9:53 a.m. On iTunes: Relient K – Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right, But Three Do
I’ve forgotten how to have fun.
There. I said it. Of all I’ve been pondering this morning, this is one of the thoughts that leapt to the forefront.
It’s been about 3 weeks since I said goodbye to full-time employment.
For some of you, that probably doesn’t sound like a long time, but for me it’s been like an eterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnity. I think a Facebook friend said it best when he lamented the overwhelming nature of having a whole 24 hours available to you and so many possibilities in it. I mean, where do you start?
For me, it’s started with time with the Lord. I don’t say that to sound holy; it’s just the reality of things. And over and over and over, I keep hearing Him say “enjoy.”
Enjoy this waiting game? Enjoy not having a clue about what’s coming? Enjoy not knowing what to do with myself every day?
Seriously? This is supposed to be fun?!
I sit incredulous as I weakly admit: “Lord, I don’t know how to enjoy this.”
Ah. Therein lies the point.
LEARNING TO BREATHE…AGAIN
It’s amazing to me how difficult it’s been to be excited about all of this free time. I mean, shouldn’t I be doing cartwheels? No more hellacious commute! Woohoo, right? No 40+ hours a week of responsibility behind a desk! No more micromanaged-to-the-second schedule! And yet, it’s the very freedom that I have been given that feels like a vast ocean of possibility that is about to swallow little me up. Sigh.
So let me describe the scene to you: I am all dressed and ready to roll. I have empty cereal bowl to my right, having just completed the second part of my breakfast. And I’m looking outside to a day filled with potential and partly cloudy skies…
But I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten how to explore it.
When faced with the question of what I’m going to do today, I go into panic mode. After years of specific “adult” responsibilities, structured schedules, and earlier than I wanted bedtimes, I realize that I haven’t really given myself the luxury of saying “what’s possible?” or “what do I want to do today?” For a long time that’s been prescribed by the commitments around me. Now, I don’t mean to demonize those things as if there was nothing good about them, but this muscle of adventure is severely under exercised… it may be dangerously close to atrophy.
So what now?
A lot of people have been asking me that…
…and after more quiet times…
I’m still not exactly sure.
THE GOD OF “NOW WHAT?”
So before you get scared for me or cluck your tongue as you shake your head at the rashness of my “youth,” hear me out.
Usually when people say “now what?” they have something very specific in mind, like a plan of action with details neatly filled in or some prospects and projects all lined up or some sort of other, perfectly definitive answer. But I’m afraid I can’t give you that.
I know… uncomfortable, isn’t it?
I’ve kept saying that this time reminds me of those few months before graduation when everyone is asking “now what?”, and unless you’re one of the precious few who had (have) a job lined up, you’re just left saying so intelligently and confidently, “Uhhhhh, I don’t know,” so brilliantly displaying the fruit of the investment of the time, effort, and $$$$ you just sunk into your college education. =\
Now cue the aforementioned fear for you, tongue clucking, head shaking, and maybe even a “aw, poor little lost thing” ridiculous grin.
So why is it that I’m now giggling and smiling wide at the thought? =)
Because by His grace, I’m remembering a faithful God Whose good plans aren’t limited by our uncertainty. I’m recalling how when I literally was graduating from college, I didn’t know what the crap I was going to do…
And I wouldn’t know until months after graduating.
I had no plan.
I had no agenda.
I had no clue.
But my then-self did know this: I desperately needed God.
DARING TO DREAM AGAIN…WITH GOD
When my undergraduate season ended and the next remained unknown, I somehow knew I needed the Lord more than ever before to guide my steps. But thanks to some exposure to Eldredge’s writings on desire, conversations with college friends centering on that theme, and getting asked more and more by people around me what I wanted in life, I also knew that I had to confess honestly before Him what I wanted.
