It is great to be among evergreen trees once again, but the scenery isn’t the real reason I came back home.
On a late November day in 2011, I took a phone call from a man in Springfield, Missouri, working as the digital content (read: web, mobile, etc.) manager for a television station there.
It was a call that would change my immediate future. You see, just a month or two earlier, I had felt the need to leave my job at The Chronicle, a newspaper in Centralia, Washington, and do something bigger and better that could enhance my career.
I answered the call. Two hours later, I wrote a resignation letter and told my friends and family I would soon be off to Missouri where I was going to work for a television station.
Maybe it was a need for validation. Maybe I sought effusive adulation. I don’t know, but at any rate, I was convinced a job at the #1 TV station in a city 10 times that of Centralia would validate my career and be a springboard for me to work in a similar capacity in Portland someday.
I moved to Springfield, and things were great…
…for six months.
My parents, whom I was close geographically to in Springfield, decided to move to Louisiana, where Dad got a job. My supervisor left, and even though I applied for his position, I was passed over for it (and to be frank, I never forgave the powers-that-be for doing so…again, read the need for validation above). Over the coming months, I felt relegated to a lesser role than I had known when I first arrived to the TV station.
The glass case that held my dreams shattered under the weight of something known as reality. It crashed loudly, shattered into pieces that could not be repaired, and left a mess in its wake.
I could never come to terms with the fact my job kept me behind a desk, in a building, doing something I increasingly did not want to do. I began to wonder why I moved in the first place.
I left my church in search of a new one, although the reason for that was not connected to my job at all — rather, that was a matter of personal need. But for most of 2013, I began to put my faith in Christ on a shelf of sorts, knowing that I believed in God and communicating with him at will, which became increasingly less.
An opportunity arose in mid-August (I think) of last year to go visit my parents in Louisiana. They had just bought a new house and were attending a small Assembly of God church in a town just off Interstate 20. Life for the most part was decent for them.
I visited my parents’ church and was instantly struck by the contrast between it and a megachurch across the freeway. Not even half the pews were full, the pastor himself led worship, and the building was aging. Yet I noticed something when an elderly man walked up to the stage and led those present in three hymns, one of which was “Revive Us Again.”
We began to sing.
Hallelujah, Thine the glory
Hallelujah, Thine the glory
Revive us again
The music wasn’t great, the singing may have been a bit off key, and there wasn’t anyone raising their hands — but this man stood up front vigorously leading the worship. I sang along, and in the middle of the song, I felt a sort of calm in my heart that I had not felt in awhile.
It wasn’t some major earth-shattering spiritual moment in which I started crying and fell to my knees, overcome with emotion. Rather, it was as if a bell resonated in my heart and I listened to its clear tone ring out above all the noise in my life. From that point forward, my faith in Christ was revived as I sang a hymn that in my mind had been tucked away for years.
I probed inside my mind and I realized the mess the dream that had shattered left was cleaned up, just as if nothing had ever been there.
Over the coming months, I began to foster an intense desire to move to the Northwest, a region I knew in my heart I was inexorably tied to. I knew I wanted to return home to the people and territory I felt dear.
A job ad appeared for a business and education reporter at The Chronicle — my former position before I left for Missouri. I applied.
And on a late November day in 2013, I took a phone call from a man in Centralia, Washington, working as the editor for the newspaper there.
That too was a call that would change my immediate future. But it wouldn’t change just that — my response to it meant a permanent change in one important facet of life.
By accepting the job, I acknowledged I would start over again in Centralia — and that I would forever forgo that dream of enhancing a career with the goal of climbing up the ladder. I knew I would instead have to focus on a rather rural area that I had a big love in my heart for.
In the months that I have been back, the Lord has been at work. I have returned to the church I attended before I left, I have made new friends in addition to connecting with old ones I love dearly, and God is opening doors to impact the small community in which I live through teamwork and vision.
Connecting with people in this community has been easier and more impactful than I could have ever imagined, and I have surrounded myself with people who share a similar passion for the people of the Lewis County area. They serve to encourage and invigorate me.
I saw the movie The Fault in Our Stars on Saturday, and it brought forth a salient point. Without giving too much away, one of the main characters reveals that they are scared of oblivion, stating that when one dies, they are largely forgotten, and that they wanted to make a big impact on people when they are alive and be remembered in a big way, by many people.
My desire had always been to do just that: to be a person who showcases his intelligence to many and solves some sort of grand problem in the world or invents some sort of product that changes people’s lives for the better. I had always wanted to make a grand impact on society somehow and deluded myself for many years into thinking I was going to do so.
But as in the movie, when the person’s love interest tells them that the person has their love and that should be enough, the perspective I used to have has similarly shifted.
The lights and busy streets in my visions have faded to a point in which they no longer exist. They have been replaced by rural roads snaking through farmland, forests, mountains and serene areas, with people interspersed throughout who just want to offer a friendly word or share about life as it is.
My desire today is to somehow benefit the community in which I am a part, and I don’t even need to play a grand role in doing so. I have realized that I can impact one person, who can in turn impact another and the result can be exponential because of many people working together.
And that’s the real reason I have come back to Centralia — not just because I love the area and I wanted my old job back, but to bless this area as part of a team that can change things for the better. I truly believe it is going to happen.
I am a blessed man, and I am given a tremendous gift in which I enjoy this life day by day with a renewed sense of purpose and faith.