Jan. 8, 2010, I sat in a sparsely decorated living room in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was approaching 8 a.m., and I was waiting for my new furniture to arrive. I opened my laptop to write a few e-mails, some of them to people who may be reading this blog.
It had been my dream to live in New York City, but instead of finally feeling like I had achieved the ultimate, the feeling was that this dream was a last ditch effort to try and put my life back together. I was in the aftermath of a painful breakup that had left me heartbroken. The combination of what happened and constant replaying of things I could have done — and should have done — better left me emotionally exhausted. I very much shared the blame in what happened, but I was still crushed. And I felt like if this could happen the way it did, then maybe I really wasn’t worth much.
But that wasn’t all that was troubling me. I was stalled in my career, which definitely didn’t help my already fading self-esteem and purpose.
I had had a reliable job in the last few years, but it wasn’t a fit. Each day left me feeling more frustrated and unfulfilled, as I didn’t know what kind of job I should be aiming for.
Socially I felt alone. I had good friends back in Atlanta but still somehow felt isolated. I missed the community I had when I lived in Colorado Springs. I missed the friends that became family.
All of this created a perfect storm in my life, and physically it was taking its toll. I lost 47 pounds in six months. I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t focus on anything: work, a TV show, reading, nothing. And yet my mind wouldn’t shut down. Each day I was sentenced to thinking of that which I did not want to think about and hoping that maybe, just maybe, I would have a good day some day.
So there I was, that Friday in January, sitting in the partially empty apartment — waiting, not just for furniture, but for life. The bedroom set promptly arrived a few minutes later. Life, however, took a little longer.
Over the next few months I made friends, which was wonderful, but I still spent most of my days alone. My job allowed me to write from anywhere, so I’d wake up and take the train into midtown. I’d start writing at the library, and in the afternoon I would take a break and make the seven-block walk to Rockefeller Center where I’d camp out in the Starbucks in the basement level with a view of the skating rink. I’d open my laptop back up and get some more work done. When I was done for the day, I’d just walk around the city a bit. On an average day I’d walk roughly 60 blocks, which is about three miles. Some days I’d walk as much as 100 blocks. Then I’d go home and find a place where I could watch a baseball game while I ate dinner. And those were my days.
Some days it was very lonely, but in large part I think I needed that time. I needed time to think, as much as I didn’t want to. I needed time to retreat, be alone and talk to God. As a close friend in Colorado Springs said to me only recently, New York was my wilderness experience. And she was right.
Two months later I was sitting in church, and I heard a sermon that I blogged about on this site. Tim Keller preached on Isaiah 57:15, in which God promises to breathe new life into those who are crushed. For the first time in a while, I didn’t just hear a promise. I believed it. I felt it. And I walked out of church that night a different man. It didn’t mean I had put everything behind me instantly, but I now believed that it would be behind me and that God was preparing a future for me.
That future, as it turns out, was in the form of a person who would be visiting NYC just a few weeks later, and she had a smile that would change me forever.
In terms of my job, God has placed me in a position that I absolutely love now. I ended up moving back to Atlanta in August, so I could take on more responsibility in my position. In addition to writing radio programs, I now do voice-overs for them — something I never would have imagined. We’ve also begun work on a new youth curriculum, and while I still question why they saw anything in me, they’ve chosen me to be the host. As it turns out, my experiences have shaped my views and approach on life in such a way that has helped prepare me to be the kind of person they want addressing this material. Funny how God does that.
I’ve become much more at peace with where God wants me to go in my career, and I’m willing to be patient and do things in His timing.
As for the biggest part of the story — the girl with the smile — well, let me put it this way. As I mentioned, Jan. 8, 2010, I was in New York moving into an apartment. Well exactly 365 days later on Jan. 8, 2011, I was in New York again, this time on the first day of my honeymoon with my beautiful wife. Goes to show you never know what can happen in a year.