Most of us grew up hearing the old adage, “When God shuts one door, He opens a window,” (or something to that effect—I’ve never been great at idioms). This saying has probably provided great comfort to many of us along the way, because we trust that God, or the universe, or [insert cosmic force here], has a plan, when things don’t pan out the way we’d hoped. After all, if God works out all things for our good like Romans 8:28 says He does, doesn’t that mean He has good for us in the big fat N-Os too?
My parents would have you believe I don’t take well to the word “no.” It’s undoubtedly why they told me I should go to law school from the ripe age of 5. (Who tells a five-year-old she should go to law school? They weren’t wrong.) For some reason, I have a lot easier time hearing “no” from God… Maybe an easier time than I should.
When I went to law school, I was certain upon graduation I was destined for the first plane to a rural African village. I’d stand up for the young woman getting kicked off her land for the audacious act of being a female land-owner. And then I would help her start an enterprise of some sort. (I hadn’t done the market research yet—that I’d save for after law school.) Or swap out Africa and land snatching for South Asia and human trafficking—I wasn’t picky on the place and cause, I just wanted to go, and I wanted to empower women. I was pretty optimistic applying for my first internships,
but all I got were some big, sturdy, closed doors.
I was re-reading the book, Love Does, by Bob Goff the other day. (And when I say “re-reading,” you can safely assume I highly recommend it.) In one chapter, he describes how he sat on the bench outside the dean’s office of his law school all day, every day, for literally two weeks straight. He hadn’t gotten into law school, and every time the dean would walk outside, he would remind the dean he had the power to grant him admission with the simple words, “Go buy your books!” Bob Goff was confident God had instilled the desire in his heart to become a lawyer, and although God had closed the door, he felt like God wanted him to kick it down. KICK. IT. DOWN. When I did not get into Harvard Law School, I did not kick down that door. It didn’t even occur to me. I only applied because my parents made me. I told them it was a waste of money, and when I received my rejection letter in the mail, I believe I threw it away with a snarky “told you so” type comment. (It might even have been an email I deleted, but you get the gist.)
When I moved to Dallas after law school, I was sure God had closed the doors to working abroad. I didn’t apply anywhere outside the states. For that matter, I pretty much just applied to one office and stayed until they hired me. They didn’t give me a job after my first interview, but they graciously let me stay as an unpaid intern. For how long, you ask? Fourteen months. I interned for fourteen months, (and another round of interviews), until they hired me, because I was confident in my heart that I needed to kick down that door.
Then, two years after I got the job, we found out Alec and I had the opportunity to go to India for his away rotation.
So I quit. I quit the job I interned fourteen months to get.
There was always a part of me that wondered if I took those closed doors of going abroad too easily. Was God saying "no," or did I actually just chicken out? You better believe I jumped at the opportunity this time, and I’m grateful I didn’t kick that door down sooner. Dallas is where I fell in love with Alec, where I learned calligraphy, and where I met some of my dearest friends.
So how do we know when to kick? At the end of the day, not everyone SHOULD go to law school. (Most people hate it anyway.) If I ever have to apply to another job, I’ll probably apply to several places! And God has closed many doors I saw fit to leave closed. (We can rarely condone kicking down an ex-boyfriend’s door, after all. Rarely.) I think we kick down those closed doors only when we have deep conviction firmly rooted in truth, and have the support of our community.