Buckling Under Pressure

The following is my submission to a writing contest. The submissions had to have the lead line of “In many ways it made perfect sense…”, be between 700 – 1000 words, and be awesome. Two out of three ain’t bad. If you would keep your prayers (and fingers) crossed for me, we’ll see what the experts have to say about Val’s “mind mumbles”.

In many ways it made perfect sense. I had finally graduated after taking the “scenic route” to get my degree, and my husband decided he wanted to return to school himself. Student loans were going to be a part of our lives anyway, I knew how much he wanted to finish his schooling, and I agreed the timing was right. We had our cozy little life near our cozy little college and we could continue being, well, cozy.

Then he told me he wanted to move. 

He offered up the suggestions of moving to Billings, MT, or Dickinson, ND. Being that we lived close to family in rural Wyoming, I chose Billings. It was close to home, close to family, and we could pop back to our familiar life whenever the fancy struck us. I told him, with no room for misinterpretation, “I refuse to live in North Dakota.” 

Searching for jobs and housing in Billings proved no easy task. We were coming up on dead ends at every turn. Even the school was becoming difficult to work with in getting Brent admitted as a student. We were frustrated and feeling defeated. Here we were trying to go about moving – a big decision for us – and coming up short continuously.

Around that time, we attended a wedding in Fargo. As I hugged the groom good-bye before our drive back home, he said to me, “We hope you move here.” I laughed. I refuse to live in North Dakota.

Billings continued to give us trouble and looked more and more like it wasn’t going to be a viable option. We met with each pastor at our church, seeking prayerful guidance on what to do and where to go. We knew we had to move, but we had no idea where. Or how. Or what to do once the answer was determined.

Leaving the church after one such meeting, I stopped outside the doors. A sense of warmth overcame me, and I heard an internal, audible voice tell me, “Fargo.” I looked up at Brent, who was several steps ahead of me and called out to him. He turned around and I stammered, “We’re supposed to move to Fargo.”
“Did God just tell you that?” he asked.
“Yes…” I replied.
“Cool.” he answered, as he turned around kept walking.

Um, hello? I just told you I heard from the Most High. He told me we’re supposed to move to Fargo. To North Dakota. The best you can offer is “cool”?

I would love to tell you upon hearing the voice of God, I fell prostate in worship and reverence. That I was so moved by hearing Him speak to my very heart, I had an incredible emotional experience there in front of the church building. The truth of the matter is, however, as my husband continued to walk to the car, I began to argue with God. “Fargo? Not only in North Dakota, but the eastern most side of it? You can’t be serious. It won’t work. It doesn’t suit us. No way.”

Yes, folks, the first time I ever heard God speak directly to me, I tried to throw His words right back to him. Thanks but no thanks, God. I know we’ve been praying for direction and clarity, and even though you just answered that prayer – rather mightily, no less – I’m afraid you’re going to have to come back with a better answer. Says me.

To prove it was as much a farce as moving to Billings had turned out to be, I suggested we look for jobs and housing. Our friends who had recently gotten married in Fargo agreed to apartment hunt for us. In short order, they found us a nice apartment, and the landlord agreed to hold it if we sent the deposit. We didn’t even have to send the first month’s rent to secure the apartment; just the deposit. Brent and I both were interviewed via telephone for different jobs on the same Friday. The following Monday, we both received phone calls that we had been hired for those jobs, despite the employers never seeing so much as our picture. The university happened to be the last college Brent attended, so having him readmitted appeared to be a fairly smooth process. Maybe God knew what would work for us after all. 

After quickly securing a place to live, gainful employment, and readmission to college for my husband, we felt more secure this was in fact the path we were supposed to travel. But North Dakota, God? Really?

We’ve been in Fargo eight years now. We bought our first home here, started a family here, and after our second daughter, Harlynn, was stillborn, we buried her here. Our Fargo roots grow deeper each year. I can’t imagine living any place else.

It made sense to continue living where we were living and doing what we were doing. We were comfortable. We were content. We were cozy. God shook that “sense” to a scramble of ordained chaos in a matter of prayerful moments. When the dust settled, however, it was clear He had decreed our move. His hand has been working in our life visibly ever since. I haven’t heard His voice so definitively since that autumn day outside the church building, but I suspect if and when I do, there will be more of a “Yes Lord, praise you Lord!” response instead of an argument. It seems the Lord knows what He’s doing. Even in North Dakota.

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