JBU Stories - Lynn Christensen

The heart of JBU is our people. Here are their stories.

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After finishing her MBA at JBU, Lynn Christensen took time to hike the historic El Camino, as well as study at the L'Abri Institute and have some time of reflection.

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"A lot of my friends and family were like, "What? You're going to go travel in Europe by yourself? Wait, no." But it was really good.

Show Transcript

Julie: Welcome to the JBU Stories podcast. I'm your host, Julie Gumm, Director of University Marketing and Communications at John Brown University. I'm also an alum and a current parent, so I get to see JBU from all sides. The heart of JBU is really our people. Our students, alumni, faculty and staff. The JBU Stories podcast is where we get to introduce you to these amazing people and hear their stories.

Julie: On today's episode of the podcast, we're going to talk to alumni Lynn Christensen. When most students are starting their first job right out of school, or possibly moving back home while still job hunting, Lynn did something a little bit different. She took off on a several month trip to hike the historic El Camino, as well as study at the L'Abri Institute and have some time of reflection. So, we're going to talk to Lynn about what that journey taught her and what she's going to do going forward.

Julie: Welcome, Lynn, to the JBU Stories podcast.

Lynn: Thank you, Julie. It's great to be here.

Julie: Why don't you start off a little bit, just tell us a little bit about yourself, how you came to be at JBU as a student?

Lynn: Sure. So, like Julie said, my name is Lynn Christensen. I'm originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I came to John Brown, gosh, I guess in 2013, and started my marketing program at the College of Business, and I came to JBU. I had looked all over, I had looked at a bunch of different colleges across the US, both state schools and private universities, and I was just really drawn by John Brown when I visited. Just the kindness of the people here, everyone made me feel so welcome, I had a great admissions counselor who really made the process super easy for me during that really stressful time. And when I came on campus, it was like I saw the people hanging in hammocks, and a lot of people in shorts and Chacos, and I was like, "These are my people! I have to come here!" So, that was mostly what did it.

Julie: Awesome, and then, so you graduated in, what would that have been with your undergrad? 2017?

Lynn: It was 2017.

Julie: Okay, and then you chose to go on and do a graduate program at JBU. Tell us about the program you chose and why you chose that field.

Lynn: Sure, so with my graduate program, I chose an MBA in design thinking and innovation, so actually my first year of the program, because it's a two-year program, the design thinking and innovation track was brand new. So, my graduating class was actually the first class to graduate with that emphasis, and I chose that field because when I was a senior studying business as an undergrad, I took the class strategic management, and worked with a team to build a new venture business, which I'm sure many people remember the strategic management experience. So, we did that, and with our project we went on to compete at local competitions, as well as international business competitions, and through that process the research really elevated.

Lynn: For the consumer research, we had to do the experience research, we prototyped our idea, and just this whole thing, so through that process, because I was the marketer, and the fake CEO of the company, all that research initiative fell on me, and I later learned through my master's program that that kind of research falls under design thinking, under the design research umbrella. And as stressful as strategic management was, I also loved the process and I loved the research component of it, so that experience really took me directly into my master's, which now is taking me into my career, so it's great.

Julie: Awesome. And we'll talk about that. You've just kind of got a new job lined up.

Lynn: I did.

Julie: Tell us a little bit about that. We're going to circle back to it at the end, too, but tell us a little bit about what you're going to be doing now.

Lynn: Sure, so when I was a student, John Brown was really great about encouraging just a lot of different internships, so throughout my academic career, both as an undergrad and grad, I had various internships, and one of them as a grad student, I interned with a company in Portland, Oregon, called Digimarc, and they make imperceptible and redundant barcodes. Data carriers. It has a lot of different use cases, but anyway, it's a cool company, so I interned back with them last summer, and then I just got hired with them as the new product marketing and research specialist for the company, and will be doing a lot of the design research for this cool corporate company.

Julie: So, you graduated in May with your master's, but before you set out heavy on the job hunt and all of that sort of stuff, you did something very different, and so tell us about how did the idea of taking this trip kind of first start for you?

