Tuesday, August 14, 2012

why i quit my job, part ii.

I act like Jef Holm inspired me to quit my job, and although that would make a funny -- and slighly pathetic -- dinner party anecdote, it's not entirely true.

The truth is, I never wanted to quit my job. I just wanted God to move. I wanted Him to force me into action, to help me get my groove back, to highlight opportunities my eyes hadn't been able to see.

A few days after Jordan left for his mission trip to Venezuela, our minister spoke about acknowledging and taking responsibility for our wealth. We are the ones God is speaking to in His word, the ones who have to be careful not to let their possessions -- their jobs, their incomes -- own them. We are responsible for caring for the least of these, for sacrificing what the world sees as valuable, for acknowledging we are renters here, not owners.

It was convicting and heartbreaking, and it made me realize: I don't want to remember my 20s for the cute furniture I bought. (Even though I love cute furniture.)

I want to look back on my 20s and know I made decisions based on the God I serve and the story I want to tell.

When Jordan got back from Venezuela, I had my mini-meltdown. We began to pray for opportunities. That was a Thursday.

The following Saturday, I received an email from the owner of my favorite local bookseller: She needed someone to help run the Tallahassee branch, and she wanted to know if I was interested in interviewing.

I thought I might wet my pants.

Instead, I scheduled an interview, and after countless prayers, long talks with my husband, multiple meetings with my boss, and yes, a pro/con list or two, I quit my job. 

Last week, I turned in my two weeks' notice as a writer and editor for a legal publication, and next week, I'll begin my work as a local bookseller.

Donald Miller says the best way to lead others in living a better story is to live a better story yourself. 

That's what I'm trying to do. 

It wasn't necessarily an easy decision. Sure, I've always wanted to be Kathleen Kelly, but I've never worked retail. As a child, my wrapping paper sales were always dismal, resulting in my aunt's pity and her annual order of multiple rolls just to take the whole thing off my hands. I am quiet and laidback, not exactly your typical salesperson. I had a steady, reliable income, with benefits and paid time off and sick leave.

And despite the fact that this out-of-the-blue opportunity couldn't have been clearer than the burning bush itself, I fought God a little bit on it.

I wanted to be practical. I wanted to be wise. So I tried to convince my current employer to allow me to work part-time there and part-time at the bookstore.

It was a no-go, and my plans took a punch in the gut.

If I was going to do this, I was going to have to jump in all the way, full-time, not necessarily understanding the ins and outs of the result.

It's hard, isn't it, to let go of understanding and to just trust that Someone else is going to take care of you?

I know running a bookstore is hardly equivalent to building wells in Africa. It's not helping the homeless or meeting a "least of these" need.

But it's taking care of children, encouraging them to laugh and be silly, to read and turn words into imaginings. It's a slightly more flexible schedule, giving me time to serve friends and family in capacities I wasn't previously able. It's supporting the economy of my community and boosting local business.

It's what I've wanted to do since I was a 12-year-old girl watching Meg Ryan hang twinkle lights in the window. 

It's choosing to put passions over finances, and I think that's a legacy one day, I'll be really proud of, no matter what happens to the little bookstore in midtown Tallahassee. 

My decision-making process includes a lot of questions. One of the first ones I always ask is what my 16-year-old self would think. I ask, because I like her, and I want to know if she'd like me. I trust her opinion, and I want to know if she's happy with who she sees, with who she's become. 

This is one of those decisions I'm confident 16-year-old Annie would be so proud of. 

When I look back on my 20s -- when my children ask and want to know -- I want to have made a difference. I want to have more than cute furniture and a nice home and a semi-stylish wardrobe. I want to look back and know I took some leaps of faith.

Last week, I quit my job. Next week, I'm going to be selling books, conducting storytimes, and scheduling author readings.

Isn't life just so incredibly wild? Aren't we just so incredibly lucky?


brie. said...

oh how wonderful! i've been thinking about your post all day...it might just be the push i need to pray for God to work in unbelievable ways in my life...thanks for honestly sharing your story and glorifying Him all the way...

mary kate said...

This is so great Annie! I am so happy for you! It takes alot to decide to do what you've done. I hope you enjoy every second of it.

Rachel Reeves said...

We are blessed and you, my dear, are receiving a gift of being able to enjoy a passion of yours....daily.

God is good!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

"I want to look back on my 20s and know I made decisions based on the God I serve and the story I want to tell." I so agree and love this, Annie! I just so happen to work at a bookstore too; and being able to talk with and inspire others daily with talk of books and having uplifting conversations is truly amazing to me! Good luck at your bookstore! And kudos for answering God's call! =)

Kelly Sauer said...

"It's what I've wanted to do since I was a 12-year-old girl watching Meg Ryan hang twinkle lights in the window. "

This line just made me CRY. I love how much life there is here!

Sydney said...

congrats!! Good for you for listening and jumping in, that IS always the hardest part, but often the most rewarding. I work at a bookstore now and I LOVE IT! It is so fabulous!! And yes, EVERYONE says that I am like Meg Ryan haha. Best of luck at the bookstore, I am looking forward to hearing your adventures

Brittany said...

