“I hate change,” Molly said laughing. “If you make me do something, I am stubborn. I am heels in the ground. I will buck you.”
Molly first experienced the pain of change in high school. Growing up in a Christian home, and accepting Christ at a young age, Molly was close to her church family. However, due to several various circumstances, her parents found it best to change churches. This was a big frustration to Molly, who had a tight knit friendship with the youth pastor, his wife and the kids in the small youth group. That’s when Molly first started to buck.
Having just gotten her driver's license, Molly did all that she could to go against her parent’s wishes. She went between the two churches constantly, driving to both youth groups. She said she would sit in the new youth group with arms crossed, refusing to truly participate. Finally, after a year of this, the new youth pastor sat her down and told her something that changed her outlook. He explained that she was disobeying her parents and thus essentially disobeying God.
“You’re in the middle and God can’t use you in either place. You need to be all in,” Molly said her youth pastor told her. “It was a humble pill. Hard to hear.”
Yet after that, the Lord began to work on her heart and she invested fully into her new church and youth group. By her senior year, she was crying that she had to leave.
“Funny how the Lord can change your heart," she said. "That was the first, like, ‘Oh, (God), you do work. I went from literally hating this place to I can’t imagine the impact you guys had on me.”
Molly realized at the end of her senior year in high school how important it is to trust the Lord in His plans, even when it’s hard. That lesson, though monumental, was almost forgotten when she got into college. God threw a few curve balls into her life, forcing her to learn the lesson all over. Molly attended Ashland University, following the footsteps of her older sister. Molly assumed that she would also major in education, just like her sister. But then something happened. Molly stepped into a real classroom and she realized something: she hated lesson planning.
So after a talk with her mom and sister, they encouraged Molly to chase after her childhood passion for capturing life through film and photography. It wasn’t what she imagined or even thought she could do as a career. How was she going to survive after college making videos, she wondered. But thanks to the support of her parents, they pushed her to follow her passion and believed the Lord would provide the opportunities for her career. So she changed her major and created her own Bachelor of Arts in Electronic Media Productions.
In college, she also met her husband, Nick. Despite the amazing love story that was building, she still questioned the timing of it all. Molly thought she would be single post graduation. She imagined living with her friends from college in the big city for a few years. And THEN they would get married.
“I remember even saying to him (Nick) once, ‘You came too soon into my life!’”
Yet Nick proposed and Molly graduated college engaged and working as a video intern. This was not what she thought was going to happen. Yet through that year of engagement with Nick, Molly got to work in ministry telling testimonial stories. Without this stage, she wouldn’t have ended up getting the job in Dayton working at Apex, doing her dream job now of sharing stories through video.
She once again learned that the Lord’s plans were much different than her own, but were much better.
Recently, as Molly sat reflecting, she realized another round of change was about to happen, and again, it wasn’t easy.
After several years of settling and getting comfortable here in Dayton, the community that she had come to know so well to love and trust started to dramatically shift. Her close friends, a husband and wife, recently decided to do mission work in Cancun and moved away recently. Losing a best friend moving to a different culture is certainly not an easy adjustment and new for Molly to walk through.
Around the same time she learned about that, Molly found her house church also coming to a close. People moved for jobs or had other life changes happen that caused them to leave, which left the leadership to choose that it was time for the house church to come to a close.
She asked the Lord, ““Why are you uprooting such a part of our community?” She added, “I even asked the Lord, ‘Why is this happening now and not six months ago when Nick and I were at a crossroads to move or plant deeper roots in Dayton. We chose Dayton and then the Lord begins to scatter our community. The timing could not have been worse.’” Molly became paralyzed during this season, as she was torn with bitterness and confusion.
At a SEEDS conference, Molly said she was journaling when she found herself writing down, “Don’t let Molly’s plans miss God’s plans.” This truth has been something she has continued to rely on in this current season of change.
She said that what’s different about this shift in change from the last two monumental times, is her focus right now is on being intentional with this time. She knows that from the past, God used those times of change for good. Although this season of life is still just as difficult, she’s choosing to look at it with a new perspective. This time she is asking God:“Who are the people that you’re about to plant into our life that we don’t even know yet?”
Now, Molly is choosing to invest in her neighborhood, her nearby community like the baristas she sees at the coffee shops frequently, or making time to open her home up to friends more often. This time Molly isn’t going to question God's plan, but open herself up to see where He is taking her next.
“His plans are not always what we expect nor easy, but if I (am not) willing to accept them or follow them, look at all the ripple effects I will miss out on,” she said.
Author: Jen Ward
Photographer: Molly Bellanco