Lynn: Yeah, so like you mentioned, I went on a big, grand adventure this past summer, so I graduated in May 2019 with my MBA degree, and before I started work, I went on this three-and-a-half-month adventure. So, I had kind of known that within myself, I've wanted to go backpack Europe since I was like 12 years old, but just when I got into school, I was like, "Oh, I could never afford it." And just got way too into career stuff, and I was like, "No, I don't have the time for that. I need to quick get busy and get to work."

Lynn: But as my, because I went straight into my graduate program after my undergrad program, but I kind of made a deal with myself. I was like, "When I graduate with my MBA, I'm definitely going to go travel for a bit." The thought behind it was it had been something that I really wanted to do, and now was the time to do it. And when I was in Portland for Spring Break right before I graduated, my former boss at this company, Digimarc, she really just was sitting with me and we were talking about my future, and she just really encouraged me to go travel, which was kind of surprising, because this particular boss, her name's Amy, she's been really successful in her career, and I kind of expected her to be like, "Okay. Time to crack down."

Julie: Next thing. Yeah.

Lynn:  Next thing. And a lot of people also encouraged me, "No, don't go traveling. Quick, get to work. You've worked so hard, just get into it." But yeah, instead I decided to take this trip, and went off on my own, which a lot of my friends and family were like, "What? You're going to go travel in Europe by yourself? Wait, no." But it was really good.

Julie: So, tell us, the first part of that was traveling to El Camino, so tell us what that is and why you chose that as part of your trip.

Lynn: Sure, so the El Camino, or the Camino de Santiago, it's referred both ways, is relatively unfamiliar to many Americans, but when you're in Europe, it's very common for people to know what it is. But it basically is one of Europe's oldest pilgrimage sites, because it's believed that Santiago de Compostela, where the pilgrimage ends, is where Saint James is buried, so it's this massive, beautiful, I've never seen a cathedral like it. It is seriously, it probably takes up like two city blocks or more than that. It is giant, and so beautiful, but it's believed that that's where Saint James is buried.

Lynn: So, there's actually all of these various trails, so to speak, all throughout Northern Spain, and even one that goes from Portugal. You actually can go to Santiago pretty much from anywhere in Europe, and some people have done that. It's like you find people on the trail and you're like, "Oh, so where did you start?" And they're like, "Belgium." You're like, "Oh my gosh." But yeah, it's really, the El Camino is Northern Spain, one of Northern Spain's primary industries in the summertime. And in recent years, it's become a massive tourist kind of destination.

Lynn: But the one I chose is called the Del Norte, and so the northern route, and that takes about five weeks to do. The whole trail is in kilometers, but in miles, it would be about 860. Yeah, 860 kilometers.

Julie: Okay, and you originally, though, were set out, and you were going to do a shorter portion of it. Was that because you weren't sure what you could tackle? Because that's a physically grueling trip. How many miles did you hike every day?

Lynn: Miles, so kilometers-wise-

Julie: Or kilometers.

Lynn: Kilometers. Sorry, kilometers would be on a long day between 30, 32 kilometers on a really long day, and so in miles, that would be about 20 miles in a day. Oh yeah, so you asked why did I choose a longer portion.

Julie: Yeah.

Lynn: Yeah, so the Frances, the French way is the most popular of the El Camino routes. It's the one that everyone does, and they start just in St. Jean Pied de Port, which is just in France over the Pyrenees. But I did a lot of research on all the different routes I wanted to do. The Norte had less people. It was closer to the coast. It's supposed to be more scenic, more beautiful. It's cooler weather, because the French way goes through the Meseta desert. So, that's why I chose that one, and I literally... I kind of had just like a month and a half to plan my trip, and I was taking two grad classes at the time, so it was not a lot of time.

Lynn: And so, my sweet, sweet grandparents, they knew how important this trip was to me, so they gave me the miles for this trip, and they're like, "All right, what are the dates you want it to be?" And I was like, "Whatever." So, I just kind of made up the dates, and it was like 14 weeks.

Julie: Like, "Got to fill the time somehow!"

