Honest Conversations with Wendy Cunningham
I lived in san diego for six years. Four years of college at San Diego State University, and then two years of trying desperately to make that degree in theater performance materialize into dollars and cents in the “real world.” As so many students discover, those first few years post-graduation were some of the hardest in my life.
I was terribly lost.
And it’s no wonder. From the time we’re five until we’re eighteen, we’re told where to go, when to show up, what to study, and how to succeed. If we do X and Y, we can expect Z results. Some of us go to college to continue in this vein—whether consciously or unconsciously. So long as we’re making it to class and pulling good (enough) grades, we can look our parents’ friends in the eye on Christmas break and have something compelling to report when they inevitably ask, “How are things going?”
Then, suddenly, we’re adults. We’re on our own.
No assigned schedule, no built-in friend groups, and no way of anticipating Z results. It truly is time to sink or swim. I did a little of both. I got my first full-time job, had an electric bill with my name on it, and learned how expensive health insurance is. I also realized that although I’d been an actress for fifteen years, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Just because it was all I knew didn’t mean it was necessarily what God had for me.
At the end of that first post-college year of trying to make it as an actress (and an adult), I was in a tremendous amount of debt. I knew I had two choices: keep trying to make acting work in San Diego or move “home” to Northern California and regroup. My bank account told me it was time to regroup, but after my going-away party, I decided not to leave San Diego after all. Instead, I temporarily moved into my friend’s dining room while I figured out my next move. Somehow, that sounded like a better plan.
Nine months later, I was really out of money and had no choice but to go back home and try to pull myself out of debt—and depression. But after my second going-away party, I still couldn’t get myself to leave sunny San Diego. So, I spent several more months moving around with my mattress and a bag of clothes, renting rooms, crashing on floors, and trying to figure out my life.
I remember standing outside of the most awful house from which I’d ever rented a room—a bachelor pad with four male friends and one bathroom—talking to a roommate about why I kept trying to leave San Diego.
“I know some people say that to move forward you might have to take a step backwards. Well, I’d rather stand still than take a step back,” I said. I believed moving back in with my mom in northern California was going in the wrong direction. I’d love to blame my flawed logic on the fact that I wasn’t a believer at that point in my life, but it was more about a limited perspective. I wonder if Christians don’t fall victim to the same fallacies. We forget that in God’s order, the world only spins forward. Our setbacks are just setups for our comebacks. I couldn’t see that God was trying to untether me from something I wasn’t meant to be clinging to.
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Wendy Cunningham is wife to Tom and homeschool mom to three amazing gifts from God. In addition to that calling, she is an entrepreneur and author. Her book What If You’re Wrong?, blog, and devotionals can be found at gainingmyperspective.com. She is also host of the podcast Gaining My Perspective. Wendy loves Jesus and inspiring people to step into their calling—whatever that might look like in this season. When she’s not working, writing, traveling, or podcasting, she can be found homesteading and chasing kids and cows on her farm in Middle Tennessee.