Where to begin.
This Saturday, I realized I was going to hit a milestone. My car’s odometer was nearing the end of 49,000 miles and on its way to 50,000. It gave me pause to think. Have I seriously driven that many miles in such a short time? See, I’ve only had this car for 2 1/2 years. I did not think I’d reach 50,000 so soon. Looking back on 50,000 miles was monumental as I considered all the places I had gone in those thousands of miles and all of the places I had not.
The cynic in me – that thing we like to consider part of “the flesh” in Christian circles, aka “realism” in pseudo-intellectual Christian circles – immediately felt failure. What of all the goals I had set? The dreams I had hoped? The life I was sure I was destined to lead in my mid-twenties? Gone. As quickly as the digits 49,999 vanished without a flourish from my dash. Gone. As suddenly as the days and months and years behind me. Gone. All gone.
Musings. Underdeveloped thoughts. Words that have not yet borne fruit. That’s how this feels. In an attempt to write something true, I fear I’ve been wandering in the wilderness. But perhaps that’s the wrong thing to fear. Perhaps, I should fear missing God and His presence as I wander in my words and look back and wonder if 50,000 miles later, I’m exactly where I started. Perhaps my definition of progress is too limited, too rudimentary. If I can’t judge how far I’ve gone in my car simply by measuring the distance from 1) point A to 2) point B, maybe I evaluate my life wrongly by thinking that success means whether I’ve reached my idea of life’s point B.
I’m not a professor. I don’t hold a Ph.D. I don’t have my own apartment. I don’t have “the guy” to call my own. I don’t have a clearly laid out 5-year plan. I don’t have more than one job on my post-college résumé. I don’t have a dedicated social circle of support. I don’t have the expertise to say I’ve mastered anything. I don’t have published works under my name. I don’t know if I’ve ever led someone to Christ. And I don’t feel anymore Christ-like than I was thousands of miles ago. Am I a success? Some 50,000 miles later, have I gotten any further ahead?
No. Not by these criteria.
Tonight, I even found myself 1 mile away from home when I reached 50,000 miles. Am I just running in circles? Stuck where I’m at?
Yes. Some would say so.
Yet, somehow, 50,000 miles later, albeit in many ways the same place, I am further than I ever thought I’d be.
In 50,000 miles, I have seen many beautiful sights and disastrous collisions, drunk deeply from the well of joyous occasions and sorrowful events, and found more strength inside of me than I thought could ever exist.
In 50,000 miles, I’ve transported moving boxes for friends, given rides to students eager to reach the other side of campus, and enjoyed intense and fun-loving conversations on the drive to who knows where.
In 50,000 miles, I have gone on long, lonely, soul-clearing drives, sang countless songs at the top of my lungs without a care, said “yes” to adventure and explored places unknown and met new people, and finally shook off the dust from MINI-inspired dreams and identity.
Hmm. The last part of that sentence rings so true. My dreams and identity were in fact too small… And somewhere along the way in 50,000 miles, God showed me where I was and wouldn’t let me settle for “too small.” In 50,000 miles, He has steadily proven His faithfulness and care as He bids me to continue this journey with Him.
Journey. Yes, that’s the point. The journey with Him. The journey to realize the woman I am meant to be, the dreams I was made to dream, the love I was meant to give to all…
And so after looking back, I now wonder what’s ahead. I guess the next major milestone to reach is 100,000 miles. We’ll see where I am by then. Correction: we’ll see where we’re at (God and I) by then. By then, I’ll see what life will be like. I’ll finally know the answers to many of the unknowns that aren’t simple fill-in-the-blanks in my head…the mysteries that I’m learning to let go of. And I’ll realize that carefree, overflowing life that comes when I do in fact let go and rest in the arms of the Savior.