Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Nancy Center
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Some rarified folks arrive in adulthood with the belief intact that interior design/dolphin training/product photography is a viable career choice. But most of us along the way, decide we need to be practical. So, we squeeze behind a cubical desk and daydream from 9:00-5:00 of stringing paperclips into a noose and wondering if a sprinkler head could support our weight. Or maybe that's just me. 

A year ago last spring we were building a house, and my husband and i were each commuting 90 minutes a day, on different schedules, to and from the same paperclip noose place. Since there was no time for anything extraneous, such as caring for our children or speaking to each other, i decided something had to give. The only thing i could see to cut was the photography business i ran on the weekends. So, i began to prayerfully consider closing my doors and fully committing to the soul-crushing, paperclip place. My decision was pretty much made since too much was slipping through the cracks: doctors appointments were being missed, family believed me to be dead or missing. i've always believed you really can do it all, you just sleep less or play less or contribute less. It's shameful, now, to see that in print. 

Fortunately, i finally realized there was no amount of "less" to give. So i spent a few weeks of focused prayer, expecting in the end to shut the doors of my photography business. And in the meantime, we continued to build this house, making changes where we saw fit, changing the Amityville Horror windows to squares, trading a closet for the world's smallest bathroom, and modifying the back porch into a sunroom. It was here, in the sunroom, amidst the sawdust and drywall, that my eyes and mind were opened to the realization: I had unwittingly built the perfect lightbox. It was a soul-stirring moment, and i felt as if God were turning me 180 degrees from the path where my own wisdom was leading me. 

It was such a moment of clarity amidst the noise that i spent the next year following the path as it emerged, one step at a time. It was an awe-inspiring moment, which thankfully, caused me to remember and obey, although more dutifully than joyfully. i believed God would reward the response, but also considered Him to be rather slow,  according to my fast-food American-style timeline. i thought in the end i may get fries with that, but wasn't sure i'd have any teeth left to chew them. 

In January, in the spirit of All Things New and Improved, business goals were added to the calendar. If God wants me to do this, then i should DO THIS. Dates were predicted that high school seniors should start knocking on my door and Friday, June 2, was determined to be the day i'd begin running this business full time. Then using my mad math skills, i counted backwards 14 days and circled May 19 on my calendar as the day i'd give my 2-week notice to the paperclip noose place. These were all very lofty goals - and they all came directly from me. 

As Winter warmed into Spring, my feet began getting cold. The pressure of a looming goal and the thought of giving up a steady salary caused me to think twice about my too-big goal...God didn't actually tell me to quit the cube farm...He just guided me to keep taking, i scratched out the goals on my calendar and decided the timing wasn't right. Who knows how long God will take to do...whatever it is He's doing here. 

As it turns out, His timing was a week faster than mine, and i think the roadblock was me. Morale had gotten bad all around at the paperclip noose place and the employees were, and still are, feeling the strain. So much so that i stopped my car 2 days in a row on the way to work and pulled over to pray. i called my boss both days and told him to mark me absent, something that's frowned upon everywhere, but is grounds for termination at the paperclip place. 

And then i just prayed. All day, both days. i called my husband, asked him to pray and give his opinion of me quitting the day job and running this photography business for real. And he gave me his blessing. 

I asked my friends to pray and texted every prayer warrior i knew and asked them to do the same. 

And finally, i asked my parents to pray. For once i didn't consider myself too busy to spend time with them and went to their house for advice. I've always been a headstrong, know-it-all brat and independent with my parents to a fault. Why it took me 46-years to humbly seek their counsel is inexplicable to me now. My dad looked me right in the eye and said, "I know you can do this. We believe in you, baby. You're braver than i am, but i think you can do it." My strong mother, who is being robbed by dementia, was remarkably present and clear that day: "We're so proud of you, darling, and if you're not happy with what you're doing, then yeah! Change it. Life's too short." This was not the advice i grew up hearing, and maybe it was because i'd never really listened before...I kept waiting for someone to say NO. For my supportive husband to say, we can't give up half of our salary, for friends to say, WHAT. THE HECK. For my parents to say we could lose the house we just built. 

Everyone prayed. Everyone supported. Everyone received peace, including me. 

And so, i turned in my notice to the paperclip place, a week and a half ahead of my schedule. And i realized maybe, it's not God who was slow in this after all. Thankfully He showed more patience and faith with me than i did with Him. I'm trying to listen more now, trying desperately to keep the seeking posture that got me here, although it's so contrary to my instinct to be contrary. i'm starting to dream again, too, and realizing that it's enough for some of our dream jobs as kids to be lifelong hobbies. i'll probably always be decorating my space for fun, and it looks like i'll be taking pictures for food. And secretly...dolphin training is going back onto the list just in case...