Lately I’ve been snacking on a bag of Dove dark chocolates. If you’ve ever had a piece of Dove chocolate you know that on the inside of each wrapper there is an inspirational message such as, “make the most of everyday” or “keep promises you make to yourself.” Well, I stopped reading these messages because I’ve eaten so many chocolate pieces and now the messages all repeat themselves.
Tonight I opened one of my few remaining pieces and popped it in my mouth. I was about to crinkle up the wrapper and throw it away, but for some reason I stopped and read it. The message said: You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
To my surprise, this one was new to me. And I laughed, because for the last few days all I’ve been able to write in my diary is “THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE!!! THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING!!!” Just like that. In all caps. With three exclamation points.
Really, truly, sincerely…I’ve never felt so sure about anything in my life. In my last post I wrote the very same sentence and now it’s actually proving itself to be true.
Less than a week ago I started wondering if maybe I had set the bar too high – if maybe my expectations would only lead to disappointment. But then Real Life leader training began and I knew. I knew that leading this all girl’s team to Nicaragua was going to be what I predicted – exactly what I was meant to do.
Except…I was wrong. This whole thing is so much bigger than I ever dreamed, even bigger than I am capable of dreaming right now. I doubt I’ll be able to make much sense of it to you because I hardly understand it myself. All I know is that I’m completely overwhelmed – my soul has never felt this way before. It’s alive and active and filled with total peace and assurance, strength and confidence, faith and love. I know who God is and as a result know who I am, know the ways I’m gifted and know that victory will follow me wherever I go because God is with me.
The first night when the leaders gathered together for training someone approached me and reminded me about the power and purpose of my name. I smiled and thought, “That was nice. I’ve heard that many times over the years and it’s nice to hear again.”
The second night of leader training someone else came up to me and said, “Your name is Hope, right?” I nodded. She said this would be the season when I discover a deeper meaning of what my name means, of why I am named Hope. I treasured her words in my heart because I know I still don’t fully understand the value and purpose of my name.
At the same time, I kind of wondered if people were saying this kind of stuff to me merely because my name is Hope – not necessarily because of who I am. Having the name Hope makes it really easy for them to say I’m meant to bring hope and maybe everyone with the name Hope has the exact same thing said about them so I should probably just brush it off and not count it as anything too profound.
But then the third night in a row happened, and I knew God was speaking to me, that he was speaking a prophecy over who I am. Three is a significant number to God – it’s how many he is (Father, Son, Holy Spirit.) And he chose to speak this prophecy over me through three different people during three consecutive nights. I still don’t know what it means exactly but I believe as the months go by I’ll come to a greater understanding of why I’m named Hope, which will lead me into clearer direction for my life.
When I think about the future I often feel paralyzed, completely crippled by the unknown. I thought I knew what I wanted; I thought I knew what I was passionate about, where my life was going, but I was wrong.
I’ve said before that apart from Jesus, I’ve never thrown myself into anything as much as I did with Teach for America. Honestly, I’m confident I know more about TFA than people who are currently accepted to the program. Over the years I’ve talked with representatives in person and on the phone and through email. I have the website memorized. I’ve read the books. I’ve read all the TFA pieces in The New York Times. I wrote a stunning letter of intent for the application. I poured myself into the articles we were supposed to read for the final interview. I practiced over and over and over again my lesson plan.
But oh, how I prayed. And that’s what it was about for me – it was about having faith in God that this was my calling. I think quite possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever written was in my diary the day I was rejected. Because for me it wasn’t about getting rejected from Teach for America – I felt I was rejected from God and in that moment my life had no meaning, no direction, no purpose.
Today, two months later, I THANK GOD I was not accepted to Teach for America. I thought that was my calling? Wrong! I’m sure I would’ve have been good at it, but it would have killed me. My soul wouldn’t be alive and active like it is now, instead it would be stifled. While I agree with TFA’s mission I don’t necessarily agree with their means to carry it out. I always just ignored that fact when I was applying and secretly thought about how I would bend the rules a little…ha. Good thing you didn’t hire me, TFA!
What’s funny is that TFA still sends me emails asking me to apply – I seriously laugh when I get those emails. They tell me applying for TFA could be “the best career decision I make.” I guess they forgot about how I did apply and how they dumped me after leading me on for a while. But I’m not bitter.
Anyway. This post is not turning out how I thought it would. I meant to talk about my TEAM and not Teach for America. But this post is already way too long and probably boring for anyone who’s not me so I’m just going to stop. Besides, it’s nearly 2:30 a.m. and I’m absolutely exhausted these days. Completely, utterly exhausted. I can feel it in my bones and behind my eyelids. But it’s the good kind of exhaustion – the kind that comes from living with a relentless force.
Oh yeah, I just remembered. The whole reason why I started writing about TFA was to say the following: this team of girls I’m currently leading, this time in Nicaragua…THIS is now the cause I can say I’ve most thrown myself into. Correction: am currently throwing myself into. My sweat and tears and exhaustion are my beginning proof. But I’ll tell you more about that next time. We have one more day of training in Georgia and on Wednesday we fly to Nicaragua.
I may not know the big picture of my life yet, but right now I’m certain that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Okay, really, that’s all. Goodnight.