Lynn: And I was like, "Got to fill the time somehow." And obviously I didn't have a lot of money, and doing the El Camino is super economical, because, well, Spain's a really cheap country. The food is very cheap. And then as you stay, you go along and you stay each night in an albergue, which is Spanish for hostel, and there's all these different albergues that are for pilgrims only, and you have to have this little passport to prove that you're a pilgrim, because they don't want tourists staying there. And because it's a pilgrimage, a lot of them still stick to this donativo, donation-type of payment structure.

Lynn: Some don't. Some you have to pay like 10 euro, but the donativo ones are you donate what you think, but it's like five euro a night, and some of the hospilataros, they do it out of their homes, and they will cook food for you, and for everyone, every pilgrim who's staying there, they'll make delicious food. And one sweet, sweet man, we got there that day, and he was like, "Okay, everyone." He's checking us in. He's like, "I'll do laundry tonight for all of you, but just of the clothes that you wore today." But doing laundry on a trail is like so hard, so you just stink and you're horrible. But this sweet man washed all our clothes.

Julie: Taking advantage of that. So, you're on this journey, and you're walking, and obviously you're coming across different people from different places, too. But you're also probably alone a lot of the time. What did you spend that alone time doing? Because obviously, there's thoughts going on in your head and all of that sort of stuff.

Lynn: Yeah, of course. So, yeah, I did start out the Camino by myself, which the first day was massive culture shock, because I had gone from Ireland, where everyone speaks English, which was great, and then I landed in France, and no one in France would speak to me in English, and I did take French, but it was like I suddenly forgot it all. So, it was very hard to navigate, and then I didn't know how to use public transportation really, so I ended up walking from France to Spain, which was like just a few miles. It wasn't that bad.

Lynn: But then these sweet people, they kind of adopted me into their Camino group the first week, and they were like Camino pros. This was their third Camino that they were doing, like three of them had found each other on their first Camino and had done the whole thing. It was so sweet, because I was sitting there waiting to get into my albergue, and get my pilgrim passport, and I was kind of like a bucket of stress, and these people, they look at me and one of them, this British lady, Cheryl, she look sat her friend Angie, who's from New Zealand, and is like, "Hey, Angie, can we adopt Lynn into our group?" I actually think she said, "Can we keep her?"

Lynn: And so, the first week, and kind of along the way, I started walking with this group of stranger people that I had met, who had adopted me. And then after the first week, we all kind of split up, and then you find other people along your way. Walked with this German lady, she didn't speak very much English. But yeah, you do spend some of your time walking by yourself. Even if you're with people, you spend a lot of time walking by yourself. You know, you'll see pictures of the Camino with people in front of you and people behind you, and kind of this staggered group of walking, and so it's both you have time to commune with the people you're walking with, with strangers, and that's honestly... I didn't really meet that many people who were doing this trail for pilgrimage reason. A lot of them... Every single person I met was in some type of season of transition. Quit their job, marriage, or whatever. But a lot of people, even like retired people do it because they love the friendships that you meet and the community that you have is a real reason for doing it.

Lynn: But when I was walking alone, there was just a... Of course, with anyone, any season of transition, I had just finished grad school. My last year of grad school was pretty hard from a mental health standpoint for me, so just kind of had a lot of time to think, and reflect, and be with myself, but also I think it's really good to have that time away, but it's kind of weird. It's like you swap your full-time job of 8:00 to 5:00, typing emails, doing real-life stuff, and then you go walking, and you're like, "Oh my gosh, I'm walking for eight hours. I'm walking 10 hours. I'm walking a full work day." For 20 miles a day it's like, "Oh, my full-time job is now walking, and I'm just thinking to myself."

Lynn: So, you have to be careful, because too much time alone in your head is not good, either, so I joked. I was like, "You know, eventually it kind of can become like there are vultures in your head, and that's your own voice, so you kind of have to shut that down sometimes." It's good to think, but sometimes you have to shut it down, so I actually listened to audiobooks some.

Julie: Okay. Yeah.

Lynn: And that really helped a lot. I listened to The Alice Network on the trail. I don't know if you've read it, but oh, it's so good. I actually wrote a lot, so in every country I went to, I journaled quite a bit, and it's so fun, because I'm actually hoping to write a book from my travels.

