I remember the exhilarating feeling of the Summer after graduating high school. I was 18, seemingly confident, and full of wonder for the future. I can feel that ghost of a girl as I fondly look back. Her identity would take some hits in the coming years.
I remember the trepidation and excitement as I spent the first night in my dorm room at the University of Tennessee alone. The lonely moved in that night, and a foreign reality set in. The familiarities of life in a small town with the rhythms of predictable and warm people was traded for an upside down perspective where no one knew me or valued me.
I remember getting a call from Delta Airlines offering me a job after graduating from UTK. After training, I would be living in New York City with many people in an apartment. Adventure called, and it sounded good but made me nauseated with fear. My heart failed me, and due to health issues amidst training, I landed back at home with my parents unable to drive for 2 ½ months. Talk about a pride crushing anti-climax.
As I reflect, there have been a lot of times where I have been in a season with no plan, a timid voice and a questioning of my abilities.
Transitional seasons in life have brought me right back to that scared, excited, lonely girl in that dorm room who mistakenly thought she knew herself.
Adult life can feel predictable, but the truth is, we are all being flipped on our heads all of the time with change, grief and conflict. So, why don’t we talk about it? We isolate our inner turmoil and find ways to turn it’s noise down instead of sharing our fears with others. Then, instead of exploring it, we self-destruct making asinine decisions that might destroy our families and our friendships in the process.
It’s funny. In the last year, I have experienced high confidence in who I am and how I am growing in the aftermath of a really tough season. Yet, Right now, I am plunged into a place where I feel my shortcomings, my selfishness, my lack of focus and how that affects the lives around me greater than I ever have before. Who in the heck am I? As a kid, I had no idea adults were walking around feeling this way!
The Lord keeps giving me this picture of my life as pieces of paper ripped and piled up, unable to be made sense of by me. Since thinking and problem solving are my go-to activities, I have been frustrated. I have this need to work it out and find a reason for things to be happening and how to solve them or spin them for a purposed good. And yet, He continues to remind me, “Show up right now, Jen. You are not to figure it all out. Don’t hide in your mind or your activities. Show up, and rely on Me.” He is the One making the collage. He knows the vision. It is not my job to have the plan and piece the pile together. My purpose is to lean in, to know Him, and to trust Him. It is there that peace is found.
Empathy is one of my gifts but grieving is not. So, I emote for others but I struggle to sit with and identify my emotions myself. It feels too unpredictable. It feels wrong. I want to run from it, yet God does not let me. Without the moments in my life where I am floundering and lack my sea legs to find a place and an identity (like all the situations mentioned above), I trust in myself and my abilities. I stay on the surface.
With each transition of undoing and being remade, I see the emptiness of life in Jen. I see a shell of life with no pearl formed. I see vacuous decisions. Not that I seek it, but It is through pain, questions, annoyance, arrogance, loss, frustrations, hurts, and conflict that the grit has been rubbing my soul to form a pearl that reflects the glories of Him and not of my plans or my desires. Good grief, what I would dream and desire would be empty and easy and so far away from the splendor of knowing the Creator of the Universe as my adopted Father. So, I sit in the pieces, grieving the “not yet” and sitting in the “already” of redemption. I am learning ever so clumsily.