So my young twenty-something self did just that…
Well, that and reading the infamous What Color is Your Parachute? that my advice-giving Dad gave me. (I’m convinced advice is his love language. 😉 )
With a shaky heart and a kind of tentativeness that said, “Well, hope this works,”I told God point by point what I wanted, and I had no possible way of knowing if it would work because I had never been in this boat before.
In fact, some of the things I desired seemed downright improbable if not impossible. (Ah… I now marvel at God’s patience with me!) In any case, I learned in the process is that God cares about me and the things I want, but even more than that:
He was actually working through the very desires I had.
TAKING THE LEAP BACK INTO DESIRE
Some months ago, I stumbled across the very journal where I made that honest confession of what I wanted when faced with that “now what?” at the start of my twenties. And you know what?
He brought about every… single… one.
Now, is it that every desire we have and submit to God comes to be as if He’s some genie granting our every wish?
Well, because He is a good God after all, and not everything we want is good for us.
(I know, shocking.)
But I found that for His work to be most effective, I had to admit all those desires…even the not so neat, tidy, “that obviously must be His will,” desires. You know? Those desires that seemed in direct conflict with what I knew based on my years growing up in the Church and reading my Bible. And those desires that would seem to make my heart explode if I admitted to myself it’s what I actually wanted.
Because in the wake of the slew of disappointments that my young twenty-something year old story could tell, I felt that being so honest, so frighteningly vulnerable with my desire would mean a weight of hope that seemed much too heavy for my tender heart and my mustard-seed faith to bear.
So today, as an almost thirty-something experiencing the end of a different season of life, when the question of “now what?” is staring me down like a disgruntled, ground-pawing bull before a matador, what do I have to say in response?
Well, God and I worked that out this morning. Oh how very deliberate and patient He’s been in His answer! He’s been reminding me of the things He’s been speaking… this whole time.
Yes, I admit it.
He’s been talking…
in very specific terms even..
though not in super detailed steps…
So it’s still true: I don’t have a game plan for my life right now. Frankly, I don’t like being in that boat. I’m naturally a planner, and I like to work the living daylights out of the very well-thought out, laid-out plan I’ve masterfully crafted. And when I consider what He’s saying, it sounds a little daydreamer-ish. I most certainly suspect it’ll elicit utterances of “Aww…what a cute idea!” along with that fear-tongue-clucking-head-shaking-“aw, poor little thing” response to my perceived naïveté.
But the fact remains: I know what He keeps saying to my heart over…
and over again…
And although I am uncertain about what next steps mean…
or if I’m even just crazy for entertaining these ideas.
But that’s okay. Because you know what? It probably isn’t the most practical. And it may not even mean slick business cards, winning social media tactics, or a clever consulting name. Oh, that my friends is the scary, and yet, exhilarating thing at the same time!
I started this post by saying I’ve forgotten how to have fun. Well, there is definitely a connection between this and my meanderings into thoughts about desire. After all these years of not really thinking much about what I want or having to stuff down the things I want because yet another year went by where they didn’t come to be or I encountered scenarios and circumstances so out of my control that all but extinguished hope, it’s been hard to answer that question honestly.
“What do I want, Lord? How about I just ask what You want and do that?”
Oh, I know that silence.
Sometimes I hate that hear-a-pin-drop silence.
But it’s when I embrace that silence and the opportunity to search my heart with Him that I begin to experience the abundant grace and freedom He’s offering me.
Okay, Lord. Let’s do this…
And so I confess what’s in my heart. I’m saying “yes” to the things He’s been repeating in my ears. It’s a risky proposition, and it seems like the prospect of disappointment is larger than the fruition of all I hope for.
But I’m leaping into the new abundance He’s calling me to in this journey with Him.
Keep praying, friends.
One thought on “The Joy of “Now What?””
Will keep praying! You have a beautiful way with words Sheree! I love this. Very different lives, opposite coasts, same walk. And I love that! It is true, when we find ourselves in a place we are uncomfortable, we draw near. And that can only be good. Way to contend for the faith!