Climbing into the Unknown
“My word for this year is ‘Journey.’ I know there’s a lot of doors to be closed, which are hard–and doors to be opened, which are fun. My journey is waiting to figure out what each step is supposed to be.
Expectations. We all have them. Either they make our pulse beat faster in anticipation, or they suck the life out of us. Some come with delight; others come with dread. In most cases, they both come with temptation – temptation to act upon them in our own wisdom.
I sat across from Brittany, a soon-to-be university grad. Her bright blue eyes danced as she relayed what God was doing in her life and the journey she was on. They not only danced with life, but they also held a deep and quiet wisdom.
Most grads would expect the world at their doorstep. Diploma? Check. Career path opportunities? Check. Brittany had all that going for her and more. But there was one box she was not willing to check for herself: what her own plans were for her future.
Looking at the intelligent, gifted, and competitive young woman before me, I became curious. I settled back to hear her story.
Before she was born, her parents gave birth to her sister Ashley who was born prematurely and died. This tragedy occurred just days after her mom’s nephew was born prematurely with birth defects and who also died. Since Brittany’s dad grew up in a church where he was screamed at, he viewed their loss as God’s hatred of him, and turned his back on God. Her mom, on the other hand, came from a good church experience growing up, but became rebellious. Going to church wasn’t a priority for her parents. Once Brittany and her brother were born, however, they began attending church—but only at Christmas and Easter.
“As a kid I grew up knowing there was a God, and we had our night-time prayer, you know, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Blah, blah, blah.’ My relationship to God was kinda like, ‘Oh, He’s in Heaven where my sister is,’” she admitted.
It wasn’t until later, in her sophomore year of high school, that God became real. “I was invited to Young Life by a friend and went to Fall Weekend where I was hit by the message. I decided to commit my life to Christ right then and there. When I came back, I lost all my friends.” Brittany’s eyes misted up and her voice cracked as she spoke, not because of what she had just shared, but because of what she would share next.
By mid November 2009, her brother became so rebellious her parents gave him an ultimatum: either straighten up or move out. Although they would still support him, he could no longer live at home. “My brother called us on New Year’s Day, crying and depressed after a New Year’s Eve Party incident. My dad said, ‘Just come on home.’ As a result of a big ice storm, we had a power outage for a few days, so we all stayed inside and just played board games. We went to church that Sunday and my brother came…”
Brittany’s voice cracked, betraying deep emotion. After composing herself, she whispered an apology – “I’m sorry; I get more emotional about my brother than about myself.” She and her parents had been attending Apex because some Young Life friends came here and invited her. “The message that day was on the prodigal son,” she shared, “and my brother was very struck by it. We were all in the balcony standing there, and then I saw him just walk down the stairs. Of course we all followed him. He committed his life to the Lord on January 4, 2009.”
Two months later, on March 15th, Brittany and her brother both got baptized. Her Dad counts that day as when he truly came into a relationship with God himself, experiencing an unexplainable and overwhelming joy in his heart. From that point on, their family began growing together in the Lord.
Through her experiences in Young life, Brittany learned how to live her faith and show Christ to others around her. “One thing I was taught in Young Life was, ‘Missions is wherever you are.’ I was on the cheerleading squad at Fairmont, and really made a point to be a good influence to my squad and to those around me in my classes.”
Upon graduating high school, Brittany became a Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) sorority member at WSU and continued to be salt and light to those around her. “Over the last four years, I’ve had some good conversations and I’ve had some bad conversations,” she laughed. “But hopefully I’ve helped people and shown them that just because you’re a Christian it doesn’t mean you have to be boring. I feel that’s what a lot of them think – that you can only have fun if you drink. It becomes a problem when people think they have to have an alcoholic drink in their hand in order for them to smile.”
Brittany graduates in May with a degree in marketing, and because of a co-op while at WSU, she has a job offer to help her pay her bills with the understanding that she should keep challenging herself and find something that better fits her many strengths and passions. When asked about her dream job, she replied it would be the Event Community Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts – working with the community and getting them involved.
“I really enjoy working with people, that’s why I chose marketing over accounting—and I like being challenged.” And she loves competition – bettering herself, others, and organizations around her. Sprinkled in with all of that is her passion for Orphan Care. “Over the past four years, I’ve gone on missions trips with Back2Back ministry – one in which I was an intern for two months,” she shared, and showed me a picture of little 9 year old Leti, an orphan girl in Mexico she has been sponsoring for the last three years.
When asked where she is in her journey with what God would have her do post-college, she replied, “I’m still finding my way,” and equated it to rock climbing (one of her many sports).
“Although I see where I eventually want to go, I’m only able to see what’s exactly in front of me. I can only go one handhold or one step at a time, really. And possibly half way through I’ll get up there and find I need to go to the right and not to the left like I originally planned. Or there may be bugs, like a nest full of bees that I may have to go around.
I can only go one step at a time on this journey. I see that internship with the Colts and I took the step to apply–but is that step one I should take if the job is offered to me? I can’t know five steps ahead of me; I can only do with what’s in front of my rock right now,” she explained. And then she added, “I have one rule in rock climbing to challenge myself (usually while climbing on boulders): You can’t go down the way you came up. That’s because you already know one way’s safe – you can’t go back that way; that’s no fun.” She then talked about how she would find an alternate method, such as grabbing onto a limb and climbing down a tree instead.
Brittany paused, collecting her thoughts. “My word for this year is ‘Journey.’ I know there’s a lot of doors to be closed, which are hard–and doors to be opened, which are fun. My journey is waiting to figure out what each step is supposed to be. Just like when rock climbing you think, I’ll grab onto this handhold, but you have to test it. You don’t just grab on and keep going. You test it out. Will this actually hold me? Is this solid? Is it going to crumble before me? And sometimes it crumbles and you have to find another way. Sometimes it’s solid and you go that way. Sometimes you have to go back down and try a different way. And that’s my journey. Those handholds that crumble are not where God wants me necessarily.” Brittany smiled and her eyes danced once again. “You can only climb on the Solid Rock.”
And with that, Brittany continues her journey with God as she climbs into the unknown.
Author: Jackie Perseghetti