Julie: Oh, cool.

Lynn: Yeah, and I got pretty good at typing while I walked, so I would journal on my phone, and so I'd do some of that, too.

Julie: I probably would have twisted an ankle or something like that.

Lynn: Yeah.

Julie: So, you had set out to do this big, full, five weeks, but then you kind of had some physical difficulties that came along, and you ended up stopping early. Talk about that, what happened, how that affected you, having to quit early. Not quit, but stop early.

Lynn: Sure. Yeah, so what's great about the Camino is a lot of people do it for different stretches at a time, and it's really rare in life that someone has five weeks off that they can go literally hike through Northern Spain. So, a lot of people do sections. I had wanted to do the whole thing, and I had budgeted that time in my trip for it, but in all my research of the different trails... I mean, I'll be honest. When people were writing about the Northern Way, they were like, "Oh, well, it's by the coast. It's coastal. There's definitely a lot more hills." But I was like, "Oh, like California hills. The nice, grassy, rolling hills." L-O-L.

Julie: They're mountains.

Lynn: I get there and I'm like, "These are mountains." And I'm an active person, went to Colorado a lot. These were legit mountains, and what's hilarious to me is the Spanish did not believe in switchbacks. Like, "Why go back and forth if you can go straight up this mountain?" And when you're walking on the Camino, you have your whole backpack full of stuff-

Julie: Right, you're living out of your backpack for five weeks. Yeah.

Lynn: It's so funny, because I called my backpack Turtle, because I was like Turtle is my home. It's my shell on my back, and it's going with me all the places. So, the inclines were really steep, especially the first week. On the Camino in the northern route that I was doing, you walk through four Spanish provinces. States, basically. And the first one is Basque Country, and it actually starts in France and goes through Spain, but it is like a baby Switzerland, or like Austria, and that's the first week.

Lynn: I had done some training, and I had been working out a lot last year, like I was in pretty good shape. It was killer. My first day was probably the hardest physical day of the Camino, like up and down, up and down, up and down, cross a ferry, cross this thing, up and down, up and down. For like, I don't know, I think we probably walked like 25 miles that day, and it was the first day. It was so hard. So, not only do you go straight up, but then as straight up as you go, you also go straight down, because all the towns are settled in the valleys. So, you hike through these peaks and stuff, but you go to the towns in the valleys is how the trail goes.

Lynn: So, just the combination of going up was cardiovascularly hard on my body, but going down, that constant jutting motion of your knees was what was hard on me. So, I actually injured my knee the first week of the Camino, which we had done about 100 miles that week or more, and I kept walking on it for two weeks, and just... I kind of expected that the inclines and stuff would level out at some point.

Julie: Right. Yeah.

Lynn: And just no. It was just a constant up and down, like you know those heart rate signs? So, yeah, I actually did decide to quit. I had walked about 27 days, so that was almost like... I was like 400 miles.

Julie: Almost four weeks. Yeah.

Lynn: So, I've got like two weeks left of the Camino, but I decided to quit because my last day I was walking, and I was in so much excruciating, agonizing pain, and I had been in that for a few days, but just could hardly put in more than like 12 miles. And I was walking up a hill, and I was by myself in this pretty remote part of Spain, and my knee gave out on me, and I fell over. It was like me, and I was listening to this book, and I was like, "All right, I just have to stop, because what am I going to do? Push forward and get to Santiago, but then I've got permanent damage for the rest of my life?"

Lynn: But it was a hard decision. A, because I had wanted to, but B, because I had been logging my journal time on Instagram, and doing fun videos, and updates, so people were pretty invested in my trip, and to quit felt like cheating, and you feel like such a quitter, or just like a weenie. You're like, "I can't believe I have to quit." And I have to tell all these people I'm quitting. But, I mean obviously everyone was understanding ultimately I had to do what was good for me.

Julie: Right. Yeah.

