When You Know It’s Not A Coincidence

When You Know It’s Not A Coincidence

25 days. Count them. Watch them slip through your fingers like water.

25 days will not last forever. Your life here will not last forever. Family dinners, family jokes, family movie nights will not last forever.

You are leaving. You are leaving the room where you grew up, the room with clothes and books strewn in piles on the floor, the room where you don’t have to share anything. You are leaving your cozy bed and your bookshelves and your art on the walls.

In 25 days you will pack your things and move into a new room with a new friend. You will start a new life at a new school. Colby College is waiting for you, hopefully with a good on-campus job and the classes you requested. But you don’t know. You have no way of knowing now, and the information comes slowly, and the pieces are fitting together even more slowly, and you just aren’t ready yet.

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In 25 days you will get to define yourself again. You will be the quiet girl at first; you can’t help that. But you hope you will be known as the wise one, the kind one, the one people go to when they feel things inside them are falling apart and they need someone to listen. You will be the one to listen. You hope you will be known as the one who smiles at everyone. There are old identities you hope to shed, at least mostly. The cynical one. The anti-church one. The standoffish one.

And you hope the old labels don’t introduce themselves right away. Homeschooler. Christian. The things that make people look at you funny. The things that make people change the way they speak to you.

You would like to be healthy and motivated and confident. You would like to be engaging. You would like to be a woman who shows other women that they are capable and valuable and free to be how God created them. You want them to understand what makes them who they are, how they can live brave and take care of themselves and stop listening to other people’s expectations.

And you would like to be the girl who knows that her Abba loves her. Who can love people without expecting them to be more or different, because that’s how her Abba loves them, too.

Abba. The word has become like breath to you, on your lips all day long. Abba. You pray it over and over as you start to forget, as you start to worry, as you start to feel the fear and brokenness rising up in you again. What if I’m not loved? What if I’m forgotten? What if I’m not enough? Abba, Abba, Abba.

The word is new to you and you didn’t realize how it would change you. Before, you said Lord. You thought of Jesus. God scared you; you did not think your thoughts or prayers could be good enough, with all their anger and struggle and hurt.

But then you started praying to Abba. Abba, your loving Father, your Daddy.

And when you pray it, something inside you stills.

You’re seeing your Abba more and more in your life. At first it was the call to sponsorship. You dreamed of serving in Africa, but not now. Not yet. You had to go to college like He asked, and you knew college students are broke, and your family was broker than all the rest, so how would you sponsor? How would you know next month there would be enough money in the bank, and the next, and the next, until a child grew up and didn’t need your help anymore? It takes years for a child to grow up, more years than it would take for you to graduate college, go to Africa, maybe even get married and have your own kids.

And then he showed you a little four-year-old girl in Ghana with your name. Your heart wrenched for her, but four was too young. Fourteen years to adulthood was too long. And how much money was that exactly?

Your Abba made you look back, and you realized. He had always provided more than enough. You’ve been saving for as long as you can remember, saving and hoarding for the day you’d need a car or a plane ticket or college tuition. The number in your bank account had grown slowly, but He’d stepped in before you needed to use it.

Remember Iowa? The writing camp cost over two thousand dollars including a plane ticket. You didn’t know how you would ever get that much money. With doubts in your heart, holding your hopes back, you asked your friends and family to help. So many people offered so much money that you had to turn some away. You went to camp without spending a dollar from your own pocket.

Remember the car? A friend gave you an envelope with more money that you could ever ask for, God telling them to give you the money for a car. You weren’t even in the market yet, but you knew then that God had a plan and a car out there and it would come in his timing, and you would have enough.

Remember college? Colby funded your tuition, room, board, food, the works—completely, and you were humbled, and your precious small bank account, the one you’d worked so hard to plan and to build, was untouched.

Abba had always provided. Not just enough, but more than enough. You knew he would provide for this little girl with your name too.

You looked at her picture and you realized. Her dress was almost exactly like a dress you wore onstage this year, a red-checked little girls’ frock. Yours had been handmade; you had not picked the fabric or the pattern. Hers had been purchased half a world away. And with Abba, there are no coincidences.

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You prayed for 24 hours and then you took the leap and sponsored the child. And you praised God for the door he’d opened in Africa, the door he’d opened in your heart.

