Picture this: I am at a restaurant with my cousin. Our mouths burn with the taste of buffalo sauce, waiters and waitresses bustle around with activity. Booths filled for, of all things, a University of Iowa football game. Stephanie and I are chatting, about life, about food, about friends. Our night is free and we ramble, at our own pace, eat nachos, wraps, and sweet potato fries.
Suddenly, I feel something graze my collar bone and look down to discover that the chain of my necklace had broke and the pendant was no where to be found.
Of course, it is a necklace only, a material item, and it wasn't a huge deal. However, the necklace had sentimental value. My sister had bought all of my siblings and me the same one, with a personalized engraving that read "trust your journey." This necklace had been around my neck through some of the most trying months with respect to doing just that, trusting my journey.
Stephanie and I looked around our table and her apartment when we got back with no trace of the "trust your journey" pendant.
Today, I returned home. As I unpacked my bag, always an arduous task, something caught my eye. There, in the side pocket of my weekend bag, was the pendant. This bag, which had been in Stephanie's apartment the whole time mysteriously contained what I had lost, I assumed, at the restaurant.
Now, it very well could be that the pendant fell off, into the side pocket of my bag, while I was at her apartment. Then, we walked to the restaurant, all while the broken chain magically dangled by one side down my shirt, and we ate half of our meal, until I eventually noticed.
Or there's a God.
Honestly, I have always found the Rolling Stones kind of overrated. Mick Jagger is a little too eccentric for me, Keith Richards... what's up with the pirate look? However, they have this one song that my mom always used to sing to me when I was being a little brat when I was younger.
"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you just might find
You get what you need"
This now makes a lot more sense than it did back then, and I'll probably be singing it to my kids someday. As a twenty year old girl, I have some questions. Who decided that we always have to get what we want? Who decided that at twenty years old I am supposed to know exactly what job I want someday, where I want to live, how many kids I should have, what color scheme I want for my wedding, the list goes on and on.
At eighteen, we have to decide what college to go to or what career to jump into. We are fresh out of high school, and pressured to make these huge life decisions with basically no experience to go off of. And honestly, most "young adults" or even "non-young" adults are never told that its okay to change their mind. There is so much pressure to say I am going to this school for four years, majoring in this field, so I can graduate in precisely four years, so I can get a job, make a nice living, get a huge house, and marry at 26 so I can have three kids and a golden retriever, and retire to the south at 65.
Woah, that's a lot to have "figured out" at eighteen... or twenty... or thirty...
What if we didn't try to have it figured out? What if it was just okay to transfer schools, or to change your major, or to graduate and go into a different field than what you got your degree in?
If we knew, at eighteen, exactly how our entire life would shake out all the way to age 100, that would be pretty boring. Don't you think? Yet, that is what all of us seem to be striving for.
We are scared, we want security, so we try to plan and stay safe in our comfort zone.
There is a verse in the Bible, James 4:13-16, that reads "Come now, you who say, 'today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.' Yet, you do not know what tomorrow will bring--what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead you should say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil."
Wow, we are all arrogant boasters, aren't we?
I don't mean that in a condemning sense, but isn't it interesting to see how mainstream society puts us in boxes and teaches us to think and act in exact defiance of this Bible verse?
When I decided to transfer from UMD to UW Eau Claire I thought I had failed. What were all those hours of research for the perfect college if I just transfer anyway? What will people think?
When I didn't get any of the internships that I originally wanted, I thought I had failed. What did I do wrong? Did I wear the wrong jacket? Did I say something?
These are all thoughts that come from thinking I need to have my life all figured out. And the truth is, God's plan for you is not a straight line with all these perfect little milestones along the way. It is a twisted, curly cued, mess and that's the way he likes it. He has so many people he wants us each to touch, so many experiences he wants us each to have, and if it were up to us we would never begin to look in the directions that he wants us to look.
So, whether you're fifteen, or twenty, or forty, or sixty, or one hundred, I challenge you to stop making a five year plan. Stop trying to control your life all by yourself. Start trusting God, even when it is scary. He may lead you to a wide abyss that you don't know how to get over and you never thought you would come to, but there is certainly a reason for all of it. Take it day by day, God won't let you down.
Patience. It's this new strange concept that I have been learning a lot about lately. I used to think that patience was a some people have it - some people don't sort of phenomenon. I figured that I could probably get through life without it. It could be fine to push through life holding onto the reins with a tight fist. Waiting for something to happen? With enough trying, you could make it happen earlier. Waiting for an answer? Enough communication and you can get it right out of them. Waiting for the summer? Turn on the Beach Boys, light a coconut candle, and crank the heat.
Recently, however, I have learned that in the real world (dun dun dun) there are certain times that it doesn't matter how hard you try, or push, or prod, you're just going to have to wait.
And it is not fun.
You see, waiting means slowing down. Waiting means that no amount of perfect effort on your part will change the outcome or make the news come faster. God knows all about my hidden trick to evade being patient, and he knows yours. He sees, fingers flying, as we send that text trying to get more information now. He sees how many times you have checked for that email today. He sees how many times you have casually brought it up in conversation, hoping to gain information about what the outcome might be.
God sees that you are uncomfortable with the unknown. But he doesn't call us to be the ones who know. He didn't create humans to know everything right away or to try to control every situation. He created us to fulfill his purpose, and because of this we can find beauty in our waiting.
There's an old song that I always liked but never really understood until it came on the other day, in the midst of my tight fisted waiting.
"Said woman take it slow, and it'll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience"
Well if that isn't a call to slow down I don't know what is. Now I am not saying that Axl Rose's song necessarily has some sort of divinity to it, but I know that it speaks truth.
All we need is to slow down, to have patience, and to let God work it out. Because it is not our job to make sure that everything works out okay. It is merely our job to have faith that God will make it work out. With God, everything simply is going to be okay. Regardless of what the outcome of your waiting game is. Around every corner is a question mark, and instead of trying to fill in the blanks learn to let God do that. There is nothing more powerful than being along for the ride; the ride that he created you for.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.