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The Language of “Someday”

January 4, 2009

I am fluent in the language of “someday.”

As I sit here, drinking my Earl Grey and dreaming, I could cover you with blankets of all the plans for all the things that I want to do. I could knit you scarves with them and bake you cakes with them. But they would stay safely slumbering in the corners of my imagination, quiet and unrealized.

I am the girl who cried “do!” and then doesn’t.
And I hate that.

Over the past five years of my life, as I have ventured to see more of life and of the world, I have willingly infected myself with the idea that life can be different. On one side, I am calmly buckled in, next to my health insurance and 401k and steady job, and on the other, I am furiously beating the door with my fists, screaming that I am convinced that this wasn’t supposed to be it. So which side do I listen to? Which one is right?

I’m not really sure if there is a right or a wrong answer — only a blurry vision of what the future could look like, depending on which side I choose. There is nothing wrong with a quiet, white picket life…but the thought of living in a string of regrets is suffocating. My practicality and hesitation have wrought me in a cage that ties me in with fear and nearly every time, it wins. And I feel like that breaks God’s heart.

Not that He wishes for me to be foolish and irrational, but I don’t think He wishes for me to be small and quiet just because I feel like that’s what people want. Sometimes my mind feels crushed in on all sides, molding my dreams into a perfectly square box, just as ordinary and reasonable as can be. And as my dreams are getting the life squeezed out of them, my heart is sighing and weeping and trying to keep quiet in the deafening noise from above.

I don’t mean to say that I am entirely unhappy where I am. I have a decent job, a lovely house, a city that I love and friends that shake me out of myself. But I’m comfortable, safe and entirely unchallenged. I’m also unconvinced that it is all it’s supposed to be.

I am praying about a few things right now — I don’t always go into prayer with the expectation of answers, but last night, as I prayed for guidance, the first thought that popped into my head was this: “I just want you to be happy. Until you take a chance on something that scares you, I can’t take care of you like I want to. I want you to trust that I will provide for you.”

I would love your prayers on where my life is going. I find myself at 24, already feeling like I’ve run out of options. I know what my mother would have me do, I know what my friends would say and I know what my frequent urges of change have to add. But I really want to know what He has to say.

I have come to realize that I am so small in my own head. Worthy perhaps to write about dreaming great things, but never meant to do them. How unbelievably unfair I have been to myself. I don’t want to live my life like that — cowering in my mind, peeking out from the corners and coming to end, finding that all I did was fear.

I am exhausted from speaking in sonnets of dreams, of writing plans that I will never live and making checklists that I will never complete. At the end of my life, I fear being surrounded by unchecked lists, unmet goals, a flurry of “I wish I had”s and a bunch of practicality that I stocked up in order to protect myself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live reasonably, but I don’t think that’s the entire point of it. When I finally reach the pearly gates someday and Christ looks me full in the eyes, I don’t think He’s going to ask how my 401k worked out and how long I stayed at my first job. I think He’s going to want to know what I did with my life, what kind of people I met and how much I trusted Him when it would have been so much easier to cower in fear and mediocrity. When it comes down to the choice between comfortable and uncomfortable, I think I know which one He always chooses. He’s not interested in our comfort, He’s interested in our growth. We have tremendous potential as human beings and we hide in it more than we know. We’ve convinced ourselves that all He desires is for us to plant ourselves in our hometown, tucked in a suburb, driving a minivan and being responsible. I would hope that I serve a God that asks us to get scared, to shake our lives up, to take chances, to understand what life looks like when it’s falling apart and above all, trust that even in the most unreasonable circumstances, that He is right next to us, holding our hand, whispering that no matter what happens, He won’t leave.

…………………………

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath…”
-Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts 

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. James permalink
    January 4, 2009 7:12 pm

    I must say that this post could have been lifted from the pages of my writing notebook, and I am currently calling a lawyer to have you sued. =)

    I think many people feel this way, especially those our age and in our shoes. I have some friends (unlike myself) at this point in their life where a majority of their story is already written out for them. They have the job where they will stay, they have married the person they love, and they have already started a family. And while all of this is lovely (for loving someone is wonderful, having a job where you see yourself sticking around is fantastic, and beginning a family has to be one of the most exciting parts of life) a lot of the mystery, as far as where will I be in 1 year, or hell, even 1 month, has been erased.

    This has its positive and negative points, like most things. All of that is wonderful, but at times, this hectic, stomach-wrenching anxiety that is caused by the complete confusion of my life can be quite enlightening.

    For about a year of my life, while living at home after college, I had the what-the-hell-am-I-doing blues. But it wasn’t until after that period was over that I realized it was actually one of the most important parts of my life. While it seemed dull and stagnant, I can actually trace a lot of where I am now back to that period. I became close with some people that I can now say are my best friends (some of whom I would have never met otherwise), I figured some things out about myself that I never would have found out, and I realized the true things in my life that are dear to me (which I always thought and said, but never really KNEW).

