One of my favorite things about life is that it’s never quite what we expect it to be.
I’m way too prone to plan-making and goal-setting. Not bad things in and of themselves, but certainly bad when they build a house of expectations that I will never have the chance to live in.
On the sweeter side of things, this allows me to trust in a God who knows my heart, my dreams, and my desires far better than I ever will. It makes me grateful for the intention of His heart to lead me where I ought to be instead of where I want to be… [especially when they are different destinations].
I’m just on the other side of one of those prolonged winter seasons. When the sun didn’t come out and I felt cold and lonely inside. I graduated college to be in the category of those with a full-time job lined up months in advance. I was graciously permitted by my new boss to travel overseas immediately after graduation, and started my “big girl” job when I returned. If you had asked me then [and many did], I would have said that this job would be a gateway for the ministry I was created to do. I would have told you that I could see myself working in that position three to five years. I would have told you that I loved it and couldn’t wait to start.
[And when I would have told you those things, they would have been true.]
And such is life. We build expectations. We mold the “could be’s” and the “might have’s” into the “will be’s” and the “just wait’s”.
We plan, prepare, anticipate, and then, often, we realize we were wrong.
And this is where it gets tricky. This is where the I-always-imagined-it-would-be-different and the there-has-to-be-more-than-this has a brief moment to sink or swim. You can always remain where you are. It’s safe, easy, and comfortable to do so.
But then the thought of more momentarily pops into your mind. You remember the dreams you used to dream and the hopes you fully believed would come to pass. You find yourself practicing your resignation speech and longing for the confidence to vocalize it.
I needed a wintery season of what-the-heck-am-I-doing-here to make me dream again. Maybe you do, too.
If you’re in one of those seasons now, take a deep breath. It won’t last forever. It’s hard to find yourself feeling stuck, but the “stuck” can be the most motivating emotion. When your heart just hurts and you wish it were different. When you can’t focus on your work because you’re staring out the window. Or you can’t write your paper because you’re daydreaming of autumn in the mountains.
Close your eyes tight for a moment and remember that this season of life will pass just as quickly as the leaves will change. Use your hope of more to propel you into dreaming.
When the thought comes, chase it.
When you remember the dreams, dream them again.
When you practice the speech, speak it.
The there-has-to-be-more-than-this is real, and it’s waiting for you to walk in it.
Before we get carried away, I’m all too familiar with the reality that waltzing into work with your resignation letter isn’t always an option. The there-has-to-be-more-than-this doesn’t always mean we must quit our job, bail on our lease, and chase the constellations as they change with the seasons [although few things sound more whimsical]. Sometimes, it’s a matter of surrender in our hearts & in our minds to acknowledge & believe that the more will come.
While seasons of summer bring the happiness of a holiday away from school, and endless days to play on the beach, seasons of winter have the power to propel us into holiness.
We like the carelessness of summer, but winter is hard.
Rest assured that the reality of it being hard is not an alert that you misunderstood God, or that you’re doing it wrong. In fact, it is often a clue that you are on the right track. We’re temporarily caught between the now and the forever.
The now will fight for you to compromise, and to take what satisfies in the moment, and to run away from winter. It will often take your focus off of forever and urge you towards the instant. Keep your eyes on forever.
Find the balance in the paradox of boldly chasing dreams, and trusting Yahweh in the winter.
Hold the blueprint of your expectations with open hands.
Know that spring is coming, and when it arrives [when you can finally walk outside without a coat, and flowers begin to bloom again] you will see that the Architect has built a sweeter house than your expectations ever could have.
Photo Credit: Brandon Christopher Warren