I first connected with Meaghan over social media. Our mutual friend pointed out that we both worked in magazines, both had a passion for telling stories, and both loved the Lord. After plenty of tweeting and tagging back and forth, we finally met up in person last winter for coffee at our mutually favorite cafe. Instant soul sister. I'm continually encouraged by Meaghan's faith and her wisdom beyond her years. She's sharing a snippet of her story below. Love you, Meg! — M
My name is Meaghan O'Connor and I currently live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a Digital Marketing and Social Media Specialist for Young Life, an international ministry non-profit. I spend my days scrolling through Instagram and climbing red rocks and mountains in my free time. If you would have asked me this time last year what my life would look like today, my guess wouldn't have been even close. I would have probably told you that I'd be living with roommates on the Upper West Side in New York City, chasing my dreams as an up-and-coming magazine journalist. Yep, just like I said, not even close.
After spending three years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I moved to New York City with the intention of staying there for a while. In fact, I was almost certain that New York City would be the place I'd develop my career, raise a family, and build a life. Ever since middle school, I dreamed of working for a major magazine. Seventeen, specifically, but since I knew how hard it was to get my foot in the door, I knew I'd be happy with any of the big ones. You know, the ones people recognize and buy regularly at the grocery store.
Something deep in me wanted to be recognized, too, I think.
Something deep in me wanted to be part of an industry that people were really impressed by. A superior, competitive, glamorous, and influential one. I was living with the suspicion that once I got in the door, once I had the job, once people knew my name, I'd be happy. Many of us live like that, I think. Like we're on a never-ending race to the next thing, the thing laid out before us that we think is going to make us happy. The cool and hard thing is that once we achieve those things, once we realize that those things will never really fully satisfy us, we are ultimately lead closer and closer to the only thing that does, Jesus Christ.
December of last year, I saw a random job posting on a Young Life social media page. Young Life is a religious non-profit dedicated to sharing the gospel with kids all the way from middle school through college. We're one of the largest international ministries in the world, operating in over 90 countries and in every corner of the United States. I had been involved with Young Life ever since I was in middle school, first as a student and then eventually as a leader while I was in college. I saw and experienced the deep impact that Young Life and my leader had on me while I was still growing, questioning, and learning about the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
I noticed that the people I met through Young Life were some of my closest friends. That they loved me and accepted me like I hadn't experienced before. That they were interested in my story, my scars, and my struggles. That instead of running away from those things, they would run straight into the mess. That they lived in a way that modeled Jesus Christ—full of abundant life, acceptance, and deep love.
I reached out to the HR department, hesitantly, knowing that the job was located in Colorado—many, many miles away from New York City. Early in the interview process, I was sure that nothing they would do or say could convince me to leave. Even though I loved Young Life, potentially more than any other organization I could think about working for, I was really scared to leave all of my magazine dreams and New York City behind. A few months in, however, I found myself on a plane to an in-person interview in Colorado Springs. I left the interview more certain than ever that I wanted the job. That I loved the team. That it was really the perfect fit for me.
Except that taking the job would mean that I'd have to leave New York.
They gave me a few weeks to make a decision. I think I knew in my heart, right after I left that interview, that I was going to do it. That I was going to take the job, go all in. Even still, I went back to New York City, my heart and head heavy with the thought of leaving. Of saying goodbye to friends and communities I'd been pouring into over the last few years. I was (and am still) the brand champion for investing in people, investing in places—even though you have no idea how long you are going to be there.
But back then, as I started to think about leaving, part of me wished I would have been a little more reserved. Prepared myself a little better for leaving. Because honestly, leaving felt like ripping off a really terrible Band-Aid. Like somehow, the Lord was playing a joke on me. Like he had convinced me to pour myself out in New York City, to make deep friendships and connections, all the while knowing I'd only be there for a few years.
I also felt overwhelmed with all the logistics, what it would take to quit my first job, to leave magazine journalism (potentially for good), to pack up all my things and move them across the country. It'd be a lot. And I think that during those few weeks, while I was still in "decision mode," I started to learn just how much power New York City had acquired over me over the past few years. The fact that I knew I wanted the job, but was letting a city stand in the way, proved that. It proved that New York City had become somewhat of an idol for me. I was looking to the city for happiness and fullness and pride. But it's a city. And it would would disappoint me. And in fact, it did, a lot. But it was almost like I was so blinded and in love with New York City that it was hard for me to see those things.
If you ask any of my friends about me, they'll tell you I love adventures. That new adventures and risks—things like moving across the country—fuel me. That I love the challenge of making new friends, building a new community, making new connections, falling in love with a different zip code. Those things are my jam.
But what people won't tell you is that all of those things, while wonderful, are also really hard. And my first few months in Colorado, after I finally decided to take the job, weren't perfect. (Regardless of how beautiful my Instagram page looked.) They were really hard. And full of loneliness and doubt.
As I was learning more about what it means to be brave, to embrace the unknown with arms wide open, Jesus was there to remind and reassure me that I am never alone. That He would provide everything I needed. That He'd help sort out all the logistical things. That being an important and influential magazine journalist wasn't actually going to give me any sense of worth. That I'm already famous in His eyes, and that's really all I need.