The next week, your roommate assignment came in your email. You squealed and clicked on the link and sat in stunned amazement.

Your roommate was from Zimbabwe. Africa. Right above South Africa, right above where you’d dreamed of going for years. You sat there and wondered if God had provided this too. You hadn’t mentioned your love of Africa anywhere in your roommate application. You hadn’t mentioned your beliefs, either, only that you slept certain hours and maintained a certain level of cleanliness and needed quiet sometimes.

And you emailed your new African friend and you discovered something that had seemed impossible in a liberal school like this. Your roommate was a Christian, too. And she had prayed to have a Christian roommate. God answered her prayer, and the prayer you hadn’t even asked.

25 days and everything will change, but you know your Abba goes with you, and he has prepared this way for you.

People ask you why you picked Colby. There are practical reasons, like money and the creative writing program, but there are reasons you can’t define too. Like how the summer before your senior year, you changed your mind about college. During that camp in Iowa, alone on campus, you realized you could do it. And when you set foot on Colby’s campus, a school you hadn’t even considered, a school you met by seeming coincidence, you fell in love. You came home in awe, describing all the programs and people and perspectives.

You researched over 75 schools, but you always came back to this one. It didn’t have a creative writing major like you wanted, but it had everything else, and it wasn’t too far from home. (Slowly, you realized a creative writing major might not be best after all.) So you applied Early Decision. You knew that if God was for you, not a single one of those admission officers could be against you.

And you were accepted.

Later, when you met the dean of admissions, he remembered your name. “You’re the girl who went to the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio, right?”

You were floored and nodded your head yes, wondering if that was why you were accepted, if that camp you’d stumbled upon through an internet search and had only attended by God’s grace was the very reason you were here today.

But you still weren’t sure. You were still afraid. You struggled and wrestled and wondered how four years at school could be God’s plan for your life when it seemed like a pause button on all the bigger things. Family. Relationships. Missions.

And as you worried, He spoke. I want you to trust.

Okay, Lord, but am I doing the right thing going to Colby?

The answer felt resounding, and yet it was the comfort you needed. Haven’t I made it clear?

Yes, you breathed, humbled.

Then go.

And now you’re going. You wonder how it came so fast. You wonder if you’re ready. But you know who’s on your side.

Your heart has broken recently and that simple prayer, Abba, has kept you afloat. He has kept using you, kept giving you work to do, kept putting people in your life. You see that the chance encounters are not random. That you are becoming the person he has made you to be, that he is using you to encourage others even now. The work he has given you is important.

Your first book will come out in January. You can hardly believe the words. January! Your book! It is the summer before college and you are using it to co-author a novella. Through your author friends, Abba dropped the opportunity right into your lap. You were afraid, but you stepped forward and took it anyway. And now it’s coming together. You’re only a few thousand words from the goal. You have a title and a plot and an almost-release-date.

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And before you sit down to write, you pray. Let these words touch people. Let these words speak life. Let these words empower. Give me the words you want to say.

You don’t know what the words will be, you don’t know what impact the words will have, but you know God called you to this. And you know he hasn’t stopped working in your life and all the lives you touch.

You can’t wait to see things fall into place—to see what else He will work through this new life he has provided.


5 thoughts on “When You Know It’s Not A Coincidence

  1. Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAVE SO MUCH FUN AT COLBY!!! Thanks for sharing these blog posts, keep running the race! It’s so nice to be on the sidelines holding up encouraging signs and talking about how awesome you are.

  2. I was trying not to cry in the gymnastics waiting room. I was not completely successful.
    I am SO excited for you and all that Colby has to offer. Yay for answered prayers!

  3. That is so exciting! Thanks for the encouraging stories- your story. I’ve been struggling off and on with where I am, looking sideways at what God is doing with others’ stories, and looking back over my own and seeing His provision and guidance again is such a good reminder. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Congratulations Tori on your new endeavors! Thank you for sharing your story! Your writing is so honest, encouraging, and inspiring! Blessings!

  5. Margaret, I don’t know you, but I empathize with your struggle. I have bipolar and BPD and I’m in recover from a binge-eating disorder and self-injury. I recently left organized religion for a billion of reasons, but I feel like Jesus is the only thing that can keep me joyful, keep me moving forward. I’d love to connect with you!

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