I’ve always been the non-profit girl.
Always. In high school, I was saving my spare change to buy a FEED bag. I was spending birthday money on TWLOHA shirts, Abort73 gear, Invisible Children campaigns. In college, I interned for countless orgs – local and international. For some reason, social injustices have always seemed to cut me just a little bit deeper than most people. I don’t care more than other people – I think everyone, on some level, cares about the broken state of our world – but I think I feel it a little more. I’ve always felt a bigger need to go, to do, to act. I’m the girl at the party, in the corner, talking about the international aid world and development problems in sub-Saharan Africa. Or the person on Facebook who’s constantly sharing feminist news clips and third world statistics. In college, I found myself putting my plans of law school on the back burner (as I discovered my passionate argumentative skills had other potential uses – advocacy). I found myself spending all my free time with a group of high school girls. I found myself on a plane to Malawi, three years in a row. The non-profit girl.
And when I moved back from Malawi? I started the American office of an Ugandan nonprofit. Which I’ve been overseeing, by myself, for the past year. When I came home, I got so many “This is perfect for you!”s, “Of course you found a job like this”es, and “I can’t imagine you doing anything else!”s. Because I was Krysti, the non-profit girl. I always have been. Except, now I’m not.
Today is my last day at IGF. It’s my last day working for an international organization. It’s my last day at a non-profit. I never thought I’d say that (…or, type that). But Monday I’m starting a super normal, super office-y, super non non-profit job. Me, the non-profit girl.
It’s been a long process to get here. And you, public internet, don’t get to know all the details. But I’m confident that here is a good place to be. It’s a place I never imagined, and never expected, but it’s where God called me – and that’s more than I can hope for. I don’t know why God calls people where He does. I don’t know why He called me back to Malawi after graduation, but I was really glad He did. I don’t know why He called me to leave, and I was really bitter when He did. I just know that He knows a lot more than me. His ways are not my ways. And, most days, I’m glad of that. Most days, I’m confused by that, as well.
I’ve been told by a few people not to settle. I’ve been told by some friends that I have so much to offer the non-profit world – too much, I shouldn’t be leaving it. Others have kept their mouths shut, but I saw the surprise in their eyes, that they quickly masked with excitement. I get it. This was a shock to me, too. I’ve had to remind friends of a few things, remind myself of a few things, lately…
I am not my job. You are not your job. We are so much more than who writes our paycheck, than the place we happen to spend 40 hours a week. Even if your job is considered “ministry”, that still is not your identity. Your worth is so much more than a title or position or few words than can fit on a business card. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in defining ourselves, and those around us, by our careers. I, embarrassingly, had to mourn the loss of getting to say, “I run the American office an Ugandan non-profit” and feeling so cool. Because now I get to say the generic, “I’m an office manager”. But I also happen to be 50 million other things, besides an office manager. And I bet you are a ton of other things besides your job title. Let’s recognize our true identity is found in Christ, and the whole “So, what do you do?” is a horrible get-to-know-you question.
I’m still changing the world. I always will be. Sure, my job might not be directly benefiting orphans in Africa anymore. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to influence the world around me. I get to choose to speak to my barista like they are a human, and not my coffee slave. I get to choose to give my money to companies who I believe are honoring their corporate social responsibility. Best of all, I still get to choose to spend my Thursdays at Flood Youth, investing in the next generation. My mission field has changed a bit, but it’s still a mission field. You have a mission field, too – whether it’s in the coffee shop you work in or the classroom you teach in or the cubicle you sit in or the church you serve within, because we’re all on the same mission: to bring His kingdom to earth. You don’t need the title of “missionary” to change someone’s life. Like I’ve shared before, it’s not a matter of IF you will change the world, it’s what the world will look once you have. We’re all world changers – whether in cubicles, corner offices, mini vans, or Malawi.
I serve a faithful God. A God who knows what He is doing, even when I have no idea. My life has been craziness after craziness after craziness – things I could have never imagined, things I couldn’t have pulled together in my wildest dreams. And God has shown up in all of it. He has sat with me in all of it. He has led me through all of it. So, although I continue to doubt if I heard Him correctly, when I find myself down a path I never considered, I don’t doubt Him. I don’t doubt His goodness, I don’t doubt His faithfulness. I know that He works all things together for my good, I know that He wants the best for me. That doesn’t mean painless, or not frustrating, or easy. But it’s His best. And I hope to strive after that, wherever it leads, for the rest of my life.
I want to believe that this is just a break from the non-profit world; it’s not a final ending. But I don’t know what’s up ahead. And I don’t need to (…I’m learning to be okay with that.) What I need is to be open to this new season, to be open to everything God has in store for me. The surprises and the sadness and the goodness and the grieving. Because following, bitterly, with my heart closed off and my head hung low, is not truly following. I won’t pretend to understand God’s ways and His timing and His decisions, but I get to understand His love. At least, understand the small amount my human mind can fathom of perfect, never ending, all encompassing love. Life changing, world changing love. Love that’s making this non-profit girl be okay with the idea of non-profits no more.