Have you ever read a really great book and cried when you got to the end? Not because the book was sad, but because you were sad that it was over. I’ve had this happen a time or two in my life. My first favorite book series, The Lord of the Rings, and also The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society were this way for me.
Sometimes the time comes to say “see you later” to our favorite characters, but we carry them in our hearts forever.
That is how I feel about my coworker-friends that I have labored, laughed, and sometimes cried with at the library for the last 15 years. I am preparing to make a career change, and tomorrow the news goes live to the general public. I’ve been anticipating this day for weeks now. And here’s the truth: Saying Goodbye is definitely not easy!
Leanna the Librarian
It was never my intention to be a librarian my whole life. However, that was what I grasped onto tightly as the years passed and my desired role of wife, partner, and mother never materialized. I followed hard after my achievable dreams of being a youth librarian, and doggedly pursued dual degrees that would allow me to be qualified as both a school library media specialist and a public youth librarian.
Then in 2016 I reached the pinnacle of what I always wanted career-wise. When it was good, it was really good. I remember telling my boss in 2019 how happy and content I was in my position. And then the wheels came off. Like many people, 2020 came and a series of circumstances caused me to re-evaluate what was important, life-giving, and nurturing to my soul.
I started 2020 in a difficult job placement, in an environment I wasn’t prepared for, nor where I felt safe. After returning to my regular assignment in March, the Pandemic struck, which brought on a long period of isolation. I was sheltering in place with my cat, and reflecting on my life, my job, and where my identity was found.
It turns out that I had somehow misplaced my identity. I had become Leanna the Librarian. When things started getting difficult at work, I thought, “I have to fix it. It has to go back to being as enriching as before. It’s all I have left of my dreams.” You see, if I couldn’t be fulfilled in my desire for family then I could control my fulfillment through my career. I thought.
A Light in the Darkness
In the midst of the emotional turmoil of 2020, I was looking for a distraction and a positive outlet. That desire led me to take a free novel writing class offered through the School of Kingdom Writers. Over the years, people would say to me, “With all that reading you do, I bet you would be a great author!” And I’d always reply, “No Way! I could never come up with all those details.”
Though, if I am honest, I had dreamed about writing children’s fiction, picture books, and Christian non-fiction, especially writing down life-lessons I’ve learned from God. When I started taking the class, I was floored. It was like having someone reveal a secret formula to writing that had been right in front of me all along. Despite being immensely enjoyable, the jury was still out on whether I could transfer the helpful instruction into successful storytelling.
When we got to the part of the class about building our author platform, I had difficulty with something called Imposter Syndrome. Basically, it’s your brain saying, “Who the heck do you think you are? You can’t call yourself an author yet!” On my website and social media profiles I needed to use the word author or writer to describe myself. But was I really?
Oh, if only I had the charisma of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek and could declare with authority, Make It So!
Coming to Life
There’s this quote from Eric Liddell (also in the movie Chariots of Fire) where he says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
This perfectly describes how I feel about writing (definitely not running). When I started blogging regularly with a desire to share my heart and the lessons I am learning from God’s heart, I could feel His pleasure. This realization was a turning point, and I began to let the mantle of author settle on my shoulders like a comfy fleece sweatshirt.
When I wrote my blog or had fun crafting a scene in my novel, it was like a giant sun-beam of his pleasure was resting on me. I felt fulfilled for the first time in, well, forever. I was finally doing what I had desired to do since I was 18 years old.
Now, every week on my blog, I get the privilege of sharing my life and hard-won struggles of faith. I also get to share what Jesus is speaking to me. My goal is that through my writing I can encourage others. I hope they get a glimpse of the Father’s loving and forgiving heart for his children and his desire for them to walk in the freedom purchased by Jesus’ sacrifice.
I see a glimmer of possibility out there shining on the horizon. People whom I’ve never met are reaching out to tell me they are encouraged. Wow, God! I am humbled!
Fork in the Road
When the school’s director, Brad Pauquette, asked me in early 2021 if I had considered applying to SOKW‘s full-time writing program in Zanesville, OH, I replied honestly. “Nope. But since you asked me, I’ll pray about it.” Though, why would a rational human consider leaving a career they’ve spent YEARS pursuing?
But the question! It rocked me. I spent a lot of time in prayer! Could I, God? Is it possible that I could make a career out of writing? What if this was the first step toward my desire for God to use my life more deeply for his purposes? What would it feel like to have a career where I could openly talk about Jesus? I could place my faith on a lampstand for all to see the authentic me.
This path would truly involve risk. Travel daily to Zanesville, OH (50 miles) without steady income for the next 2 years. (Now you understand the catalyst to the previous few postings about fear and following God’s lead!) I’d have to meet and make new friends, and start a new career where I have zero training or experience. Perfectionists like to be perfect but that’s impossible when you are a newbie!
No Risk, No Reward
However, this path would also come with great rewards! Because the school is ministry based, I would get to spend a portion of my days talking about Jesus, worshipping, studying the Word, and stepping out in ministry opportunities like praying for people for healing. The other part of my days would be spent learning how to become a better writer, including creating a portfolio of all different types of writing, professional and recreational.
Acceptance to the program would mean a step on the path to embracing what I had dreamt about so long ago! A life of ministry through writing and encouragement. Instilling what I write with Kingdom values. Sharing my heart for Jesus through my career.
I had to go for it! So I applied. The process of pouring out my heart on paper to be judged worthy or wanting was a difficult one. I sat with my finger hovering over the mouse with my cursor on “Submit” for at least 10 prayerful minutes.
Despite the nerves, I knew in my heart that this was the path! Equal parts exhilaration and trepidation followed as I continued to walk on the narrow path God carved out for my next adventure. Then I had to wait for the verdict. Applying to the school was a way for me to relinquish control of my life and let God reimagine my future in a way I can’t yet see, fathom, or understand.
God kept using scripture to strengthen me and sending friends to encourage me. The verse I kept encountering over and over was Jeremiah 29:11. I wrote a blog post about this whole experience if you are interested in reading it.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I have a lot more story to tell, including the many confirmations the Lord brought my way to indicate I was on the right path. I plan on sharing that with you in the future, although I don’t want to leave you hanging. Here is your Spoiler Alert: I was accepted to The School of Kingdom Writers, and I am going to start this new adventure in the Fall!
Today, I will wrap up by saying that change, while sometimes painful, is necessary for growth. And I never want to stop growing.
I challenge you to ask yourself this week if God is nudging you to take a daring step toward letting him re-envision your identity or priorities. I can’t yet vouch for the outcome of my own suddenly divergent path, but I do know that in all things, God has always been faithful and loving toward me. And he is toward you as well.
We can trust him as we surrender our lives and future into his capable hands.
A last note to my wonderful co-workers who hung in there with me through thick and thin. I love you forever, and I am so thankful we were able to walk the same path together for awhile. I will always make time to walk in the woods with you or grab a coffee and chat about life! 💜
Thank you for following my journey and for the support as I close one chapter and open another. If you’d like to get a weekly email with my posts and news, please add your email to the newsletter signup below.