Charleston Like Chapstick

So remember a long long time ago when I blogged the first of a “series of posts” called Mediums and it was going to be about being responsible with the here’s and now’s we find ourselves in?

And then . . . nothing happened?

Well that was actually because a ton of stuff was happening. My here’s and now’s were jam-packed full of stuff that didn’t include writing follow-up blog posts.

So instead of delivering on what was going to be a really spiritually inspiring and impressively well-written blog post I promise you, I figured I’d give a personal update. I have a tendency to be vague on this blog because the whole interwebs reads it and I don’t want to air out too many specifics to folks who don’t even know me and let’s face it, might not even care. But I’ve got so many friends in every corner of the globe that have no idea what country I’m in anymore or what I’ve been up to. So we’ll consider this post my Christmas card update. Because I’m definitely too busy to send those out, shew.

Reuniting with the family.

Reuniting with the family.

In July I left Argentina without much of a plan. I intended to visit family, move in with my parents for a few months, and figure something out. To be honest I was exhausted. The previous weeks of fasting that ended in my decision to resign, followed by some terribly rushed goodbyes had taken their toll on me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. With no exaggeration, June 2013 goes down in the record books as possibly the darkest month in my 24 years of memory.

As the months have passed since my arriving at home, I’ve tried to make sense of God’s will for my time in Argentina and the series of events that lead to my leaving . . . and I still come up empty-handed. There is no easy, gift-wrapped bottom line or moral of the story, but that doesn’t mean the experience was meaningless. It was so full of meaning that to explain all that I learned from the experience would require a book’s worth of words. And even then, it would be brusquely imprecise and the perfectionist writer in me would forever be unsatisfied with it.

One lesson learned from my time in Argentina that I can speak to was the passion for ministry I acquired while I was there. I went to South America with the expectation that I’d fall in love with overseas missions and pursue that as a career path for my life. And while I was at it, maybe God would even tell me what country to go to and it would be happily ever after, no more searching. . . but I never got any of that. I did develop, however, a love of The Church in all of her imperfect glory. The countless connections I made with Christian brothers and sisters—Catholic, Evangelical, and everything in between—while surveying in the streets of Buenos Aires refreshed and encouraged me and taught me to love Christ’s bride a little better than I had been. So while I didn’t particularly learn that missions was the one and only path for my life, I did learn that ministry, particularly student ministry, was something into which I could pour my life.

So when I returned to the States in July, my only plans included visiting seminaries, applying to ministry jobs . . . and making some freaking friends. I grew up in Charleston, but I hadn’t lived there since high school. I felt like the new kid in my own hometown. Meanwhile, try as I might I couldn’t find a youth internship or college ministry position to save my life. Combine unemployment with having no friends and you know what you get? Sweatpants. Lots and lots of sweatpants.

But I found my exhausted self one Sunday morning visiting Awaken church, a young church plant in Charleston and I made two friends in the parking lot before I’d even made it in the door. And got myself invited to lunch to boot. And I may have told four different people I’d join their bible studies. (I might have overcommitted a little, that first Sunday.) Faster than I ever imagined possible, I found myself in a circle of friends who made Charleston really feel like home again.

It was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get that ministry job I’d hoped for—it would have prevented me from spending my Sundays at Awaken, where God has been slowly healing my tired spirit. In October, after nearly three months of handing my resume out to anyone who would take it, I got a job working at Carolina One Mortgage. I know nothing about mortgage banking or real estate, but somehow somebody thought I was qualified for the job. Seminary is definitely still in my plans, and this job seems like a great way to save and eventually pay for it. For now, I’m here and I’m happy.

The last five or six months have been hard and healing. Like the way chapstick burns on dry lips. I have doubted and struggled and questioned a lot. But I am learning that anything that draws me to worship and trust in God is a blessing, though it may not feel like it at the time. I spend most of my time feeling so young and unprepared for this big life I find myself in, but every now and then I stop and think about all these eyes have seen and the people that God has allowed in and out of my life in the past year. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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One thought on “Charleston Like Chapstick

  1. Beautiful, Kelsey.  Thank you for sharing your blog.

    ❤  Paige "Duffy" Lewis "Genius without education is like silver in the mine." — Benjamin Franklin "A distant, central government dictating every small decision in each town would result in poverty. The ultimate unit of government is the individual . . . He knows best his needs." — Thomas Jefferson

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