Paradigm Shift... Libby's Story

In Forge, we refer to the “ah­ha” moments of life as paradigm shifts. A few years ago, I began a
rather large paradigm shift and it all started with a simple prayer, “God, please set me free.” I’m
not even sure what I wanted freedom circumstances, the pain of loss, broken dreams,
endless stress at work, all the demands of church, family and ministry. I spent years building a
life that was not what I wanted; instead I was building what I thought I should want, and doing
the “right” things. In 2014, I took a job at a Christian boarding school in India to pursue a lifelong
dream to be a missionary. When that fell through last minute, I found myself homeless, jobless
and sleeping on a hide­a­bed loveseat at my sister’s home in San Antonio. I felt like a failure.

During that time of transition and upheaval, I found Forge Austin and started their 9 month
residency on missional living. It was a critical point in my spiritual formation. God took me away
from what I knew, but gave me friends in Forge who understood my journey. Since I was
already in transition and missed home, I headed back to Colorado to work seasonally at one of
the resorts in the mountains west of Denver ­ a great context for mission. In my new job, I
earned less than I had in almost 20 years. It seemed absolutely crazy at the time, and yet it was
fun to be able to let go of what I should do as a responsible, middle­class, evangelical, and to
instead pursue something adventurous and life­giving again with God. At the end of my work
agreement, I took a year round position in Human Resources and stayed.

While the past year has been very rich, it has not been easy. I am both single and introverted.
The transitional nature of the workforce coupled with the independence and non­committal
attitude of the average person make it incredibly hard to build friendships and authentic
community here. However, God brings Christian community to me in unorthodox ways.
Chaplains Ben and Steve are great friends and leaders and have encouraged me to grow and
flourish in my God­given abilities. We partner in several ways on campus. After years of being
told I could not do certain things in the church as a woman and serving under controlling,
narcissistic ministry leaders, that blesses me.

My co­worker Mary is my prayer partner and tends to my heart when I am hurting. Those relationships are crucial to the sustainability of my life here. There are definitely days I want to give up and go back to a more comfortable life, but
Paul tells us that “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures
through every circumstance” (1 Cor 13:7 NLT). I have a deep love and affection for the
community in this county. God may ask me to take on new circumstances at some point, but, for
now, my heart is here.

My simple life of missional living isn’t very glamorous, but it is certainly never boring. Each day I
join God in the work he is already doing rather than trying to come up with my own plans to
achieve success. The result is more fruit in 18 months than I saw in 12 years of full­time work in
traditional ministry. Those small victories for the kingdom bring me so much joy. It feels odd to
say I gave up a life of ministry and mission in order to really learn how to minister and live
missionally, but that is exactly what happened. Missional living is a crucial part of becoming like
Christ. This critical paradigm shift has changed my story, and my relationship to Christ will never
be the same.