Lynn: And I ended up using that extra time. I did go to Santiago, because this Italian lady, she was so sweet, she told me in Italian, but I understood what she meant. She said, "You have to feel your dream. You have to see it and taste it." So, I did go to Santiago. I took a bus, and I walked in, and it wasn't as triumphant as some of those other people who had gotten there, and they're like, "Oh my gosh, I made it to Santiago." But I saw the cathedral and I made this deal, like I'm coming back. I'm going to finish this.

Julie: Well, and you talked too about one of the things, you alluded to it a little bit, is the mental health and some of those aspects that come around, and we'll come back to that in a minute, too. It's hard to admit, but there's strength in admitting when you can't finish something. I mean, we feel weak when we do it, but the truth is it takes more courage and more strength sometimes to say no, the best thing for me is the thing I don't want to admit, or the thing I don't want to do, or giving up on part of this dream.

Lynn: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Julie: Or that sort of stuff, so it is hard.

Lynn: Well, quitting, socially feels like a weenie, but actually, it was a kind of a moment of triumph for me, because in a way, it was like, "I don't care what people think. I have to do what's good for me." And in a way, my whole trip was like that. I think going, jumping into my career when I just literally was so burnt out, could not even be good at anything, and going on my trip felt a little like that. Felt like weakness in some ways, but at the time, it was also what was best for me, so I think you do have to sometimes, you're right, like saying no and not caring what people think but doing what's good for you, people will perceive it as weakness, but it's actually strength.

Julie: And I think more people actually think it's strength, perceive it as strength, than other people probably think.

Lynn: Yeah.

Julie: Like there probably weren't as... There was probably few of us watching your Instagram thing that were like, "What a weenie. She quit after four weeks of hiking mountains."

Lynn: She hiked 400 miles. No, not enough.

Julie: None of us are up there. So, then you took some time and spent some time at a place called L'Abri. Tell us what that place is, and kind of why you went, and what you were doing while you were there.

Lynn: Sure, so a lot of my parents' and my grandparents' generation seemed to be really aware of L'Abri, but I would say that L'Abri is not really something that my generation is particularly familiar with. I had heard about L'Abri through Rod Reed, the university's former chaplain, and he took students there as part of a study abroad trip, or a pilgrimage. That's also how I learned about the Camino is through him, so when I went to L'Abri, L'Abri is... The original, the OG L'Abri is situated in Switzerland, and it was started by Francis and Edith Schaeffer, who were American missionaries living in Switzerland, because Switzerland is kind of a divided country. It has three languages.

Lynn: So, it's got French, Italian and German, because it borders all those countries, and all the different religions that kind of go with the languages are also present in L'Abri, so Francis and Edith were there as missionaries, and kind of a crazy series of events, but ended up not really having a home for a while, and being on the verge of being kicked out of Switzerland, and God provided this amazing chalet, and they didn't even know how amazing it was, because the day that they closed on it, the money came out of nowhere and it was a cloudy day, and then the next day it was clear and they had this amazing view of the Alps, and it was stunning, stunning, stunning. Such a gift from God.

Lynn: And over the years, that was started in like the '50s, they accumulated more chalets on this hillside near Villars, which is a really amazing tourist destination for world-class skiing. Obviously, because it's in the Alps. And basically, how it came to be is Francis and Edith quickly, I mean it was part of their ministry. They just really had a heart for people to come and seek answers to their honest questions from wherever they were in life, and L'Abri has really stuck to that mission, and so today, we joke. How do you even describe what L'Abri is to other people? We're like, "I don't know. It's kind of like a hippie commune, and kind of like a school, and a fellowship, but also like a retreat."

Lynn: So, we joke, but yeah, so still to this day you can go travel to L'Abri, and you can stay there for pretty much any amount of time you would like, and there's a small tuition fee, which really just covers room and board and food. They really run it very minimally. But you spend half your day cleaning, which is part of the commune part, communal part of living, cooking food, cleaning, making sure everyone doesn't get sick, doing laundry. And then the second part of your day is devoted to study, so every day you study for four hours a day of whatever you'd like, and they have this whole chalet kind of down at the bottom of the mountain called Farel House, that is just a really amazing library. Spectacular resources. Just, as you can imagine, over 70 years of ministry.

