Sunday, May 16, 2010

I just came home from a graduation party, can you tell?

The future still confuses me. Because even though I think I understand about pursuing a vision, and God-opened doors, and other inspirational rhetoric, stifled plans kill me.

I tell myself it doesn't matter where I end up, so long as I have a chance to interact with people. People are the only thing that matter, and you don't need a degree to pour yourself into people. The degree gives you the job that gives you a circle of influence. I think receptionist might be the greatest job in the world -- you know how many people a receptionist interacts with in a day? How a good receptionist is hard to find, how a good receptionist sets the tone of the office, whether your experience there is positive or negative? We have the greatest receptionist at our doctor's office, I love her, she's so nice and so good at her job. Conversely, we've gone places with bitter and irascible receptionists. And we haven't gone back. You know what I mean.

But see, there's so much pressure in that job. You have a bad day -- tired, grumpy, not feeling so well, everything converging in a swell of notsome -- boom, dealing with obnoxious and pushy and difficult people, and you're the one whose job is on the line if you get crabby.

But doesn't that also sound like the greatest challenge a Christian could face? Opporunities just handed to you every single day, to love on people. To be a servant, to be humble, to be a light. Receptionists are like the at-home missionaries.

But I've gotten off track.

Do what you love. I've been told that so many times. I'm not entirely sure what it is I love. As much as I love literature, that's a useless pursuit that only edifies myself. If there's anything I must flee above all else, it's a selfish, self-oriented life. So you know what I love to do? Missions trips. It means more to me every day I look back on it, and I do, I think of it often, but that time spent in San Francisco was among the best five days of my life. I don't say that lightly. It's okay if you don't believe me though, that's what I get for dabbling in hyperbole. I don't even know, what is it that I love? Having my heart transformed through simple meaningless tasks. But they're not meaningless. I've never made sno-cones with more meaning in my life.

Meagan and I decided to go back to San Francisco, next summer, for their Summer of Service program. That sounds stupid, like we'll never do it. I want to do it. Wanting doesn't make it so. Two years ago I said I was traveling to London the summer I graduated. No cigar. But, instead I'm headed on not one, but two missions trips as a last hurrah with my dearly beloved youth group. Dare I say that this plan is better? Micah can tell me if London is worth the airfare, or if I should just let my dream die already. And so, if Meagan and I don't do SOS in San Francisco, I know it'll because I'm doing something better. And if that's having a summer job to pay for college, as much as the thought pains me from where I am now, and oh, it pains me . . . I trust, I have to trust that I'm supposed to be where I end up.

And so I'm saying good-bye to my plans . . . [the idealistic ones I always knew would never come true no matter how hard I wished it . . .]

While at the same time I'm in some dire need of some other plans. Occupational ones. I don't know. I could go to law school. Law degrees are useful. I could do things in the state house, in politics. I could specialize in mission organization litigation. Law degrees, it doesn't matter much what your undergrad is. I could study English if I wanted. It's such a useless degree . . . but, I like reading, and I like writing about what I've read, I love how literature marries culture and society and psychology and philosophy and history, sometimes even science. I could double major. I could get perfect grades. I could graduate with zero undergraduate debt. I could stay in school forever, get a doctorate, pursue tenure. This is so silly, vague aspirations for things I perceive as important that I'm not even vaguely convinced I want!

I don't really know what I want out of college. I haven't the foggiest idea what's supposed to come after college. I guess, get a job and get married? I don't know what kind of a job I want. How can I have a plan for the future when I don't even know what the future's supposed to be like? I, am having difficulties articulating what I mean. What I mean is, I don't know what it's like to live a responsible adult life. And I'm trying to think realistically, to prepare for a responsible adult life. Responsible adults make sacrifices, responsible adults can't do just whatever it is they want to do.

When my dad was my age, he was going to school to be a Christian counselor, and now he's a mailman. Part of me feel terrible: my dad is such a wise man who cares so much about people, he's so smart. I think he would have made a brilliant counselor. Why would God allow him to be a mailman? I don't know. But my dad is where he's supposed to be. And God is blessing him, and using him for it. I don't know, the death of a plan makes me heartsick, but, I have to, I have to trust it's better this way.

I'm so afraid of living an ordinary life, but, maybe I'm supposed to. Idealistic teens planning to travel the world and do insane yet useful things, few people end up doing that kind of stuff. Living their dreams so to speak. Usually life ends up more normal than that. And even though four years ago the thought of growing up, getting a job, having a family, and living in the suburbs sounded like the worst possible life, the security and familiarity and normality of it comforts me. That's something I know how to do. It's been modeled for me. In a life like that, I might have some chance at success. An ordinary life sounds stifling, but, maybe that's a lie. This dramatic change the world stuff also sounds like a lie.

A guy named James Hunter has written a book called How to Change the World -- I haven't read it, I need to finish Robinson Crusoe first, I think -- and ironically, it's about how individuals can't change the world, and the importance of institutions and groups and unity bringing about change. At least, I think that's what it's about. I haven't read it, but, that's what the article I read about it said it was about. Ugh. Yeah, I make myself sad. A lot. I hate realism, for robbing me of my idealistic hopes for a meaningful future. I don't know if "settling" for an "ordinary" life is failure. I don't know if I should pursue wild, ambitious change-the-world things if I'm not convinced they're what I want. Catch Me If You Can used to be my favorite movie, but now I wonder if it's foolishness . . . I want to be where God wants me to be, and I don't know what I mean by that.

My mom reminds me, I used to be so ambitious, I used to have such grand plans! I wanted big things, I wanted to change the world, be useful, make a difference! She reminds me, "Without a vision, the people perish." She asks me, "What do you want to do with your life?" But what vision do I have beyond Micah 6:8? Am I wrong to be so content with my lack of a plan? Am I directionless? I don't think I am . . . but I worry, I worry. I feel as though I've been equivocating, and I've masked the issue, so I don't know what question I'm actually asking. I think, I don't need to have my life planned out in order to be useful to God. But I think, I have to plan to be useful to God, or else, I am purposeless and truly without meaning. I think, it's about not earthly conditions, but an attitude, a kingdom perspective. This conclusion is fine for now.

Nothing is more irksome to me than the fact that I must continually struggle with this question when I already know the answer!


Lis said...

can't post for the sake of bedtime...but doing so for just a moment anyway for the sake of...


... knowing it's okay that I tell you later? A screensaver? But that. asgukusdhfkusdg! Yes. I am going to bed now. <3

Art said...

"I don't even know, what is it that I love? Having my heart transformed through simple meaningless tasks." Yes, me too!

I very much relate to this post. Like, yeah, I understand the not knowing what to aspire to. And I've been thinking about how bad it is to be ordinary.

Trusting God is the answer, isn't it?