“I actually wasn’t uncertain; I was just afraid.” + Hannah Brencher
“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.” + Joshua 1:9 (MSG)
The lazy heat of August is upon us. Summer is slouching to an end, tired, sweating, relentless as it drags the sun from below the hills to the top of the sea that swallows it whole. The routine of days. But once we blink, bat away the errant fly, listen to the grass rippling with wind, smell the evening dew turn to vapor at dawn, it will be over. Fall will be here. The start of a “new year,” the school rush, a different routine, a more alert one, we hope, awake, alive, not sleeping.
When you get older, I’ve noticed, time blurs. Five years feels both like yesterday and an unfamiliar memory, one you are not sure really happened. You begin tracking life through seasons. At times, it is like the earth is taking over and you have no sense of where your head or your feet or your heart are.
Then at others, you are forced out of the mud, taken aback by light.
I think this place is known as the wilderness — where we go when we have questions, when we are full of doubt and uncertainty, and a certain bitter unwillingness to trust because we honestly believe despite the confusion we’ve got this, we know how to get through.
When I moved out west, I was in the wilderness.
When I enrolled in the teaching program at a local college, I was in the wilderness.
I thought doing these things was the answer, the way out, that I could cut a path for myself under the guise of “God’s will” and everything would be okay.
Instead I wove and braided a thread of self-denial through my life that I’m now working up the courage to cut.
There are people in my life who think those two things were the answer, the solution to a problem, a way to find my role in the world. That if I change my location and occupation, everything will be made right — I’ll no longer feel discontent but surer, more wise. I’ll have a reliable job, a more affordable place to live, be happier.
It sounds nice, doesn’t it?
But I know that’s not God’s will for me right now.
Switching time zones did not and will not fix the problems I face. Teaching will not and does not give me credibility and worth. Even though it is not necessarily where I want to be, I have been called to be where my feet are, and that is currently in my home state, at my family’s business, living in a city versus a town, not rich, not qualified, not where or what or who the world is telling me I ought to be.
I am right where God wants me to be.
People will laugh and joke or say I’m throwing away an education, I’m throwing away an experience, but I am doing the opposite — I’m learning from them, using what I’ve seen and heard over the last five years to further a vision I’m still just starting to see. A vision that is not fabricated or generated by wishful thinking, like the vision of the fence and gold-green grass I wrote about back in 2014, a by-product of my fragile, broken humanity.
The work will be hard and long and likely grueling.
I am not qualified.
But instead of wandering around the wilderness listening to the echoes of my own voice in hopes of navigating my way out, I am going to try trusting instead.
For once, I am going to be still, and simply know.