my move to toronto

I guess the title gives it away, but it is in fact true: I’ve moved to Toronto! There are so many things that I feel I want to say about this move and about this new season of life, so please bear with me as I attempt to articulate a million thoughts and feelings in a semi-cohesive manner.

Last year at about this time life got hard real fast, and I talk more about that season here. But what I really want to focus on in this post is the art of looking back and seeing God’s faithfulness, and I feel that it’s appropriate to start with this very summarized story:

God used a conversation that was had at my grandpa’s funeral to bring me a networking opportunity in Toronto. That meeting led to four others. Then one of those meetings led to another which led to a job interview. I left that interview with a three-month contract offer. At the same time, I had been interviewing for a role with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, which felt all too surreal and timely because that was my grandpa’s diagnosis. Because of timelines and acceptance deadlines, I had to decide whether to accept the Toronto position or pursue the BTFC opportunity – not knowing if I’d actually get it. I decided to accept the Toronto role, despite the uncertainty of whether or not it would turn into a long-term position. In early December, my contract turned into a full-time permanent position and Toronto officially became a part of the longer-term plan.

Now I have to backtrack even further. Exactly two years ago is when I started my second co-op position for school. My manager asked me if I wanted to travel with her to Toronto to attend a meeting. I said yes (of course). That day will forever be etched in my mind. It was that meeting where I sat in a high-rise looking at all of Toronto. It was that day that I left the meeting convinced that Toronto was supposed to be a part of my story. And it was that day that I called my mom in tears of joy, because I felt like I had a vision for my life and my career. That meeting, on that day, was a small seed being planted in my heart – little did I know God would bear the fruit of that seed exactly two years later.

I have to add that during my summer of unemployment (2018)  there were job interviews and potential opportunities that came up, but they didn’t feel right. That was one of the hardest things to navigate because I didn’t know if the gut feeling I had to hold out for something better was from God or my ego. I felt awful turning down or sabotaging opportunities (literally did both), when the very night before I was crying out to God asking for deliverance.

Somehow, I clung to this notion that I could take the opportunities that arose and thank God for them, and I’m sure He would’ve blessed those decisions too – OR – I could take a dare on God. I could lean into this overwhelming sense that I was made for more, that I had been waiting for more, that God is a God who gives us dreams and desires, and that He has the power to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

And that’s what He did.

The Wait

A year later, I’m here in Toronto. This dream looks a lot differently than I initially thought it would, but it’s so much better that way. Had this happened any earlier, I don’t think I’d be giving God as much glory for bringing it to fruition. Had it come any later, I think my mental and emotional exhaustion from commuting for four hours each day would have destroyed me.

Waiting for this to happen allowed Toronto to take its rightful position in my heart. I experienced three months of potential roommates coming and going, enough apartment viewings that I’m convinced I’ve been in 10% of all buildings in the downtown core, lots of coffee dates with strangers, responding to random Kijiji and Facebook ads, and the hardest part – surrendering closed and open doors to the Lord. Needless to say, I had seen and been here enough that I didn’t idolize it anymore. I see the outwardly broken parts of this city just as much as the outwardly put together parts. My desire shifted from the seeming prestige associated with living in a big city, to fully acknowledging that I’d be needing to ask God to grant me compassion for who and what I’d see here, and to break my heart for what breaks His.

I have lived quite a comfortable life. I have been safe, protected, and cared for. And I am so thankful for that. But I also know that I need to be challenged. I need something that will push me outside my comfort zone, force me into elements of independence that I haven’t needed before, and allow me to build a community, routine, and “normal” that is unique to me.

This new chapter feels more like a dialogue between God and I than anything else, so I rest in that and I protect that. I lay down this season, fully anticipating that it will not be easy, but that it will be fruitful. And what more could I really ask for?

The Takeaway

I don’t share this story as merely an update. I share it because I’m convinced that talking about God’s faithfulness in our lives is how we mutually encourage and build up one another. This process was long and incredibly painful at times. Not just mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. I didn’t feel like myself towards the end of it. There were lots of tears, stemming from exhaustion and deep disappointment. There was confusion and doubt because when my timeline wasn’t matching God’s, I couldn’t help but wonder if Toronto was a pipe dream that I needed to let go of.

Beyond that, I experienced having to dig into community, but also not overvalue it. I asked the people closest to me if I was doing something wrong, if I was misinterpreting my convictions, if I was being unreasonable, and if I was willing something to happen that simply wasn’t meant to be. And at the very same time, I knew that people and their opinions were not my truth and not my compass.

It’s during these times in our lives where we have to let everything else fall away. We need to mute the dialogue we’re receiving from the world, we need to exercise caution and discernment when listening to what other people say about our lives, and we need to amplify, exalt, and cling relentlessly to the Word of God, to the Holy Spirit within us, and to the unique, individual, and specific ways the Lord speaks to us.

So I want to encourage you by saying that God is writing your story. Sometimes He introduces us to people and places in early chapters that don’t become main parts of the story until many chapters later. Just like there’s white space between chapters, we often have to endure blank, wordless realities before God reveals our next steps to us. Authors have plans for their characters, and God has plans for us. He knows the plot completely and fully – from beginning to end. And He knows how to write stories worth reading, in fact, He’s really good at it. So trust the Author. Even when all hope seems lost, especially when all hope seems lost. It’s always the darkest before the dawn, but His faithfulness is fresh as the morning and sure as the sunrise.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “there I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:21-26

And to the reader out there who feels so deeply that they were made for more, this is for you.

Do not settle. Let no one and no thing diminish the passion and fire within your soul, because I’m convinced you have a flame fuelled by the One who made you. When the thought of settling keeps you up at night and when small moments inspire big action within you, thank the Lord for stretching your faith and giving you a vision. And whether He brings what you dream of to fruition or not, take every opportunity you’ve been given to learn more about who your God is.

Take that dare on God. Pray big prayers and dream big dreams. Who knows, maybe one day – two years later… 10 years later… or 50 years later… you’ll find yourself sitting in that apartment, looking at the night sky lit up by pretty city lights, and you’ll be able to say with confidence that the Lord your God did all of it.

And it will all be so good, so very good.

2 thoughts on “my move to toronto

  1. Amen and amen Oliveah–Praise the Lord. We have been praying God would provide so your commute would not be so long and he has. In His time and in His way. We will continue to pray that your heart will see Toronto through God’s eyes and your hands to do His will there. Remember the armour you need to have for everyday.
    Love, Aunt Helen


  2. Thank you for these kind and encouraging words, Aunt Helen! Hope you’re doing well and looking forward to the next time we can get together.


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