I received an email today in response to a resume I sent off yesterday informing me that of the over 130 applicants for this particular position, I was not selected for an interview. It's gotten to the point where this doesn't surprise me, and it doesn't even make me sad. It just is.
Someone asked me the other day, when I said I wanted to stay in Portland, if I was truly open to whatever God had for me, whatever role, whatever location. I didn't exactly take offense to the question, but I find it odd that anyone would assume that choosing to stay in one place and being open to God's leading would be mutually exclusive. I have always been open to God's leading for my life, and if there's one area He has always been clear about, it has been my home, whether it be temporary or permanent. I truly feel that I am called to be in Portland right now, job or no job. The fact that I am not looking for jobs nationwide is not a denial of God's direction--it is actually in response to it.
Every time I have moved, I have known it was time to go before I knew where I was headed. And every time I have moved, God has placed the location in front of me without ambiguity. The situations may not have always worked out the way I envisioned or hoped, but I have been in the right place at the right time. I think of my semester in Dublin, after graduating Linfield. I found swiftly that I did not like the city. The internship with the Irish Film Institute didn't turn into any sexy job prospects, and I didn't meet anyone who was going to whisk me away and show me an entirely new and entirely thrilling life.
But I shared a house with four other girls in Spencer Dock, and I was surrounded by kids who were incredible, some of whom I am still in touch with today. I came home from work every day to at least three kids on my doorstep, who would talk to me and share with me, often until after dark. I don't miss Dublin in the least, but I do miss them. And I know I was in that house for that short time for a purpose.
Being here feels similar. I love this city more than I ever have another (except maybe Galway, maybe...). I have never felt more at home in a place, and I have never felt more potential for growth than I do right now. Yes, hunting for a job is tiring, demoralizing and depressing. But being in this city and being unemployed has given me the opportunity and availability to have conversations I could not have dreamt up, and to be involved with ministries I would otherwise have to leave behind.
There are, of course, things I don't love about Portland. I hate how divided the city can feel, how important your neighborhood is to your social standing, and how some types of people have come to represent the whole of Portland (if you're unsure, pay attention to the type of thing someone says is "so Portland"--it will invariably be something hipsterish and slightly wacky, as if hipsters are the only people who live in the city.). But being here makes me feel alive, makes me feel like life is in motion and reminds me daily that God, and not Heather, is in control. When the time comes for me to leave Portland, I believe I will know. It may be soon, or it may not be for many, many years. But I know that when I leave this city, it will not be to seek greener pastures or because life doesn't seem to be working according to my own plan. It will be because God has made it clear that my time in Portland is finished, at least for a time, and He has something new in store. I might not know exactly what that is right away, but I know that His guidance will be clear, and will not be tainted by my own hopes and fears.
And again, I feel like that's a good place to be.