A few years ago after I started my new job, I came across this quote by Alice Sebold: "Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never knew you had." I had never heard it before, and yet it could not be more appropriate. You see, I had recently taken a job working at an all-girls school on the Westside in Los Angeles. When the opportunity first arose, I wasn't exactly jumping up and down. In fact, I didn't even finish the online application because I had never worked at a school before and didn't think they would take me seriously for that reason. Yet they called me. And kept calling me back for more interviews. Meanwhile, I was also concurrently interviewing with a digital media company as well, which seemed more up my alley of what I could see myself doing with my career path. I attended Veritas for the first time in the midst of this and came into the weekend with so much angst of indecision, what would I do, which direction would I take? Of course, going into a retreat trying to get specific answers has never worked for me, with God always answering my questions with different questions instead that get me to widen my perspective. I remember feeling a sense of worthiness before God for the first time on that retreat, and that was all I had with the job question mark still remaining once I returned home.
God, of course, made the decision crystal clear shortly after. The digital media job went to another highly qualified candidate, and the school extended me an offer. Every time I stepped onto the campus during the interviews, I felt as though I was being invited to explore further a world I did not know or understand. I had a significant misperception that students of single-sex schools were spoiled rich kids with no perspective on the realities of the world around them. To say that I was wrong was an understatement - here were girls that were so natural, kind, funny, poised, real. I negotiated and then finally accepted the offer, the night before I had a 10-day pilgrimage planned to Europe. Unlike previous pilgrimages where I was more touristy or trying to figure out some major life vocation question, I spent all my time lighting candles in gratitude. Not for the new job but for what it symbolized in my life - a deeper willingness to be open to God's working in my life. Upon returning home, I put in my two-week notice at my old job, looked for a new place to live in the same timeframe, moved in, and started 2 Mondays later. School started a few days after that. And what theme did my boss, the Head of School, select for the year? Gratitude. Small moments of confirmation would continue to find their way to me even as I was still not entirely sure of this new path.
During this transition, I also ended up ending a serious relationship. Shortly after that, I figured it would be more practical to stop renting in the crazy Los Angeles market and try to buy something. I was in escrow on a condo, and yet something did not feel right. When I came for the inspection, as bad as I felt to my realtor, I told her that I had to withdraw. I felt that I was doing it for the wrong reasons, to prove to the world that I had something. I decided instead to continue renting and moved to a neighborhood that would nourish my creative, adventurous side for one, maybe two years max, and then potentially look again.
What motivated me this time was to start thinking specifically about my niece and nephew, Emalyn and Evan. Perhaps I could help invest towards something for their future. I had never thought that far and for a reason like that before. Oh, but the real estate market was still so competitive. Would I ever be able to find something affordable? Within my budget? Should I wait until getting married? Am I doing this for the right reasons this time around? Am I running towards or away from something? Do I want to commit to something like this? Am I going to become a cat lady forever if I do this? Through continuous prayer and discernment and with the help of spiritual direction, I felt God saying that He would find a home for me. I gave myself a reasonable amount of time so as not to rush, and became open to the possibility of just staying put indefinitely as well if that was better.
After a few attempts at different places, I ended up being able to land at a place that in so many ways, clearly God found and designed for me. The moment that I said "Yes," I felt a surge of joy unlike any I had experienced in my life to date. The other side of fear was so palpably unbelievable. Sure, one could label me as "adulting" now and similar terms, but ultimately like the job, it's not the home but what it symbolizes - an invitation to step more and more deeply into a flow, into a new world of possibility, of expansiveness well beyond my understanding. Through the crazy escrow process, I felt God intimating, "My love for you is so much stronger than what you perceive as your faults and failings." To me, this is a pure gift from God. For whatever reason, He deems me worthy of it, and it is a fuller learning on my part to keep my hands open, not fists clenched, to receive, and to multiply that forth by sharing this beautiful gift with others as we continue to journey together. I pack this week and move in this coming weekend. Several weeks after that I'll be joining Fr. Tri and a group on the Camino pilgrimage. At this point, I can't even keep up with God. I used to wonder why He was taking so long when I am reminded yet again, truly He was waiting for me. Making space to be present to what's possible clearly takes us beyond anything we could ever imagine.
Quyen Nhi Ngo