Busy, homesick, but intentional

When I was deaf and dying and all that, I spent most of my day watching Netflix and writing on this blog. I fantasized about finally being busy again. Fantasized about having seemingly endless energy (I’ve been sick my whole life, ya’ know?). Then I got the transplant and obtained the energy I craved. But I was still deaf and afraid to approach society. So, more Netflix.

I went to a church conference in August and spent a heckuva lotta time praying about what I should do once I was able to “join society” again. A phrase kept popping to mind over and over and over: “Help people.” Can you be more specific, God? “Help people.” Like my career, or…? “Help people.” I went a bit crazy trying to interpret that.

Have you ever seen that show, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World? In it, Kevin’s supernaturally “chosen” to help the world through kind acts. I felt like Kevin. God didn’t pull me through all the horrors of the last couple years just to sit around and watch Netflix, right? So I did “charitable” things, made myself emotionally available, and even looked into theological seminary (I would be an awful pastor). Nothing satisfied the calling to “help people,” though.

My hearing was restored at the end of September. And then I shot off. I was, and am, so ready to take all the lessons I learned from the past couple years and be a positive force in the world.

Life update time (aka, why I’m not blogging much):

Months later, I have a few jobs. I’m a full-time columns editor at BioNews Services, which is a company that publishes 50+ rare/chronic disease websites. Many of the sites have patient columnists who write about their experiences living with the disease. They’re not professional writers, so I help them articulate those experiences. I’m marketing for Sixpence, which is a start-up crowdfunding app that seeks to help with social causes (including funding missionaries, teachers, medical expenses, etc.). I’m president of the NorCal Chapter for the Lung Transplant Foundation, which seeks to fund research into stopping chronic lung rejection (the leading cause of death for those with lung transplants). It also provides mentorship services. Atop all that, I’m still freelance writing one or two pieces per week. And now I’m starting down the path of becoming a youth group leader at my church.

I stare at that paragraph and feel anxiety, honestly. I can’t help thinking I signed on for too much. But then, this is what I wanted, right? In Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, he becomes obsessed with helping people and ends up helping where he shouldn’t. This results in him making situations worse or stretching himself too thin. I’ve been wondering if it’s the same case for me, but I haven’t felt convicted to drop any of the listed responsibilities. Outside the BioNews gig, all the opportunities came to me — I believe God presented them into my life for a reason. I don’t like marketing, I don’t like fundraising, I don’t have non-profit experience, the idea of interacting with youth stresses me out (I’m getting old, man). But now they’re my responsibilities. So I embrace it all and give my 100%.

The other day, I went to a transplant clinic and my doctor randomly said I could move back to Hawaii if I want to. I never thought that was a possibility since it doesn’t have transplant centers. It was the ultimate temptation. Drop everything and run off to Hawaii. It would be so easy. So lovely.

I prayed and felt God tugging at me to stay in the Bay. At least for now. And that sucked. So badly. I was reminded that I made commitments here — half of those listed responsibilities require that I stay in this area or time zone. And if I can’t honor commitments to help people, did I really learn anything the past couple years? Or am I still the Brad who ran from helping others?

I don’t know if the “Hawaii carrot” was dangled in front of my nose as a temptation challenge, or as a “this could be the future, you could come full circle, but not yet”-type thing. My heart is sad as I write this.

But then I remember that I can make real change with these new jobs. I’m able to help people with diseases and disabilities practice writing therapy, to help fund mission trips and passions and medical expenses, to help mentor youth, to help lung transplant patients live longer and more happily. I have those opportunities. How could I trade them so easily just for the selfish desire to return to familiarity?

It’s honestly hard to be in the Bay. I love the food, the microclimates, the diversity, the fun things to do. But the Silicon Valley tech corporate culture makes me uncomfortable. It can be cold, greedy, success-obsessed, a breeder of workaholicism.* Coming from Hawaii, land of “relax on the beach, aloha spirit” … it’s been a culture shock to live here. But I also believe that if I feel uncomfortable in this atmosphere, that might be a challenge by God to change things.

My hope is that I can one day return to Hawaii for good, knowing it is the right choice. But not yet.

(This isn’t a diss on the whole Bay Area. Thankfully, I’ve found really beautiful souls out here to help me, and I really am going to need their help.)

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