    I freaked out this past weekend and nearly took off to Boston, just for something new. The winter always does that to me. But sometimes all it takes is a calming cup of coffee, a breath of fresh winter air, a walk to down the street… and that is your travel. That is your new experience, that you can savor and say, wow, what an amazing life I have, as if that were the first sip of coffee and the first breath you have ever taken. Sometimes just a simple tweak of perception is all you need (and that is quite a great thing coming from a man who feels the need to climb mountains and sleep in the wilderness to make him feel like his life is worth a leg of lice off the back of a whale).

    When you look back at your life as of now, you see it as linear; it is a line, without any branches. It is a simple, well-groomed path that looks like it was made for you. When you look to the future, it is an overgrown hedge of invasive prickly roses that curl and twist in every direction, so thick that you cannot see anything besides the thorns that stick you as you try to navigate through them.

    What I am saying is that while maybe you are frustrated now, it is right for you. The path you are on is the correct one. The internal struggle you are having is supposed to be there. Maybe you think you are taking the comfortable route, but maybe you are supposed to, so that it will make you uncomfortable, and you will grow because of it. What you have is right, for you will never be lead astray.

    Perhaps one day, you and I can have a “biggest-flopped dream” competition. I think I could give you a run for your money.

  2. Caroline permalink*
    January 4, 2009 10:04 pm

    Oh James. Not only do I love you, but I truly love your mind. It is such a blessing that many times, our thoughts, struggles and lives seem to run parallel to one another. Nothing ever seems so difficult when it can be shared with a friend.

    There is so much to ponder in your words that I will have to re-read this a few times. But overall, I am so thankful to have such a wise and thoughtful person in my life.

    Thank you. 🙂
    For all of it.

  3. January 5, 2009 12:30 pm

    Hey Caroline your words are so eloquent and evoke excitement with their passion and honesty.

    [What wonders will follow, what graces may my eyes see When Jesus comes riding and rides for eternity]

    But eternity begins now, or yesterday for that matter and here I am not in meaninglessness but certainly not where I thought I’d be at the ripe old age of 24. This journey is full of twists and turns and for me these days God has been asking me to breathe deep of the here and now which is to say, “dave don’t miss the little things because while you are dreaming about one day you might miss the blessing of today.” Neck deep in the daily drab seeing the echoes of the divine with each sun ray and walk and math equation. Okay maybe not math equation but I don’t want to miss him as he whispers invites and asks me to leave the mundane only to see it all as a gift. When I am not acknowledging this gift my life can be summed up by that feeling you have when you return someone’s thought out christmas gift. As if to say, “I know what I want better than you.” With Jesus I am realizing the very things I think I want are the same things he is setting me free from. Anywho, as I ramble I must let you know that in my rambling I would summarize with simply…I identify with a restlessness that burns the soul and will. I think it will always be with me and I want to embrace it–whatever that looks like.

    peace.
    dave

    ‘I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.’

    -don miller ‘though painted deserts’

  4. Face permalink
    January 5, 2009 1:04 pm

    Just ran through your post and it reminded of a wonderful, albeit depressing song. Pertinent lines, although not wholly applicable:

    I know a woman, became a wife –
    These are the very words she uses to describe her life.

    She said, “A good day ain’t got no rain.”
    She said, “A bad day is when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been.”

    Slip sliding away.

    The song is called “Slip Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon. It runs through my mind when I think that merely being happy with what is is not always enough. Not that we can’t appreciate the subtle and the seemingly insignificant. But those can be appreciated even on a journey through the uncomfortable.

    You know I’m not much for divine plans or direction, so, as un-clichedly as possible – just do it. Even if Nike is merely a shoe company (which purportedly supports slave labor), their terse little mantra speaks volumes. To tack on another cliche, you only live once? (Hey, they are cliches for a reason, right?)

    Keep up the writing, I hope to check it out more frequently.

    Chris

  5. Caroline permalink*
    January 5, 2009 1:47 pm

    Dave,

    It was a blessing to read your comment and be reminded that our happiness reaches so far beyond where we live and what we do. God is in the details and those are the easiest things to forget. It is such an unspeakable comfort to know that other people are going through what I am — I forget so often that I am not the only one.

    That Don Miller quote couldn’t have been more timely. Every time I reread “Through Painted Deserts,” it nearly drives me out of my mind with how much I want to go, go, go. My heart gets so full of excitement for all that the world holds, that I haven’t seen, that I feel like I might explode if I move an eyelash.

    Thank you for reading — I look forward to our coffee soon.

    Grace and peace.

  6. Caroline permalink*
    January 5, 2009 1:49 pm

    FACE!

    You found my blog. 🙂 (Well, okay, if I post links on Facebook, I guess it’s not that hard to do…)

    I actually like that Paul Simon song and I resonate with those words for sure, no matter how depressing. It is such an encouragement to have friends who, even when quoting Nike, can lift me up. You are someone that I am always glad to hear from.

    I hope law school is everything you hoped and that your mind and heart are touching people every day.

    Love to you, my dear.

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