When I was in high school, I was obsessed with choosing a college. I think I believed as a fairly new Christian that there was only one school that would be God’s will for me and if I picked the wrong one, I would ruin everything. EVERYTHING, I say! In fact, I was so paralyzed in my decision-making process that I chose to attend our local community college for a year. Not because I wasn’t ready to leave home, but because I felt incapable of making the correct decision. I was desperate to lock the right thing in.
Some time went by, I chose a school, went away to college, and started dating someone. And then I began panicking about after college. What would my life look like? I wanted that locked in now. So I was panicky and begging and desperate, but this time, about a boy. And I pleaded with him not to break up with me, five months in, despite all our arguing. Because I couldn’t imagine the thought of being alone, or more to the point, of not knowing if I’d be alone forever. So I arm-twisted a proposal out of him, which brought immense relief, until the day our engagement ended. My heart was broken, yes; but more than anything, I was terrified. I could no longer picture my future. So I tried to heal and act like it was no big deal if we just dated without a commitment (being the totally laidback girl that y’all know I am). That lasted about five minutes. And then the begging-to-be-re-proposed-to campaign kicked off, and I landed my man. Again. This time, not as much relief, because at any moment, I was now convinced, he might end it again. (Insecure, anyone?)
But some more time went by, and we got married.
And even some more time went by, and we bought a house. And had a baby. And bought another house. And had another baby. And bought another house.
And then one day, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood. And it hit me: I now officially have everything I have ever wanted. Everything is locked in.
I knew the husband I would have for the rest of my life. (You see where this is going, don’t you?)
I knew the children I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the house I would live in for the rest of my life.
I knew the friends I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the job I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the ministry I would have for the rest of my life.
I knew the church I would be a part of for the rest of my life.
And I said to God…..not snarkily…..not as a dare or a challenge…..more out of curiosity…..more as a pondering…..more just a girl lovingly, curiously asking her Heavenly Father, “How will you ever surprise me?”
Hmmm. Sweet naïve girl.
That was ten years ago.
I do not have that husband.
I do not live in that house.
I do not have some of those friends.
I do not have that job.
I do not go to that church.
Life is funny.
Though nothing at all was locked in back then on that walk in my neighborhood – because life is not lock-in-able – I thought it was. Not in a prideful way, like I was trying to cheat death or I’m above the law or look at how I manipulated all my life circumstances and managed to get what I want or anything at all like that. I just honestly thought all of those things would remain the same, that that was the life God had appointed for me, and I was grateful. Despite the hard marriage, the rest of my life was a sweet life.
Which brings me to today. Today, there are two very large and looming areas of my life that I cannot see the end result of. I am living each day lately with a hint of swirling panic just beneath the surface. (A little side note about me: I hate swirling panic.)
I am living in the day by day more than I ever have my entire life. I can only see this one day.
But here’s the thing. Back then, when everything was supposedly all “locked in”, I only thought I could see the road ahead. I rested in that ignorant bliss. I lived in that ignorant bliss. But then upheaval came in almost every area of my life (God surprises after all). And I made it through.
So perhaps, though I feel ridiculously unsettled right now, just perhaps, I’m simply more awake. More in tune with my reality. That I have never had a crystal ball. That life doesn’t work that way. That not knowing – though I’m intrinsically not a fan of not-knowing-ness – is where my faith deepens and stretches and pulls down all around me like a blanket. It’s in the swirly-not-knowing-of-life that I can more fully know the God who does. And that’s where I can rest: because he is safe and good and loves me more than I will ever understand.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:34– (NASB)
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