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In Spite of The Fear (Or, that one time I slept in LaGuardia)

And my lungs hurt and my ears bled
With the sound of the city life echoed in my head
Do I need this to keep me alive?
The traffic stops and starts but I need to move along
London calls me a stranger
This is not my home, my home

The City, Ed Sheeran

 One has a lot of fears coming to NYC. Most chiefly for me was, not to be homeless. To feel safe. Having the things important to me feel safe. I came to NYC for a week, not completely on a whim. More like a prayer. To see if I could indeed live here. To see about getting a job. Which is hard. People in NYC don’t want to hire you when you don’t live here.

So I bought a one way ticket, and hopped on a plane. I had a place to stay for a few days out of the week, a stay which didn’t start until the day after I was supposed to arrive. Oops.
I mulled this over for a while. I could beg and borrow from others I knew…

Or take a crazy chance to face some fears. As you’ll remember from the last post, I’ve got some. Afraid all the time, actually.

Fears: be homeless. Get stabbed, or snatched, or mobbed by homeless people. Almost completely irrational. But I’m a girl. That’s how it goes.

So that night, as I flew into NYC alone, I decided.

I would sleep in LaGuardia. People sleep in airports all the time, right? Not certainly by choice, but they do. I would take it one step further, and shack up in the baggage claim. Not the nice comfy safe terminals. (Plus I had checked bags, I had to rescue them.) In my ridiculousness, I figured, if I could last one night in the baggage claim of LaGuardia, I would be all right to stay and live in NYC.

I am not as smart as this guy. That tent is genius.

This is what despair looks like.

Long story short, I did it. I managed to sleep for a while, but one too many creepy shuffling dudes did me in, and I ended up watching some Netflix on my phone, waiting in vain for the morning hours. But I did it. (Ask me the story over coffee sometime, and do yourself a favor by googling images of ‘sleeping in airport’. Some complete gems.)

Essentially, sleeping in LaGuardia became my moment of overcoming. The moment that I could look back and say, whatever happens, I know at least, that I can do that. One time I can look back and say, “Here. Here is where I overcame. I can make it through.”

That’s what this whole journey is about though, isn’t it? Doing life in spite of the fear. Having the courage to run after what you should be running after.

Fear is a huge controlling factor in people’s lives. When it is hard and lonely and different, we crave the safety and comfort of things and places we know. But I didn’t leave for comfort. I left to grow, to be challenged.

Do we stop growing when things are comfortable? When they are easy? Or safe? Does the craving of the familiar mean that we are weak, and are dependent upon that comfort? Does that mean that we should strive to throw off that dependency?  What is the line between content and comfort? Have we confused them?

So many people say the opposite of fear is courage. Or that the opposite of fear is bravery, or action, or recklessness, or any of those other words that sound like you should strap on some leather bracers and grab a spear, ala Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

I’d say the opposite of fear is obedience. Someone I know once said, “Fear over obedience is a rejection of God’s goodness.” That God knows what is going on, and has a plan.

The comfort (friends/house/job/you name it) we’re afraid of leaving, is not really any comfort. The comfort is in the cross.  Jesus. That God’s plan and purpose is ultimately the best thing, and the small comforts on earth we crave are nothing compared to what God has in mind.

So here’s to the life of obedience in spite of the fear.

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The Fear

I’ve been worryin’ that my time is a little unclear
I’ve been worryin’ that I’m losing the ones I hold dear
I’ve been worryin’ that we all, live our lives, in the confines of fear

The Fear, Ben Howard

People (most often my family) express incredulity to my moving to NYC, asking, “Aren’t you scared? Isn’t there violence and isn’t it ridiculously expensive? And what are you going to do? Why would you do this?”

If I had to answer them, there would be a running theme similar to Bruce Banner, in the Avengers. Banner, having previously decided not to join the fight, finally shows up to join the action. Captain America says, “Doc… I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.”

Banner responds:

That’s my secret friends. I’m always afraid.
I came to NYC for a week, alone, staying with a family member for a bit, and then a complete stranger for the last few days.
Trying to find a job, trying to secure a place to live, all seemed impossible, or that the odds were stacked so highly against me, I was sure to fail.
I am always afraid.

When I started this adventure back in January, I had no idea what I hoped to expect. Mostly it was a lot of fear. First, I had to think, can I really leave Dallas? The place where all my friends have become family? The place where my actual family lives so close?

The place where there is awesome Mexican food? And tortillas and salsa and Freebirds? (the small consolation is that there is Chipotle in NYC. Although true Freebirds fans will know, it is a poor substitute.)

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How can I? How can I leave this comfy job that I’ve got? This comfy apartment that I have, that is way too big for the amount of rent I pay? The church that I moved to help build? The best friend of mine who pastors that place? How can I?

So much fear. Those are the questions that come out of fear. Questions that are more about comfort than a calling.
So, step by step, I processed following God through the fear, away from the comfort.


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NYC, the Onset

Who knew when I started this blog over 5 years ago I’d end up here.

Some thoughts as I jump into this…

HOLY. CRAP.

Also, Psalm 24:1. and John 15:5.

Only by God’s grace can I be here.

Today was filled with anxiety, sorrow, moments of peace and extreme gratefulness, and moments of high stress.
Over and over I say to myself; Just keep going. One foot in front of the other.
God will make the path clear. He is here, He goes before us.

—————————————–

Story: Day One

When I left this morning, I was filled with such anxiety and sorrow…. And then I got on the plane. I bought a ticket 2 days ago. Flying Southwest, I paid extra to get priority boarding. Because, by golly, I wanted my aisle seat. Long legs + short spaces = the crap. Got on, claimed an overhead bin like a ninja, and snagged my aisle seat close to the front like a boss. It’s the little things, I suppose.
Plane was filling up, some guy takes the window seat… proceeds to take pictures of his family sitting across the aisle. Weird, but, hey. He smells okay. (Which, if you didn’t know, was the definitive measurement of acceptable airline flying seat companions. You cannot sit next to McDougle who hasn’t showered in the last 48 hours.)
Almost full, no middle seat. Which again, if you didn’t know, is the appropriate time for a small pre-victory dance. Perhaps you’ll be spared! The plane is full, and no one is sitting next to you! Victory!
Alas, the seat got claimed. First by some dude, who then switched with his wife. It was at this point I should have known something was up. I should have put my headphones in, but gosh darnit if I’m not an extrovert. Strike up conversation with the plants. Wife looks at me, bit panicked.

“Thanks, I’m just worried. My daughter is sitting back there, by herself. I hope she doesn’t start crying.”

Me:…. “What, really? How old is she? Where at?” I started to say…’If you ask the steward folks, they usually ask if people traveling alone can switch to have 2 seats next to each other…’
When I realized, it was me. I started to ask the woman sitting next to her daughter if she wanted to switch with me.. which made no sense because we were both in aisle seats. Someone was going to have to take the middle seat. WIthout realizing what was coming out of my mouth, or even what was happening, I found myself saying..

“Sure, yeah, we can switch, I’ll just sit here….”

What? What the actual crap did I just say??? Did I just give up my hard won aisle seat?? To be scrunched next to picture dude and woman with a PC?

Before I knew it, I was in the middle.

And the woman next to her daughter? She was crying. Out of joy.

When we finally took off, I realized again, God was punching me in the face with, ‘it’s not about YOU. it’s about ME.’ Great reminder as I head into the city, where it can be all too easy to be self focused, instead of God focused.