Lynn: Yeah, so you can study whatever you like.

Julie: That's awesome.

Lynn: And you also have formal lunches, so you go have lunch at different employees' houses. Well, they're chalets, and you're divided up into groups, and you cook with each other, and they're called formal lunches because at each of these lunches, they happen a couple times a week, someone gets to pose a question to what they've been studying. Could be something about homosexuality, could be something about the trinity, could be something about the Holy Spirit. Whatever. And then for the whole rest of the lunch, the rest of the table talks about your question and gives their two cents, and so it's really great. Amazing community. Yeah.

Julie: That's cool. Yeah. So, and I know you did some other traveling and stuff in there too. Amazing pictures. Totally jealous. But from your summer, from L'Abri, and El Camino, and just the travels in general, what were some of the major takeaways that you're coming back and saying, "These are the things that I've learned about myself or others," or that sort of stuff?

Lynn: Gosh. I feel like I learned so much on my trip. I kind of, in a way, an overarching kind of idea that I had from the summer is it's not really where I found myself, necessarily, but I would say in a way it's where I met myself, in the sense I have this phrase that keeps running around in my head, where the mountains met the sea. And that is both, it's geographical significance, because in Ireland, where I also traveled, these amazing mountains plunge into the sea and it's so beautiful.

Lynn: And then in Spain, when I was on the Camino, I was hiking all those mountains, but I was near the coast, so there was this constant mountains and sea picture. But that has kind of metaphorical significance, because I felt like at the end of grad school, when I left for my trip, I felt like this mountain version of me, this striving and achieving kind of person of following all my gifts and talents, and seeing what I was capable of, put me in this place and learned what I was capable of. And so, but I would say it left me with some polish, but it also left me kind of jagged and raw in other ways.

Lynn: So, this maybe professional worker side of me was the mountain, but where the mountain of me met the sea of me was kind of my trip was the come down, right? It was this time to be with myself, and the sea is... The version of myself that I met there was the stillness, the calmness, where I learned kind of the depth of myself, the kindness and the love that I have, and so in that sense, I feel like the mountain of me met the sea of me there. And I have a more holistic picture of myself. Definitely feel more healthy, and fulfilled, and content, and happy, but I would say... Yeah, recovering from mental health was really critical for me, because whether you're in grad school, or whether you're just not in grad school and you're just working crazy, I think people kind of experience burning the candle at both ends at different times of life.

Lynn: It could be that you're a single mom, but you've got a million kids, and you're doing this thing, so for me, that was in grad school. And it was I was going to grad school full time, I was working full time, and even in part of that I was doing a 20 hour a week consulting project on the side. Side hustle. And I just was burnt out, and so part of it was going abroad to really be with myself and reflect on that, and all that had happened, and who I had become, but also who I wanted to be, and doing the hard work of getting back to a healthy place.

Lynn: For me, you always have naysayers. You'll always have haters in your life, right? Who will say, "No, don't do that. Do this other thing." But for me, it was like, "Look, I know it looks maybe like weakness to not go to work right now, and to take and spend all my money abroad," but it was also like I regret none of it. It was what I needed for the time. So, part of that really led to an acceptance of myself that I hadn't really maybe experienced before, just because when you're abroad and you're by yourself, it's like you're your only travel companion. And I learned that I do like myself. I learned that I am resourceful, that I'm capable, and in a way, I had no one else until I went to L'Abri, so that was like 10 weeks of being by myself and just had to really learn to befriend myself and like who I was. Love who I was.

Lynn: But I think that's a journey for all of us. Macklemore has a few songs about it.

Julie: And then, talk about you, at L'Abri, one of the things you mentioned when we were talking earlier was that finding of community. And we talk about the word community a lot at JBU.

Lynn: Hashtag community.

Julie: Hashtag community. You know, if you ask anybody like, "Why do you love JBU?" Because of the community.

Lynn: The community!

Julie: Which is so hard to describe what you mean when you say that, but yet we all know what it is here, but you also found that at L'Abri. Talk about that and its importance in you moving forward, too.

