Friday, October 9, 2009

God Told Me To

I first moved to Salem just over five years ago to go to law school.  I spent the year before that living in Berkeley, and it was a big adjustment.  Even though I knew I didn't want to live in the Bay Area forever, I missed the farmers markets, great restaurants, and entertainment there.

I knew one person in Salem, Chris.  We were part of the same group of friends in high school—I dated one of his best friends and he dated one of mine.  Even though the relationships didn't last past high school, we all managed to stay friends.  When I decided to move to Salem, I got in touch with Chris and asked him to find an apartment for me, which he did.

After I arrived, Chris and I went out to lunch to catch up.  I was in the middle of my culture shock and asked Chris why on earth he had moved to Salem.  He gave me a funny look and said, "God told me to." 

I have no idea what my response was.  I hope that I smiled and nodded, but I definitely thought he was a little crazy.  At that point, I had been avoiding churches for several years and I mostly associated Quakers with oatmeal.  I did think it was pretty gutsy to move somewhere completely unknown because God said to, and I was curious what could be in Salem that was so important.

When I went to law school, I didn't have a very clear idea of what I intended to do afterward.  I cared a lot about international human rights, and I had a vague notion that I might work in that field, saving the world.  I worked hard and ended up getting a certificate in international and comparative law, then I got a job in Seattle.

I left Salem the day I graduated from law school.  I put my diploma between the seats of my already-ex-boyfriend's car and we drove directly to Seattle.  Although I was sad to leave the community I found in Salem, I had no intention to ever move back there.

But when the question of transferring my membership to University Friends Meeting came up, I found I couldn't do it.  Even though I had no plans to live in Salem again, I did not feel like I could give up my membership there.  So I applied to become a sojourning member instead.

Then God told me to move to Salem.

Maybe some people just do the things God tells them to do—I fight.  I told God that was ridiculous.  I reminded God that I would need a job if I moved to Salem.  I told God that people would think I was crazy.

After months of fruitless job applications and interviews, I sent in one application for a job in Salem.  I got four interviews and I got the job.  I started telling people that I was planning on moving back to Salem.  To my surprise, everyone was supportive.  A lot of them acted like they knew it was coming.

I had plans for my life that did not include this.  I thought I knew what I was doing and where I was headed.  But there is a little Friends church in Salem that is calling to me and a big, unfathomable God that is telling me to go, so I am.  I am moving to Salem by next summer because God told me to.


  1. Wow. Amazing! Now it's likely we'll see more of you since some of my family lives in Salem. Wow. I'm so amazed at your stepping out in faithfulness like this. I used to feel some of those crazy leadings to do things that just seemed...crazy! But I don't feel as open to that now. Although, I guess moving here was crazy and buying a house while unemployed is crazy! In any case, I admire you friend. =)

  2. I think it was really good of God to help you out about the job part. Congratulations on the job and the clarity.

    (Sniff!--We'll miss you at UFM, of course....)

  3. Well hopefully we can actually connect again this time.

    That's crazy awesome though.

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Ashley. I don't think I've written about my own experience about God "telling me to."

    Until now, that is.

    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up


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