The past 8 months has been the most up-in-the-air season of my entire life. I have moved from Swanzey, NH to Los Angeles, CA and now I’m currently in Denver, CO.
I’m used to moving a lot. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. In fact, I’ve never lived some place longer than 5 years. I have a hard time staying.
But my dad has said since I was a little kid, “I don’t think God is a God who wants all of us to stay. Sometimes people are called to move around. There are tons of people in the Bible who moved often. And God used them.”
Making decisions has always been hard for me. We make 70 decisions daily in our conscious mind and some of them matter for a minute when you’re in line at Starbucks and some last a lifetime, like who you’re going to marry. They don’t just matter for today, they matter for tomorrow and they don’t just matter for you, they matter for others as well. And that weighs heavy on me.
But I’m going to tell you about a decision I made that I knew 110% I was making correctly. And that decision was to do the ministry internship at Pilgrim Pines from 2015-2016.
I met Jim Condap at the annual Midwinter Conference for the Evangelical Covenant Church back in 2014. I was a Junior in college, just following Pastor Judy around all week and we bumped into Jim. This interaction came at a time that I was feeling that ‘up-in-the-air’ feeling (I’m beginning to think this is actually my comfortable feeling because I feel this unsettling way too often). Jim said to me, “Well, whenever you’re ready, we’d love to have you on the East Coast.”
After one of the sessions, I was really shaken and felt a stirring in me. That night I sat in the lobby of this hotel with Joel Brand, who was currently serving on ministry staff at Pilgrim Pines in New Hampshire. We talked about taking time off from school and the silence and the lake and the good, good people and my heart was sold on this “Pilgrim Pines” place.
And because my dad is my dad and because I think he is the wisest person in the world, I postponed dropping out of school to go out east and instead, applied for summer staff after my senior year.
And within a month of experiencing the east coast for the first time ever, I decided to stay at Pilgrim Pines for the next year.
Here’s how I know I made the right decision: It was ridiculously hard to be at Pilgrim Pines.
I cried so much in the first month after summer was over. What have I done, God? My family is a million miles away. This town is so small. I don’t feel called to be here. I want to move.
But I kept walking around the lake and I remember talking to Joel again on the phone one time while I was walking around the lake in late October and it was starting to get pretty cold. He said, “I told you I had a hard time at first and it was really lonely but you have to find your people. Who are some people in your community that you can reach out to and choose them as your ‘pseudofamily?”
And when I talked to Judy that same week about wanting to leave, she said the same thing. “Find your people. Even if that means driving to Boston two times a month to spend time with a pastor there or a family there.”
So I did. I found a family in Boston that I could hang out with every so often, AND I found a church in Keene that met on Sunday nights so I could go!
And I was crying less and started to feel like I belonged on the East Coast. I met a really cool discipleship pastor in Boston and he helped walk me through a little of this messiness.
By January, I had gone from surviving to THRIVING. I was heading up the youth retreats and Jim even asked me to be the speaker for our Trailblazer weekend. I had finally started to understand my purpose and plan that God had set before me.
It was in this season that I thought to myself, How did I ever doubt that this was a bad decision? It’s exactly where God wanted me to be.
Oh, how Pilgrim Pines poured into me when I finally let it.
We make decisions because we have visions for our lives. My vision when moving to Pilgrim Pines was to discover my calling and where I wanted to go in life. Did I figure that out? No. But I did learn more about who I was and what I wanted out of life.
Proverbs 4:5 says “Get wisdom. Get understanding.” And I believe so much of my year at camp was spent getting wisdom and understanding. It’s free to us, wisdom is. But it might cost us something. And then I love in Proverbs 4, verse 13 where it says, “When you have wisdom, when you walk, your steps will not be hampered. When you run, you will not stumble.”
I notice looking back on that time of my life that when I started to get wisdom and understanding about my life, I began to run better and walk without being stopped in my faith. I THRIVED.
Pilgrim Pines has shaped and molded me in ways that only that place could and I’m so thankful for the people who continuously pour into Pilgrim Pines so that Pilgrim Pines can pour into others.