As I announced in last week’s post, I’ll be having some guest bloggers popping by over the next month or so. I couldn’t be more excited to hear what these wise women have to say about our chosen topic: journey.
But until then, you are stuck with me and what I have to say about journey.
And it’s funny because a wise author once told me to never quote anyone but myself on my blog. But here is the topic of journey, and it finds me a wide-eyed fool. So I have taken to quoting those much older and wiser and, well, I guess I’m okay with it after all.
And here it is:
Between watching The Hobbit over Christmas and my recent re-reading of The Chronicles of Narnia, (nerd alert) journeys have been on my mind a lot. Across lands, through rivers, over mountains.
For two crusty old academics, Tolkein and Lewis really knew how to create adventures, dangers and wild quests.
I’ve been on quite an adventure these past few months. First, I left my job in academic publishing to take some creative writing and advertising classes. Why?
Because I wanted to.
What? That’s so unlike me!
That’s where the adventure comes in, I think. The simple fact that it is illogical, inadvisable, but so strangely satisfying and peaceful at the same time. I can’t really explain it or necessarily advise it to everyone else. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense.
Sure, I was living my dream, but parts of me were suffocating there in that gray cubicle, under those stylish industrial lamps, reading page after page of manuscript. It felt like these things were slamming against the walls of my body, trying to break out or else fade away. I think perhaps these things were my gifts.
Maslow- that benevolent old Russian theorist- called them ‘capacities’, saying that,
Capacities clamor to be used, and only cease their clamor when they are well-used. That is, capacities are also needs. Not only is it fun to use our capacities, but it is also necessary. The unused capacity can become a disease center, or else atrophy, thus diminishing the person.
I think we all have desires in our hearts. I think a good God placed them there, to nudge us on adventures. I used to see these nudges as tests, like I had to do something unpleasantly risky to prove myself or my faith. But the more I grow and beat back the Fear and learn about my specific weirdness and how it contributes to the Body of God at large, the more I start to feel that IT IS SO MUCH FUN.
He is good. He provides for these journeys and when I stop worrying about that aspect, well, I quite enjoy myself. Because, at the end of the day, I was created for this specific adventure and like C.S.Lewis said,
The place for which He designs them in His scheme of things is the place they are made for. When they reach it their nature is fulfilled and their happiness attained: a broken bone in the universe has been set, the anguish is over. When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.
I used to think that God wrote formulas that our lives needed to shrink or snap into. Then I started to think that maybe He was writing love stories, lullabies to comfort and calm. But lately, I really have to say…I think he is writing adventures. You can’t read the stories of the Old Testament without thinking about the wild and unexpected. About bravery, battle, journey and risk. I just finished reading a book that wondered if the crisis of fatherlessness that our country is facing isn’t in part due to the lack of new frontiers. The void left when the great spirit of American pioneerism reached its end. I suppose that another whole post could be written on that subject, but my point is that I think there’s something in us that yearns for quests.
And it seems that adventures are as myriad as the people who are called to them. I have friends who literally travel to the ends of the globe, friends who spend their days working with special needs children, friends who commit to the journey of adoption, friends who give up their salary to stay home with their kids. Friends who look at the American dream and trust that a Good Shepherd can dream bigger.
So how do you know when it’s your adventure? How do you know that it’s not just a wild urge or a whim born out of boredom?
In my experience, it’s when you feel that nudge and your very responsible brain says, ‘no, no let’s be reasonable.’ And your ever wild heart starts to obey your brain, but looks back longingly.
I think that’s when you know.
When it somehow meets a wild and ferocious dream that maybe you never knew you had.
And I realize it’s not always so easy.
Sometimes it feels like no doors are open. But I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in spiritual claustrophobia. I am learning that there is always a door, but not always where you’d expect or feel comfortable seeing one. Sometimes it’s a trapdoor that opens to a dead fall until you reach the next door. And that’s scary!
And I worry that I’m starting to sound like a substance-less motivational poster, but my best advice is to defy the fear and chase that wild and ferocious dream. Because I don’t believe that He knit us together with gifts and desires to sit comfortably and calmly in our routines. It seems He would agree with e.e.cummings that,
It takes great courage to grow up and become who you really are.
So yes, it’s been scary and weird and at times extremely difficult to try and be who I really am and not the Adult Me that my littler self created. But it’s also invigorating and freeing in a way I simply cannot explain. Because it reminds me of that deep and resounding truth: that I’m not my job, I’m not my apartment, I’m not anyone’s expectations (especially my own) –
And chasing that identity is my greatest journey of all.
PS- Maybe you’re wondering where my journey has led me most recently. Well, my partner from that irresponsible ad class of mine hired me as an intern in her agency. Yes, I am older than all of the other interns and yes, I spend most of my day answering the phone and stocking the fridge. Yes, I took a huge salary cut and my paychecks make me cry.
But I also get to WRITE and be CREATIVE and LEARN and feed my gifts.
He is good, all the time.
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