looking together for a couple of weeks, and were partly joined by another girl who came across the most beautiful home in the prettiest neighborhood for a crazy affordable price. She then went her own way, but the house was still available and we wanted to move in, we just needed a third person. In the middle of all this, I met up with another friend from church for her birthday (in the park, of course). I told her I was still looking for work, and she said she was looking for a flat. In the end, she got me a job at a pizza shop and I got her in on our house-hunt. Another month later we were signing the papers. I had finally found a job and a new home.
Now that I had regained some kind of stability (once again), I was determined to get myself back on track. I had been applying for jobs for 4 months straight, but now that I had a steady income to pay my rent and a home where I felt at peace, I was in the perfect place to really give it my all to land a good job. After several weeks of applications, phone calls and networking, nothing had changed. The job market was still shot, the lockdown was intensifying and my part-time job was becoming increasingly difficult. (That's a whole other story where I have had to call the police to intervene in physical violence, receive constant unwanted attention, travel home after 1 am, scale fences to catch the last bus, put up with super difficult co-workers and cop a lot of customer abuse and poor management...) I didn't know what more I could do. Nothing seemed to be within my power or control. I'm not the type to sit back and hope for the best, I'm the type to reach out for the things I want in life, give it a go and make the effort. After all, it's why I came to London! To launch my career, to reach for opportunity. How could I give up? How could I not persevere?
And then one night He spoke to me. Stop. Trust.
Stop, you are clearly not in control. I am. Look at where I have carried you. Look at what I have provided for you. Look at the doors I have opened: Your job, your home, your friends, your boyfriend, your church community... you did not have to fight for these things. These I have given you freely. They have practically fallen in your lap. Yes, you showed up at church. Yes, you joined a connect group. Yes, you applied for jobs. Yes, you actively searched for a home. Yes, you got involved in a community. But you did not wrestle for them. I met you there, and provided for you. Just as I open doors, I close them. Pay attention to what I am doing. Trust me. I knew Covid was going to happen long before you could even begin to imagine it.
Let go. Let go. Let go.
When You don't move the mountains I'm needing You to move When You don't part the waters I wish I could walk through When You don't give the answers As I cry out to You I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You - Lauren Daigle
I was walking home from work one night, having spoken to my very wise mother and equally wise best friend back home, telling them the latest. My friend told me that during this season she has learnt that what God has for her will find her, whether she can see the path or not. She will give life her best, but God's will will prevail. As she was texting me, a worship song I was listening to sang, "Let go of your doubts and just believe in Me." Wow. God's timing!
In that moment, it sunk in so deep. I don't have to forge my own way. I don't have to force open any doors. God knows where I'm at, and He's well aware of my desires, but before I was born, He had laid His plans for me (Jeremiah 1:5) What He's prepared for me, will come to me. What He hasn't, shall pass. If I don't get the job, if the interview fails, if the opportunity goes awry, I don't need to fear. There's nothing more I should or shouldn't do to make things happen. As long as I seek Him first, and listen to His calling, He will make a way and show me where to go (Matthew 6:33; Proverbs 3:6). Yes, still show up. Yes, still give it my best shot. But at the end of the day, I can put all my energy and effort into applications, and God still has the final say (Proverbs 16:33).
So Lord, have Your way. I cannot force my way any more than I can make it rain. I know You hear me and I know You are with me. I know you have placed the desires in my heart. I know you can use me, my passions, skills and talents for greater things. If I am aiming my energy in the wrong direction, redirect me. I let go. I trust Your plan is greater. I trust I will be more fulfilled in following Your path than my own. I admit I don't know better, I can't see further than You. I trust that You love me more than anyone else and want better for me than anyone else. Where will You have me go? Because I don't want to fight a losing battle trying to make it on my own.
I am alert, but not panicked. I am ready, but not waiting in agony. I look around and see all that is going right, all that He has worked together already for my good. I recognise His provision. Recognise what is in front of me, not what isn't.
In this moment, I have time; I have ideas; I have a home office; I have a quiet neighborhood... It's like He's saying, "Put two and two together, honey!" Use that, it's powerful. God is moving. I won't ignore it just because it's not what I was expecting or looking for. It's what God is freely giving to me right now! Let God truly take the wheel and show me what He has for me right now. And in due time, the course could change again, in His timing, with opportunities that cannot be made available now, because they are meant for later.
Let go of control, and let God move.
Let go, and let God.