Lynn: Absolutely. So, of course, as you touched on it, John Brown is such a special place for the hashtag community, but that, I would say, is really a special part of undergrad here, because this is a residential campus. Have to live on campus for six semesters.

Julie: It's worth it.

Lynn: It's worth it. It's so worth it. But part of that living is just kind of having a constant stream of amazing humans around, that you do life together. Of course, you study, but then you also are just good friends, and I think it is in that doing of life together. And in grad school, I think what kind of in a way led to my mental deterioration was a lack of community with maybe people my own age in a way. And so, when I was at L'Abri, I had been traveling on my own for, as I said, 10 weeks or whatever, walking 400 miles, climbing mountains, and at L'Abri, I met these amazing people who were there, who were just similar. Similar, but also diverse from me, too.

Lynn: But just people who cared about me, who loved Jesus, who didn't love Jesus, who were questioning things, but just honest people, and I felt like I could be truly myself with them. And just really found... Yeah, people care about me. And I think that it was a taste of what I experienced in undergrad, and really one of my last days, last weeks at L'Abri, I kind of had this awakening, perhaps. We were having a lecture from a really renowned artist at L'Abri, and I was asking her, I was like, "How do you achieve as much as you have in life while also staying true to family, and resting, and all that?"

Lynn: She was like, "Well, part of it is I think you have to figure out what you want." And I was like, "Oh my gosh." Light went off. I don't think I've ever asked myself what do I want. In a way, I think I was following the footsteps of maybe what-

Julie: What you think you're supposed to want.

Lynn: What you think you're supposed to want. What society, cultural wants for you, the American dream, you know? Follow that. But I was like, "Oh my gosh, what do I want?" And so, I think I realized work is important, and vocation is important, and at John Brown I learned so much about how vocation can be worship, but I think somewhere along in there, in my time, my last couple years at grad school got twisted around that like work is all there is. It is the end to everything. Most important thing.

Lynn: And there I was like, "What do I want? Do I want to be working forever?" I mean, of course, work is really great, but I think I want friendship, too. And I want a social life. And I want people to cook dinner with. And I want people who miss me when I'm gone, and who are excited when I get back. And so, I kind of made some pretty big changes in my life based on this question of what do you want? I do want to work, and I do want to have meaningful work, and I want to be able to buy food, but I also want to be able to travel, and feed this wild part of my spirit, while also having friendship.

Julie: Yeah. So, that actually affected then when you came back, and you started job hunting again and all of that. Talk a little bit about how that changed what you actually did during the job hunting process and your new job.

Lynn: Yeah. So, actually at L'Abri, because I was still... It was towards the end of my trip. I was kind of looking for jobs before I got back. I was applying for this job, and I was so stressed, and my friends at L'Abri are like, "Why are you so stressed about applying for this job?" And I was like, "I don't know. It's just a big deal. It would be very cool. It's been recommended to me. I think some people expect that I should get this certain thing." And they're like, "Okay? Is it even healthy for you?"

Lynn: And so, I really kind of sat with that question, was like, "If I did this job, would I be a healthy version of me?" I was like, "I mean, maybe. Obviously, I don't really want to do it. It's really stressing me out." So, I didn't apply for that job, but when I got back, I just was really praying. I was like, "Lord, you know what my next season's supposed to be. You know where I'm supposed to go." Really laying that in His hands, because the unknown is... That's some of the hardest time to trust God I think.

Julie: Yeah. Especially if you're... I'm a control freak, so I'm like a type A, whatever, I got to have everything planned out.

Lynn: I know. I'm such a three Enneagram. Such an achiever. So, anyway, literally the day I got back, August 22nd, I was on my flight praying and stewing over the unknown and how uncomfortable I was with it. Got down. Landed in, I don't know, Boston, and got an email from one of my connections being like, "Hey, we'd like to talk to you about a position." It was so not even me. It was so just the favor of God answering my prayers, and so, I did kind of embark more on this applying for jobs journey once I got back, and one thing led to another, and that's how I got my job now. But I am actually, so this job's in Portland, and I'm actually moving to Florida.

