In September 2013, I took a leap of faith and moved to San Francisco, accepting an entry- level position at a communications firm in the financial district. Like other city transplants I had met at the time, I had no ties to the area, let alone any kind of community, but I wanted to embrace change.
My family was all based in the Midwest, and I figured I’d give San Francisco a couple of years until figuring out where to truly settle. I intended on checking everything off of my San Francisco bucket list within two years, exploring many Northern Californian sights and activities. At the very least, I would have idiomatic captions and pictures for Instagram with San Francisco’s beautiful views. As I reflect back on my beginning in San Francisco, 9-years later and still living here today, I can see how much God and following Him has been the foundation to my professional growth, and why San Francisco’s door opened for me.
Initially, I spent many nights filled with uncertainty, asking myself questions, such as: “How long should I give San Francisco?” “What’s next?” “Am I truly in the right field of work?” “Should I try a different neighborhood?” I felt that perhaps life at the time was a stepping stone to the place where everything would magically come together in a season of feeling joy and peace every day. With each holiday that arrived, I longed for a sense of home and tradition, both personally and professionally. There were a variety of paths or could-have-been opportunities that I sometimes got lost in, and I recognize that I sometimes overlooked the work that God needed me to do or what He was doing right in front of me.
I got plugged into a church in San Francisco quite quickly, and I felt my worlds colliding as I was welcomed by hospitable neighbors, even meeting someone who was a client of the firm I was working at. I began to recognize the true importance of living in community, and how even in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area, worlds and communities are intertwined. I started to see that we are called to show up to work in the same way that we show up to church on Sunday – faithful, authentic, accountable and kind.
Also early in my season in San Francisco, I met Denise Yohn, F&WJ Founder & Director, during a meet-and-greet at church. Although a brief interaction, her openness and conversational nature left an impression on me, and when years later, I saw an email from her about the F&WJ Program, I decided to enroll. The program deepened my understanding of how to integrate faith and work, and how to reflect grace and God’s love where we work. It also
allowed me to explore this with other professionals in a variety of fields with journeys very different from my own. One of my favorite aspects about the program was understanding how God has uniquely worked in others’ professional lives with many different gifts, unique talents, and styles of working.
I believe that our professional life is meant to be a journey, and there will be various seasons, some more challenging than others. Life on earth isn’t perfect, and it’s okay to not have all of the answers and to feel uncertain at times because that is part of the journey and growth that God intends for us here. Sometimes God’s will doesn’t necessarily mean going to something else, but it could also mean staying and growing for longer than we planned. Perhaps God is working through you to serve and love today in a different way than you might even realize. Perhaps He is preparing you for the next season by His work in the current season. I think that being future-focused and open to change is necessary, but it’s also important to not miss what we are intended to do presently.
As for the professional season that I am in today, it’s quite different than where I began. I now work in a medical philanthropy environment, where I continue to witness the power of community and serving others. I know if I had not gone through the prior seasons, I wouldn’t be who God needed me to be in the current season. As for what’s next, I’m still very much on the journey, and I haven’t closed San Francisco’s door. With the holiday season around the
corner and being newly married, I am looking forward to celebrating in community and helping others feel at home too.
by Leah (Burns) Park; F&WJ Alum