It’s been 2 weeks since I left Los Angeles as I write this post. I know the anticipation has been high as to what I will write about my 2 months in LA, but here’s some context for the delay.
I know that in the grand perspective of life and history, it was just 2 months of my life. But in the perspective of this year, LA was the longest place I stayed rooted in my entire 2019. And A LOT happened.
LA became a home for me, and leaving it all behind left me an emotional wreck. So I needed some time to process and be present with my family and close friends before I could publicly share the past summer.
I’ll start with before I even get to LA – even then, the prequel is a 2-part post! I kind of allude to the experience in this previous post, but it’s so vague that you wouldn’t have known it was about going to LA.
Before I continue with the next few posts that will be all about LA, I hope that you’ll grow closer to God through my experiences. Because my season in LA is not a rubric for your own adventure, but just as a small inspiration of what God can do with your story if you’d let Him. Here we go, from the very beginning:
I spent no more than a month in a new country/city this 2019: January was London with a sprinkle of Madrid, February was all over the world literally from Australia to Japan, March was Hong Kong, April was split between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. And then we arrive at the crossroads of the end of April.
By the end of April, I had great job offers scattered across Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Yet, for the life of me, I could not commit a full ‘yes’ to any of these offers. They were not bad offers, so it baffled me that usually a ‘yes’ risk-taker could not say ‘yes’. For one of the offers, I wanted to say yes so badly, but as soon as I was going to commit, an anxiety attack hit me so hard that I knew that saying yes would not be the best option.
In the midst of so many options, I knew that I had the favour of God on my side. I am blessed to have options. I am blessed to be in a life position where I was allowed to negotiate and consider my options, and not have to instantly say ‘yes’ to whatever popped up at my door. I also knew that if I said ‘yes’ to any of these opportunities, the blessings of God would continue.
Even with the peace of God within me and over me, there was a reason why I couldn’t give a full ‘yes’. The reason was the nagging question I was asked in all the interviews:
Grace, what do you want?
All the interviews I went through asked me that question, and my smartass interview answer was: I want a job, and you can give me one.
I had my smartass answer, but it was only a thin veil of the real problem within me: I didn’t know what I wanted.
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I am a classic 9. If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, I highly recommend it for character growth.
Anyway, here’s what Christopher Heuertz writes in his book ‘The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth’ about type 9s:
“The traditional Passion of the Nine is sloth, or more accurately the lethargic, self-forgetting apathy they practice with their own drives, needs, and desires. If their external world is okay, they think they’ll be okay too, thus failing to give themselves the proper self-care and attention required to wake up out of their mental and bodily inertia.”Christopher Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
I’ve always struggled to know what I wanted. I tend to figure out what I want by process of elimination, and that was at the core of my indecision. I know that I prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla, or that I’d rather be in a job that has human interaction over endless isolated work.
The problem with this reactive process is that I know my preferences, but I still don’t know what I want.
A whole week passed as I sat on these offers. By sitting on these offers, I meant I did the basic Christian legwork of praying to God, seeking counsel, and reading the Bible and wise books.
If we go back to the quote about type 9s, my problem is that I’d rather react instead of be active. I would rather the world happen to me, than I go out and engage the world.
The basic Christian legwork works – that’s why they’re part of the basics. However, my heart was not actually engaging with God. I was going through the motions, instead of using these tools to seek God.
I can pray some poetic psalms, get the best advice from the best adults, and highlight the best quotes from the best Christian authors – but if my heart was not actually seeking God, then I was still in apathy.
“As long as they feel that people are keeping their distance, Nines think they are okay. But the truth is they aren’t; ultimately they need to be drawn out of themselves.”Christopher Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
In hindsight, I was keeping God at a distance during the decision-making process. It’s not like God and I were in a bad place, but I was not letting God into the mess of figuring out what I wanted.
The thing about the God I know is that He’s a God of closeness. He spoke to prophets in the Old Testament. He sent His Son down to dwell with us and spend time with broken humans like you and me. He sent His Spirit to live in us when Jesus left this earth.
After that whole week of essentially avoiding making a decision about the job offers, I realised time was not in my favour anymore and the pressure was unavoidable now, so I finally sat down on a fine Friday morning to spend time with God.
That was when I realised that I haven’t actually spent quality time with God in a while. So, I didn’t just pray at God or play some worship music in the background. I worshipped, and talked to God, and waited on Him to answer me. I had a conversation with God for the first time in a long time.
When you earnestly seek God, He will answer. His answer may not be what you want, but it will be what you need.
The answer He gave me was not what I wanted to hear. God told me that what I wanted was what He wanted.
It was a rough awakening that showed my real motive in all the job applications and in all the people I interviewed with: I was so selfish that I never once considered what God wanted. All I cared about was what I wanted, and even then, I didn’t know what I wanted!
This answer then led to another question: What do you want, God?
The answer was just as simple and rough as the answer from before: what God wants is for me to serve Him.
As soon as I got that answer from God at 1230PM Saturday Hong Kong time, I received an email from Mosaic Church at 930PM Friday Los Angeles time saying I got into their internship program.
No one writes emails on a Friday night.
My heart was stirred from its instinctive apathy into conscious action.
The story doesn’t really end there, but if I continued, this post would get TOO long. So I’m splitting it into a 2-part blog post, which you can now READ PART 2 HERE!