originally published 29 December 2016
At the end of January I will be gathering up my things, packing them in my car, and moving to Seattle, WA.
There isn’t just one reason or a specific event that pushed me to make the decision to leave. Instead, it was like dominoes stacked in a row then accidentally bumped; A conference led to a conversation, which led to a revelation, which led to another conversation, and so on until it was painfully obvious it was time for me to leave.
In July I told my boss, “I’m not going to make it to March,” my two-year mark. My job had changed a lot since I had started full-time, and it was no longer something I enjoyed. Instead, it drained me on a daily basis I had been running on empty for a long time. It’s not sustainable to love your job only 4 months out of the year.
Once I made the decision to leave in January I told of my boss. He respected my decision, but didn’t agree with it and took a moment or two every meeting to allow me to change my mind. I have the utmost respect for my boss – a man who demonstrates strong character both in his job and in his personal life. He has supported me in endless ways: creating a safe place to not be ok and cry about it, constantly reminding me I’m not as alone as I think I am, setting my focus back on God and off of the project or deadline I’m stressed about, seeing the potential of greatness in me before I saw it, and giving me space and time to discover that what I can do and what I like to do are not always the same thing.
I’ve grown to view my department like family, each of us encouraging, competing, arguing, and jeering one another on a daily basis. We’re kind of like the stage crew of a play – behind the scenes but an integral part of the final product. We don’t get the credit we all deserve, but we do it anyways because we believe in the bigger picture and love that we get to play a part in making it happen. While most people don’t know or understand all that we do, we have each other who knows the hard work this job is.
Last week I wrote a short message to every single one of our partners in Europe, informing each one I was leaving after 2 1/2 years, that I had full faith in God’s plan for my life, and I had full confidence in Sydney, who is taking over for me. I’ve been overwhelmed with the responses from each partner… sad to see me ago, excited for what’s next, and offering me a place to stay next time I’m in their country. Saying goodbye to them was harder than I thought it would be, and seeing each response of reciprocated love and thankfulness encourages me that I made a difference – in my role and as one person connecting to another person.
I spent almost 10 hours training Sydney in her new role. I didn’t realize I had so much to say until I spent 2 1/2 hours giving an overview of Europe and the job. I literally cried on my way to work one morning, overwhelmed with the evidence I had a lot more inside than I originally believed. Country by country, relationship by relationship, I explained culture, spiritual climate, funny stories, and plans I had for 3 years from now. As I explained each piece, it was as if I was pulling a gem out of a sack, holding it the light and sharing all the memories attached to it, then handing it to Sydney and repeating the process. 6 hours later, I saw I was more than that burlap sack and I’d been unaware I had been collecting jewels. This truth literally brought me to tears in my car, as I accepted it as fact and grieved the years I didn’t believe it.
To me, this is more than just goodbye because it was more than just a job. It feels like a breakup because it wasn’t a mutual break and one of us is moving on. We can still be friends, but it will never be the same. I’m not leaving on bad terms and I wish them all the best. I just can’t be a part of it anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.
My decision came as a collection of conversations, verbal processing, praying, doubting, crying, and faith. I knew close to no one in Seattle and I didn’t have a job when I made my decision. Since then, I’ve connected with more people than I thought I knew, found a place to live for a lot less than I thought I would pay, lined up a few interviews, and partnered with a close friend to road trip from Atlanta to Seattle. I feel free, confident, and full of hope for the future.
I greatly appreciate your support in this 3 year journey. Thank you doesn’t explain the depth of my gratitude. You were a part of something bigger than just you or me. You were a part of sending thousands of people all over the world each year, transforming cities, villages, and the hearts of thousands more.