A partner in my team once told me: our lives are defined by the “5% big moments”. For me, it cannot be more true. 5% of 365 days in a year is 20 days (rounded). I can recall the 20 bigger moments in 2018 that marked my experience in 2018 and underlay hope for 2019.
As we approach the advent of a new year, I have been asking people about their top three moments in 2018. The themes vary widely—from achieved milestones to uneventful maintenance to unfulfilled hopes. “Unexpected providence” would be an appropriate theme for my top three moments.
The most memorable moment of 2018 would certainly be my three months of “homelessness”.
In the early morning of August 5, I was awoken to noises. I saw dripping water from the ceiling so I alerted my concierge, who then alerted the firefighters. Firefighters decided to break the ceiling to understand the cause of the issue. Water poured into my unit. As we later discovered, my neighbour’s kitchen pipe bursted.
Looking back, I see that I was incredibly loved and blessed by God through the trial.
- There was no moment when I was concerned about temporary accommodations and expenses—even though I (foolishly) did not have tenant’s insurance. Friend after friend opened their homes to me.
- None of my possessions were damaged. Selina and Rhema’s home was across the hallway; we moved all of my possessions to their home before the firefighters broke the ceiling. They graciously stored my possessions for the full duration of three months.
- Rebecca’s colleague would leave for North Africa and Europe for six weeks with his family, and he needed a person to care for his house and cats. I thus had stable temporary accommodation for the second half of my “homelessness”—for free, with a cleaner, for six weeks!
The three months of “homelessness” was unexpectedly helpful in my emotional recovery; the experience of living in other people’s homes ironically deepened my sense of security and “home”. Specifically, God has provided assurance that (1) He provides and walks with me through trials; and (2) Toronto is home.
Moving to an oasis at Yonge and King
When Selina told me about an available studio in her apartment, I was initially hesitant. I was uninterested in moving for the fourth time in my 18 months in Toronto. Yet, I still decided to visit the studio because I was not happy in my previous home at Blue Jays Way and King.
I ultimately decided to move to Yonge and King for three reasons: (1) I would save $400 per month; (2) I would live in the most central location in Toronto; and (3) I would live across from Selina and Rhema.
I cannot ask for better neighbours than Selina and Rhema. They have been exceedingly gracious and generous to me: inviting me to their events, praying with me, and counselling me through emotionally difficult circumstances. I regularly thank God for my adopted sisters.
I had not prayed to move to my current home, but God still provided. Specifically, God provided a powerful means of emotional recovery when I thought that I would linger in a depressed condition in an isolating neighbourhood for a long time.
Renewed orientation and confidence in my vocation
I had hoped to pursue a two-year secondment in London, England. Circumstances changed, and I decided that it would be emotionally healthy to be in the care of friends in Toronto. I also understood that my decision could limit the pace of my career development—a risk that would materialize.
In the spring of 2018, I received an unexpected request to lead a workforce management engagement in support of a director with whom I had sought to work. I capitalized on the opportunity to ask to be transferred to his team; I was accepted within 4 hours (a rare occurrence—average wait time ranges is 4 weeks).
Later in 2018, a new senior manager from South Africa would join my new team. Unexpectedly in November, he extended an invitation to be my mentor (a rare occurrence—a mentor, not a mentee, is often pursued). I was reminded that God cares about my vocation.
The three leading moments in 2018 were selected for the impact to my emotional and spiritual maturity. Indeed, my baptism was a critical milestone—but it was not a process through which God led me to trust Him more deeply per se.
As we waited for the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, Gabi asked about my hope for 2018. I answered that I hoped for stability; I was hoping to live through a stable trajectory of completed planned milestones. In truth, my initial plans were limiting—for my emotional recovery and my vocation. I now better see that God’s plans are better.
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