Lynn: So, I'm here with Julie in Siloam because I'm driving to Florida with my U-Haul and kayak. So, I decided I wanted to live in Florida, and I was really up front with people through the interview process at this company. I could move to Portland right now, I am going to relocate, and I could make great friends there, but I also know that I'm a bit of a workaholic. If I move to a place with zero friends right now, on the heels of this kind of hard year, and all the growth I'd done in Europe, that I'd probably fall back into that. So, I just said, "Hey, what would you think if I worked remotely?" And they were like, "Okay, why?" And I was like, "Well, there's lots of reasons. There's lots of reasons."

Lynn: But one of those things was to build a life outside of work that was balanced, and when you're married and you get a new job, your fam goes with.

Julie: Right. Yeah.

Lynn: So, you kind of have your humans with you as you're doing a new thing. But as a single person, just starting out, you relocate and you're on your own. In a whole new city.

Julie: Yeah. It's difficult.

Lynn: It is difficult, so I was like, "Okay, well, there's a bunch of these people that I met at L'Abri. They live in Florida. I'll look there." And I asked my company and they were okay in letting me work from Florida. Which, part of it is from who do you come home... I want roommates that I can live with, and I want to seek out that community still, and I want people to cook dinner with, and I want to go to the... I don't know, go adventuring with them, and celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving with people. Not just living the isolated, lonely, horrible, awful life.

Julie: Yeah. Well, we talk about sometimes, but God made us for connection. He wired us to be connected to Him and to other human beings, and so I think that's usually one of the greatest things that can affect our mental health-

Lynn: Absolutely.

Julie: It's when we don't have those built-in connections with people. People that share or faith, people that share our hobbies, people that share all of those things, so that's super exciting, that you were able to kind of set that as a priority.

Lynn: I know. They've been so gracious.

Julie: And really follow through with that, so-

Lynn: Yeah, this company's really amazing, and it is really the favor of God and just Him redirecting me into community, where you can flourish and thrive. And it's not to say that if you don't have it, you're... Oh, no.

Julie: Well, I think you just have to work harder to create it, and I think too, so many of our students graduate and go take jobs in different cities, and it does just take... It takes intention.

Lynn: It does.

Julie: I mean, yeah, sure, you can make friends at work, but it takes intention to find a church, or find some travel groups, or some of these other groups that you can make friends-

Lynn: Sports teams.

Julie: Sports teams, whatever it is, and especially, too, I think if you're introverted, or you're one of those people who doesn't naturally seek out those connections, it can just be an even bigger challenge. Yeah.

Lynn: It takes a long time. It takes a long time. Yeah, for sure. I think one of the best things I learned while I was abroad was in a way how to connect with people. People, oh gosh, I feel like my mind was so open, because here I am, on my own, really in the world kind of for the first time without any kind of Christian community, and just really learning to people who have much different faith ideas than me, people who have very different politics than me, people who had different upbringings, cultures, just so much different things than me, and just holding room, space for all the differences of people, and still loving them still.

Lynn: And also, learning to talk to people in real life. I mean, we're so quick to be in our phones, myself included, but some of my favorite conversations were just around tables, and with strangers on buses, and being so interested in them that they feel so special and valued, and one of my favorite conversations was with this older Italian woman one night on the Camino, and she did not really speak English, but a lot of communication really is non-verbal, so of course you can figure it out. But she texts me sometimes on WhatsApp, and she's like, "Lynn, we are waiting for you in Italy. Come visit is. Ciao ciao!" Kissy face emoji.

Lynn: And no, but we had great conversation that night, and yeah, language was a barrier, but you still figure it out.

Julie: Yeah. That's awesome. Well, we're excited. Can't wait to hear more about how you plant yourself in that community and flourish, and so, we thank you for coming on the podcast today and sharing about your adventure.

Lynn: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. What a joy.

Julie: Thanks for listening to this episode of JBU Stories. Visit jbu.edu/stories for a transcript of today's show, links, and show notes. Be sure to subscribe to JBU Stories on iTunes, and we'd love it if you would leave us a review.