When I Moved Away From Everything I Knew

It was a murky spring day in Minnesota. Piles of snow remained on the roadsides peppered with dirt and sand from a long winter. As far as I knew, it was simply another day at a job I didn’t love. But at times like these, when we least expect, whole new possibilities burst into the scene.

I didn’t want to be there, selling cameras in an electronics store, in the city I grew up in, living in my parents’ house just like I did in high school. College graduates are not supposed to move backward, but it felt like I’d moved a few steps in the wrong direction.


An Unexpected Intervention

Around the middle of my shift, I spoke with a customer about the DSLR camera options my store offered. We realized we shared a few common interests, including music and faith. After ringing up the purchase, he prayed for me. Specifically, he prayed that I would find a new job I loved, in a career I wanted to pursue.

I returned home after my shift that day, grateful for the encouragement of a stranger, but still frustrated with my situation. I was still stuck where I didn’t want to be. I wanted to move to a distant big city, work a fun career and move forward with my life. I expected God would bring that change, but I thought He would’ve done it a lot sooner than the 8 months I spent wishing for an escape from my hometown.

The Call

That afternoon, I received a call from a 541 area code phone number.

In a state of desperation, I’d applied for scores, maybe 100 jobs in broadcasting, with companies located all around the nation. I had grown accustomed to assuming I’d never get a return call, but I hastily answered the phone without giving it much thought.

I couldn’t believe it.

The voice on the other end of the phone told me a job was waiting for me. The only barrier to accepting the job offer was relocating to that city.

A city in Oregon. A city I’d never been to. A city 2,000 miles away.

I set down the phone when the call ended. I stood frozen, half-expecting myself to awaken from a dream.

Was I finally offered a job in radio I wanted so badly?

Did I really just agree to move away from everything and everyone I’d ever known?

That evening, I told my family over dinner and shared the news with my friends over a late night conversation.

The moment finally arrived.

A whole new opportunity was before me, but it didn’t look how I expected it to. I wondered if God wanted this for me, if I was supposed to take it or stay, comfortable and connected in my hometown.

I thought about the man who prayed for me earlier that day, if his prayer was some powerful kind of prayer that really changed things. I wondered if God always listened to the man who happened to pray for me that day, about my job and my life’s direction.

A few weeks later, my car was shipped westward, packed to the brim with the makings of my new beginning. And on a sunny April day, I stepped out of the airplane, onto the tarmac, looking 360 degrees around me.

I was in Oregon, and the mountains gave their resolute welcome.

– – –

That was 4 years ago.

Oregon was not what I thought it would be.


In many ways, my expectations were found lacking. I could not have known all my life would include when I moved to Oregon, how its people would welcome me and influence me, how independent coffee would ruin my palate for anything less, how the mountains would whisper my name more and more. I did not expect to learn so much about my flaws and my strengths, to be challenged in the ways I was, or to meet the kind of woman I met there.

I expected a job and a path forward in my life. I got far more than I bargained for, and arguably, I learned things in Oregon I would never have learned if I stayed in my Minnesotan hometown.

What Mattered More

When it came down to it, I thought about the kind of life I wanted to live, and I decided I was not going to be defined by comfort and ease. I would not allow what was familiar to keep me from what I needed to do.

I took a risk to transport my life into an unknown space, and I found God was there long before I arrived. And knowing He was with me on the journey, in that new chapter of my story, was the assurance I needed far more than a job or a career.

Your Story

I hope you find that, too, as you face decisions large and small, embracing new jobs and endeavors and places.

In every chapter of your variable life, I hope you find God’s been with you and leading you all along.



What major life transitions have you gone through? How did those changes impact who you are today?



Did you enjoy this post?
This story is part of my book about growing through relationships, facing change and enduring conflict. Learn more about my book here and subscribe to my email updates here. Thanks!

7 responses to “When I Moved Away From Everything I Knew

  1. This was incredibly inspiring, especially for someone who feels the notion to move and study in another country.

    “I took a risk to transport my life into an unknown space, and I found God was there long before I arrived.”

    This floored me. Thank you for posting this. My journey has been posted on my WordPress page as well. I hope, as a writer, you enjoy it.

  2. So good John! My journey was somewhat similar when I moved away from all of my family, boyfriend and friends in sunny Southern California to a whole new job, roommates & lifestyle in South Carolina. I had never pictured myself living on this side of the country & I still don’t consider it to be “my style” but similar to you, there’s been so much growth in my life because of it. I’ve had to come face-to-face with what I felt made me feel secure in life. I have been able to see the love of God in such a big way. He’s provided for me every step and continues to stick by my side even when I feel so far from everything & everyone I love most.

    • That’s a great snapshot of your story, Kelsey! The biggest changes in our lives definitely make huge impacts, and God shows up the biggest in those spaces.
      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  3. This is great John! I admire your drive to step forward. My relocation looked more like God dragging me from the desert rather than my actually walking away from it toward Oregon. I have been influenced and changed by the northwest in ways that never would have happened in Arizona. I consider Oregon home now and can’t really see myself ever going backward to where I was.

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