I was so looking forward to this post this morning. Gosh, Annie. I don't even know you (in real life), but I'm so proud of what you're doing--taking a risk, listening to God, and running your very own local bookstore! You're kind of living the dream. I couldn't be happier for you. Keep us all updated.

Jules said...

If you receiving an email out of the blue to interview for a bookseller position isn't a call from God, I don't know what is.


Shanna said...

I love reading stories like these. I went through something similar a little over two years ago, when I quit my job to become a full-time freelancer, and I remember being terrified and curious and excited all at once. Happy for you in this new season. Inspired by your thoughts. Here's to the stories we're living---may they be good ones.

Laura {RealHomeLiving} said...

This is so bold! I am amazed by your willingness to do what God's leading you to, even though it's scary. You are going to have so much fun working in that bookstore! I truly hope it is the job that you will love.

Leslie Lee said...

This post and your news is just oozing with the goodness of stepping out in faith, listening to the Lord, and being brave - so excited and proud for you! Praying for you and all the new things headed your way!

Kara Gehret said...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! IT IS PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT! I have zero eloquent words, only geeky freak outs and exclamation points!!!!!!!!

Erin said...

So, I only know you through your blog. But I often feel that we could be related because we are so similar: and oh my gosh, this sounds like the perfect job for you!
I remember watching You've Got Mail and thinking that that would be something I would want to do as well.
I am SO SO happy for you and I can't wait to hear about your adventures in book selling land.
It's amazing the ways that God can send such clear and crazy signs.

Amanda Allen said...

Oh, my word. You ARE Kathleen Kelly!!! I actually did a fist pump for you mid-read! Annie, I'm so, so excited for you. I know exactly (exactly!) what you meant when you said that it's tough when some people are hesitant to be totally encouraging. When I told my best friend I was leaving my job to open my music studio, her initial reaction was "Wow, Amanda. So...how about insurance? How about taxes and all that stuff?" Those are not the things I want to think about right now, but yeah, ok. She was right, but it can so be done. You can figure all that stuff out. You CAN be the "you" that makes you the most excited, and this - this bookselling, creative, living with words and turns of phrases girl - this is YOU. It's the story God has given you a passion for telling. Bravo. I can't wait to hear how it turns out.

Melissa said...

Again, I am so proud and happy for you and for Jordan...you are such a God-loving, servant-hearted couple and I/we just couldn't be more proud if you were our own! And, you are kinda, right?! Since we've known you since conception! LOL Best Wishes!

Chantel Klassen said...

Wow, it sounds like you are going to be a real life Kathleen Kelly! May God bless you in this new journey!!

Velva said...

Cheers to you Annie! This is what life is all about....taking risks, making dreams a reality. You had an opportunity-you prayed hard, thought hard and you took the leap. Very excited for you!


Caitlin said...

That sounds fantastic!! I am a little bit jealous! No, it's not a building wells in Africa, but I think that if you are working at something that you are passionate about, your whole life becomes a walking ministry. You will impact countless lives. My favorite line from "You've Got Mail" is when Kathleen says to Joe, "A book you read as a child becomes a part of your identity like no other reading in you life..." Or something like that. Just think about how many little lives you will impact by directing them towards stories. Stories about goodness and truth and all the other important things. And then those kids might grow up to go build wells in Africa or do who knows what. Sounds wonderful to me! Blessings to you on this new adventure!!


Anonymous said...

I'm just beside-myself-excited for you. And tearfully so. Praying this will spill joy unspeakable into your life. I know you'll be sure to share it with everyone who walks through your door, peruses you perfectly arranged books, and joins you on your adventure.

Oh and I can't wait to read your review for The Art of Fielding! It's on my 'must' list

jess said...

my dear friend, brooke bailey (now hamilton), directed me to your blog about a year ago and after a long conversation with her yesterday she once again told me i needed to read your most recent posts. i like you found myself wondering what kind of story i was living and after much prayer and a few leaps of faith i also quit my job and have decided to move to charleston, south carolina to attend grad school. i loved my teaching job, the school and the kids were great, i was content and comfortable, but i knew there was so much more out there i wanted to experience. praying for you as you start your new journey! thank you for sharing!


jess said...

my sweet friend, brooke bailey (now hamilton), sent me a link to your blog about a year ago, but after a long conversation with her yesterday she told me i needed to read your most recent posts. i, like you, have wondered what kind of story am i living, and i too recently quit a job i love to take a giant leap of faith and decided to move to charleston, south carolina, to experience more, grow in my faith, and become a better teacher! i left a job i loved, where i was content and comfortable, to step out and do something to live a better story and become a better me! praying for you as you start your new journey!

Four Flights said...

Oh Annie I'm so happy for you. i hope this new venture proves to be everything it seems to be, and more. So happy (and PROUD!) you took a leap of faith like that because I know it isn't easy and it's unsettling, but it sounds like in the end it was the right thing to do. And I bet 16 year old Annie would like you just fine :)

Amanda said...

Annie -- your story is proof that God is working His plan out for you and that you get to have the joyous life that He has created for you! What a wonderful opportunity!

Lauren said...

This is soooo exciting Annie!! So pumped for you and this leap of faith and to see what God does next because of it!

Lauren said...

This is sooooo exciting Annie!! Congratulations and I can't wait to see what God does next because of it!!