The last time I visited my friend Lauryn and her husband in San Diego they had a huge puzzle that covered their coffee table, not entirely pieced together, that they would work on randomly. While I visited them I spent a bit of time messing with the pieces trying to find where they belonged. It reminded me I enjoy puzzles.
I’ve always viewed life as a puzzle. I mean, that’s pretty much what it’s like, isn’t it? We spend so much time searching for the missing pieces. The job, the spouse, the kids, the purpose. You can often feel the ache where the missing piece is.
Seven years ago I spontaneously decided to go on a trip to Sydney, Australia with a bunch of strangers and work alongside Hillsong. My dad, loved this idea. My mom, was horrified. I left what felt like a perfect little teenaged life with the perfect friends and spend a chunk of my summer in 2007 with people I had just met, serving in whatever way we were asked to serve. The night I said goodbye to those strangers at the end of the trip is still probably one of the hardest times I’ve ever cried in my life. And for nearly a year I hurt for those new friends, those memories, that city on the other side of the world, and that amazing church we got to work with.
Life had forever changed.
In all the years that passed there was always something about the topic of Hillsong church or Hillsong United’s music that would twist my heart with a longing.
I credited that trip to Hillsong as what made me realize I had a heart for the inner-city, figured that was the greater purpose of that trip. That it had led me to spending years with my Detroit girls, also one of the greatest things to happen to my life. That it paved the way to my heart breaking for Los Angeles and moving my life across the country.
Probably a dozen times over the years have I pulled out my laptop and looked up Hillsong College, began the application and always hit the point where I would feel a strong, “No, that’s not it.” I would close my laptop and assume there was something else I was supposed to do. As much as Hillsong always felt like home in my heart I just wasn’t called to be anywhere there was a Hillsong church.
Back in September when Hillsong announced they were launching a church in Los Angeles I could see the ghost of a puzzle piece in my life about to be filled. From the first gathering back in January to our first official church service last night, I have felt a huge puzzle piece of my life filled in.
The church I’ve longed for has come to the city I’m in love with and my heart overflows with joy.
Most incredible though, is how many stories are just like mine for the people involved in Hillsong LA. For so many of us, this is years in the making.