• Ava Hoffman

Stuck on Purpose

When I moved to Michigan, I could not bear to call the place I was living “home.” It was not my home. Home for me is where my heart is, where my people are. We, as a family, decided to name the house, and my brother called it “The Shelter.” Why? Because a shelter is a temporary dwelling providing safety from the elements. The name stuck - we knew this would only be a temporary stop for me. How temporary we could have never guessed.

For the last two months, I have fought to build a life in East Lansing, Michigan. I was blessed to have a woman walk with me from almost day one. I pursued relationships, inside the church and inside the community. I went to connection group. I asked to serve and be used. I spent hours applying to jobs, desperately wanting to work and seeking work hard. And I waited patiently for God to move. For the pieces to fall into place, for relationships to form, to find my place in the church, in the workplace.

He did move. Powerfully. As only He can.

In the last two months, God has slowly caused my heart to no longer dream of school at Michigan State. He allowed a lack of response to my efforts to build relationships both inside and outside of the church. He allowed a strained living situation and shut every door to every job I applied to, interviewed for, and accepted.

And as those doors were being closed, both gently and forcefully, doors in different places were opening…timelines changed and accelerated. Other schooling options were presented and opened and better. Life took a new direction, and priorities shifted, and strangely, with the advent of a novel virus, my family was gifted more weeks together. All of us. For what may be the last time.

In a flood of clarity and confidence and knowledge one night, God simplified my thoughts and what had been muddy waters became transparent and clear. I sat on my bed, stunned. I was no longer called to be in Michigan. In that deluge of understanding, I knew. I knew I could leave Michigan…and my heart rejoiced. Oh, the peace that rushed through my being and overcame my soul!

So it is with great joy I announce that I have left Michigan permanently. As I packed all I could fit in my car one night, there was no hesitation. As I hopped in my car early in the morning, I let the few tears surfacing fall, and I briefly mourned. God has closed that chapter, and with sure steps, I walk into the next part of my story.

This does not dismiss the good I experienced in that place. There was good in Michigan! There is now a new friend and a lifelong friendship. I grew and matured alongside and with the guidance of a Godly woman. I was introduced to the best pie ever. I had my first cannoli and loved it! I had the opportunity to see God move powerfully in a spiritually dark city. I will be forever grateful for the good I was shown in East Lansing.

During the 10-hour drive home, I experienced something I had almost forgotten. Somewhere between the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, for the first time since I moved to Michigan, there was joy; and though I am grateful for the lessons I learned, I am also grateful to be brought out of that place.

Growth is painful. Change is hard. Being stuck somewhere is never an enjoyable experience. Being stuck somewhere I didn’t belong, though…that was a new kind of heart-wrenching. Being stuck allowed me to meet with God in a new way. It enabled God to move more in my life - more powerfully, move to transform and restore.

Being stuck in Michigan taught me to love a person when I didn’t want to. I learned to find the line between fighting for a relationship and sighing, letting it go. Sitting in the same place let me discover where my heart leans when it comes to church, my church family, where I see myself in the body of Christ, and what I desire inside that fellowship. I learned how to create a space and an atmosphere that invites five-hour conversations. I was reminded again of the sweetness of doing life together with a gal pal. Being stuck taught me how hurtful a lack of response to efforts to build relationship are, and I decided who I want to be as a friend to others. I was taught the importance of welcoming newcomers with open arms. I learned how much work job-hunting really is.

Friends, wherever God is, there will be good. It may be really hard to see it, but there is good.

Chapters do not have a predetermined standard. While the timing may not make sense currently, there does not have to be an understanding. Just as I was 100% certain in moving to Michigan, I am 100% sure of leaving.

God moves how He wants, when He wants, and where He wants. As I step into a new season of life, I celebrate the being stuck. I am grateful for a season of stuck. Let me encourage you. If this is a season of stuck for you, take heart! Seasons change. Be intent on living well where you are, despite the difficulty and the heart-wrenching questions. Seek God hard - He is there. Know there is purpose in that place. Look for the good, friends. Be intentional and be brave.

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