Ever since I moved to New York City regular phone calls to my parents are something I look forward to. Often times we find ourselves scanning through the flood of experiences and happenings that make up our everyday lives. During a recent phone call with my dad, he shared a light hearted comment made by a friend of his regarding New York City and its customs. The comment was this, “New York will beat you down and then drop a desk on you.”
This statement got me thinking. February will mark the six month my husband and I will have called New York City (Brooklyn to be exact) home. I thought of the transition from west coast to east coast, the expenses of living in the big apple, and everything else that has come along with our new residence. I asked myself, “Has New York beat me down and dropped a desk on me?” Well the answer came immediately…heck yeah it has. But as I started listing off the evidence of this claim I soon made a beautiful discovery. Being beat down and having a desk dropped on you can be a blessing in disguise, and for us that’s exactly what it was.
The Beat Down
Traffic lights, one way streets, street sweeping, parking meters, fire hydrants, parallel parking, people, more people–oh and did I say PEOPLE? Whenever you watch movies or shows based in NYC you see loads of people walking the streets, riding the subway, and out and about. I guess I thought because of how many people commute, owning two cars in a city like this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. WRONG. Our first beat down came with the unprecedented shower of orange tickets waiting happily under our windshield wipers.
Parking a car in New York City =Nightmare. Parking two cars in New York City=Death.
The list of restrictions for parking went on and on: Metered Parking here, No Parking there (only during certain times of the day of course), no parking within a fifteen feet radius of a fire hydrant (FIRE HYDRANTS ARE EVERYWHERE), Tow Away Zone, and my personal favorite, No Standing Anytime–the worst sign invented. It basically is saying your car is a person and cannot “stand” anytime where this sign is present. Oh you didn’t know cars could stand? Well prepare to be mind blown because they can. Yeah let’s just say we paid roughly $500 in parking tickets within our first month of living here. Matter of fact, I recall one day in particular my husband was ticketed $115 twice in one day (like I said before, FIRE HYDRANTS ARE EVERYWHERE).
The Desk Drop
The beat down was a drop in the bucket compared to the desk drop. We moved to New York City so my husband could accept a job offer. Due to miscommunications the pay for his new position didn’t kick in until later than expected. Waiting for his pay led to a great deal of adversity. Our living expenses had tripled from that of our small town in Utah, to that of Brooklyn, New York–a city housing a large portion of the world’s wealthiest people.
Needless to say, paying for day to day living expenses proved challenging. Money was tighter than ever before and food turned into a sore topic neither of us enjoyed bringing up. Oatmeal soon became my best friend. If I wanted a snack, I ate oatmeal. When dinner time rolled around, I ate oatmeal. Let’s just say my stomach became well acquainted with a warm bowl of mushy oats. (Not to complain, I love oatmeal still to this day!)
After awhile we were out of options and felt forced to seek assistance from The Bishops Storehouse, a food pantry created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for members who are struggling financially. When the day came to access these services, my husband had to work, so I drove the short distance to the storehouse by myself.
As I helped the workers load my trunk with food I noticed a large bag over-flowing with fruit. “We love fruit, but there is too much here. It will go bad. Someone else could eat this–could need this.” was my thought. I waved down the lady checking off the list of items being carried to the car. I explained to her my predicament with taking so much fruit and asked her to take some back. She refused to do so and with a smirk replied in a thick New York accent, “If it’s on the list, you take it.”
I don’t know what it was about this moment. Maybe it was watching the food get loaded into the car–food I did not pay for, did not earn. Maybe it was the wave of home sickness which washed over me after hearing her speak. Maybe it was just one of those emotionally imbalanced days. Either way, whatever it was, it unhinged me and as soon as I closed my car door tears flooded down my cheeks. I sobbed and sniveled the whole way home. I hated New York.
The Blessing in Disguise
I will admit, after all this there were moments I questioned the soundness in our decision to move to New York City. We felt inspired by our Heavenly Father to move here, but the chain of events which followed our submission to his will seemed incoherent to the loving, gracious nature we believed Him to possess. Why would he send us here if he knew all this would happen? It just didn’t make sense. In some ways, we felt cheated.
The blessing in disguise started with the beat down–a crucial component. The comment my dad’s friend made about New York City said the individual would first be beaten down and then a desk would be dropped on them. Hence, the desk being dropped on us wouldn’t have been nearly as traumatic without the beat down. The beat down had to happen. I could see how at first glance this doesn’t seem like a blessing in disguise, but that leads me to my next point.
Often times in my life I will experience heartache and then soon after experience something far worse. This can be likened to the desk being dropped. Why does this happen? IF GOD IS REAL, why would he allow for us–metaphorically speaking–to be beaten down and then for a desk to be dropped on our pained, bruised bodies shortly thereafter? WHY? The answer…Familiarity breeds complacency, complacency hinders growth, growth brings us closer to God, and a closeness to God brings us joy.
Some of you may be thinking, well why does He go so far at times? Isn’t the beat down enough to encourage less complacency and more growth? This answer is simple, God loves us so much that he is willing to do whatever it takes to wake us up–to push us towards becoming better people, towards becoming the people he knows we can become. My tribulations in New York City forced me to grow. I prayed without ceasing. I found the patience to endure. I counted my blessings. I loved my husband fiercely. I focused more on those around me, less on myself. I smiled when I wanted to cry. New York’s beat down and dropped desk brought me closer to God and to my deepest, truest self–something I had never experienced before. I learned to be happy without all the extra “stuff” or without things going just the way I wanted.
May God bless you–whoever you are.
Kelsey With Some Jo
P.S. We ended up eating all the fruit The Bishops Storehouse gave us. It’s okay to accept help from people sometimes. It takes someone with courage to do so! Don’t let shame or self-pity keep you from allowing others to serve you. They are furthering their relationship with God by so doing. ❤