I Survived My 20s – Change

[Guest Post by Tracy] – I tried to stifle the tears as I watched my parents drive off. What had I done?

I graduated from college and secured my first job; that’s what.

Earlier that week I said my goodbyes, loaded the car, and moved across state lines to New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment.”

Gone was the familiar sound of my parents’ voices.  Gone were the opportunities to hang out with friends who knew my intimate details.

It was just my mini cactus, “Larry,” and me now.

We would face the change in my new life together.

Ironically, my first year in the “Land of Enchantment”… sucked.

Even Larry died. (yes, it is possible to over water a cactus)

The work I was doing was, simply, unfulfilling. My dream had failed me.

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy” -Lyrics from “Blessings” by Laura Song

So when a job opportunity opened up in Phoenix, Arizona, I accepted it. Perhaps I was pursuing my dream in the wrong location.

I arrived in the “Valley of Sun” and conquered my:

+Dream of making money: check.
+Dream of job success: check.
+Dream of dating the perfect and hot man: super heck-yeah check!

I had it all, yet all wasn’t enough.

I have attended church all of my life. I prayed a salvation prayer at some point. But nothing really changed, until that summer.

While I was busy chasing my dreams, God chased me. At the height of my perceived awesomeness, God intervened.

In the middle of the literal desert, He led me to a crossroad.

God’s question to my heart: are you thirsty for me, or for your dreams? I started to suspect the two weren’t going to intersect.

In the summer of 1999, I recommitted to following Him for the rest of my life. And my dreams began to shatter one by one…

+The hot man of my dreams rejected my heart, so I dated and dated, and for the love, I dated some more.
+The job and money of my dreams became meaningless. I had a college degree that I didn’t want to use anymore.
+Friends moved away or got married. Did I mention I was still single?
+My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had always dreamed that she would participate in my wedding and help me raise my children.

It’s not that I was wrong for having or pursuing dreams. It was just time to give some of them up.

In doing so, I learned that God never promises prosperity, He promises His presence.

I was now in the valley with the Son while living in the valley of the Sun.

God was my constant in the chaos of change.

[There is] “A time to search and a time to give up…” ~Ecclesiastes 3:6a, NIV

In the later part of my 20’s I began volunteering in youth ministry. God opened HUGE doors, eventually calling me into seminary, and youth ministry full time.

Teaching God’s Word and serving those around me is more fulfilling than all the money and the corporate success I once longed for.

God also brought the amazing Chad Steel into my life.

In front of the Disneyland castle, the place “where dreams come true,” he proposed. I finally married at the YOUNG age of 32. We have been married 4.5 years, have moved 3 different times, and have 2 children under the age of 4. {whew}

My mother went into remission from her breast cancer for the rest of my twenties.

She was at my wedding. She was holding my hand while I gave birth to both of my children. Her cancer has now spread to her bones, organs, and brain. I daily praise God for the time I have left with her.

Talk about God doing something beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

By the way, guess where my husband’s job JUST relocated us to? New Mexico! I am back to where I started, though I am forever changed by the beauty of God’s dreams for me.

I think I shall buy another mini cactus and name him “Larry”…

Tracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force. Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at www.onedegreeministries.com.