Post by Kendria Smith
When I graduated from Syracuse University in spring of 2004, I had a liberal arts degree and no plan. There were no blueprints for how I was to design a successful, independent, post undergraduate existence. Of course, I received tons of well-intentioned, often unsolicited advice from loved ones, including my mother who saw my trepidation to this newfound independence and urgently "suggested" that I join the military…
So I did what many new grads with nearly a dime to their name and zero life experience to draw from have done.
I moved to New York City.
Why? Well, why not? It just felt like the right thing to do. New York is the city that never sleeps and the land of opportunity. If you hang around long enough you are bound to find your path, your people, your place, right? And so I did. I told myself, "Just give it five years." That's all I would need to build a successful career, meet the man of my dreams and purchase a condo in a luxury high-rise in midtown.
Twelve years flew by! Although spending most of my time as a single, administrative assistant living in a five-floor walkup on the Upper East Side wasn't exactly the life I envisioned for myself as a 21 year-old, God had provided me with a secure job, a strong sisterhood of friends, and a loving church community. The places I had traveled, people I met and experience I gained in more than a decade was beyond my expectations, but by the start of 2016 I had become restless. Nothing was really wrong per se but after a week of prayer and fasting, I realized that after 12 years I had become COMFORTABLE.
My prayer for God to change me and use me in a greater way set off a chain of actions that within a few months made it clear to me that doors were closing and my time in New York City was coming to an end. But I was no longer a young, invincible graduate with the world at her finger tips!
I may have experienced challenges here and there, but in the last 12 years I had built a pretty good life for myself. Now, in my mid-thirties, I had become older, wiser and a lot more fearful! How do I begin again?
Put Prayer Before People
When I decided to leave New York and move to Nashville, Tennessee you could only imagine the response of shock and confusion I received from well-meaning friends and relatives. You would have thought moving south was synonymous to moving to another planet. The only way I could combat all the noise and remain steadfast to the steps God wanted me to take was to stay in prayer and drown out the voice of fear and doubt. Was I 100% certain that I was making the right decision? No! But did I believe that God was going to redirect me if I made a misstep? Yes!
His Word is very clear-
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Pray for What You Expect, Not What You Experience
Pray for what is to come. I'll be honest-- this may take a bit of creativity. In order to remain hopeful for the future, I started researching my new city and created a Pinterest board of cool places I wanted to visit, the kind of car I wanted to drive, color-schemes and decor for my new apartment, and local, scenic wedding venues I could imagine myself being married in one day. I guess this was my version of "professing life to the dry bones" and speaking reality where it did not already exist.
"Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." Ezekiel 37:4-5
Pray Patiently and Continuously
Although, I made the decision to move out of New York and start a new life in Nashville, it took four months to actually come to fruition. Within that time, there were many days when I felt like I was making the wrong decision, did not see any progress and could not understand how God's plan was going to come together. I was able to secure an apartment in Nashville three weeks before moving but I left New York at the end of July with no job prospects and not much savings to survive on.
Through each step of faith there was prayer, prayer and even more prayer as I finally made the move and saw doors open for job interviews, a new car within my budget, a local church that felt like home and a small group that provided encouragement and much needed guidance, as I acclimated to my new environment.
Was this new season of my life perfect? No, life never will be. But God reminds me every day of how He used my little mustard seed faith, nourished by prayer, to see His plan to fruition. If we follow 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 commands to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances," we open the door for discernment, peace and favor, and there is no telling where that can lead us too!
Is fear keeping you from living the fruitful life God has planned for you?