Easter weekend | shadow & light
With change there is always transition. Personally I don’t think its possible to change without there being a transition in-between. You can change the color of your room and yet there is a time when you are repainting. You can change apartments, and there is a time of shifting furniture. You can even change cities. And with that there is a time to get to know the new surroundings.
Twenty-three. What a strange number of years to turn and tell others that is the number of years lived. 23. It’s a transition number. A right-after-graduation number. It’s in-between that freshness of getting out of the teen years, being able to buy a drink, or two, and being completely invested in a set career while knowing exactly how life is taking you when you hit those thirties. I have been re-reading and listening to a new favorite author of mine. Her book, Bitterweet, is all about the changes. There is an excerpt from her chapter titled, twenty-five, that most definitely elucidates where I myself, and possibly many friends, are in this transition stage of life. As we are in this stage, it seems so is the season. Earlier this week the sun was in the same plane as the earth’s equator, which told the earth it’s time for spring, vernal equinox. On that spring day, we had some snow. It only seems right that this transition would be at the same time as Lent, but that’s a whole other thought process for a whole different day (coming soon). The struggle of the earth to shift and see that the winds are changing and not so chill, that the frost is melting for ground to break, and the snow is ready for the rain to take its turn is when Spring recognizes its place and time.
Like being 23-ish or 25-ish even. Shauna Niequist writes honesty in a way only I could wish to express, and you may find something that describes you in the midst of these words. I share this exquisite integrity in hopes it may influence your heart and fill your head—
“I know that age is, of course, one of the most arbitrary ways of measuring a person…age, like numbers on a scale and letters on a report card, tells us very little of who we are. You decide every year exactly how young and how old you want to be. When you’re twenty-five-ish, you’re old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or roommate always used to play. You know how to walk in heels, how to tie a necktie, how to give a good toast at a wedding, and how to make something for dinner. You don’t have to think much about skin care, home ownership, or your retirement plan. Your life can look a lot of different ways when you’re twenty-five, (twenty-three-ish): single, dating, engaged, married. You are working in dream jobs, pay-the-bills jobs, and downright terrible jobs. You are young enough to believe that anything is possible, and you are old enough to make that belief a reality.
Now is the time to figure out what kind of work you love to do. What are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What do you dream about? You can go back to school now, switch directions entirely. You can work for almost nothing, or live in another country, or volunteer long hours for something that moves you. There will be a time when finances and schedules make this a little trickier, so do it now. Try it, apply for it, and get up and do it. When I was twenty-five I was in my third job in as many years- I was frustrated at the end of the third year, because I didn’t know exactly what to do next. I met with my boss, who was in his fifties. I told him how anxious I was about finding the one perfect job for me, and quick. He asked me how old I was, and when I told him I was 25, he told me that I couldn’t complain to him about finding the right job until I was thirty-two. In his opinion, it takes about ten years after college to find the right fit, and anyone who finds it earlier than that is just plain lucky. So use every bit of your ten years. Try things, take classes, start over. Now is also the time to get serious about relationships. And “serious” might mean walking away from the ones that don’t give you everything you need. Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without. One of the most devastating mistakes you can make in this season is staying with the wrong person. It’s not fair to that person, and it’s not fair to you. Twenty-five-ish is also a great time to start counseling, if you haven’t already, and it might be a good round two of counseling if it’s been awhile. You might have just enough space from your parents to start digging around your childhood a little bit. Unravel the knots that keep you from living a healthy whole life, and do it now, before any more time passes.
Twenty-five-ish is the perfect time to get involved in a church that you love, no matter how different it is from the one you were a part of growing up. Be patient and prayerful, and decide that you’re going to be a person who grows, who seeks your own faith, who lives with intention. Set your alarm on Sunday mornings, no matter how late you were out on Saturday night. It will be dreadful at first, and then after a few weeks, you’ll find that you like it, that the pattern of it fills up something inside you.
Try different kinds of communities, different sizes and denominations and traditions… I know that most people need a season of space, a time to take a step back and evaluate the spiritual context of their youth…but it’s very easy for a season of space to turn into several years without any kind of spiritual groundedness. It’s easy to wake up several years from now and find yourself unable to locate that precious, faith-filled part of your heart and history, because it slowly disintegrated over months and years. Don’t do that. Do whatever you have to do to connect with God in a way that feels authentic and truthful to you. Do it now, so that you don’t regret the person you become, little by little, over time, without it.
This is the thing: when you start to hit twenty-eight or thirty, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their twenties to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging on to college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate because they’re scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.
Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like; Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that keeping me from moving forward?
These years will pass much more quickly than you think they will. You will go to lots of weddings, and my advice, of course, is to dance your pants off at every single one. You’ll watch TV and run on the treadmill and go on dates, some of them great and some of them terrible. Time will pass, and all of a sudden, things will begin to feel a little more serious. You wont be old, of course. But you will want to have some things figured out, and the most important things only get figured out if you dive into them now.
For a while in my early twenties I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me. I feel more like myself with each passing year, and you’ll find that, too. Every year, you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it. I promise.
Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” – Shauna Niequist.
This is what these transition years are for. It is alright to feel the shift in the changes. It’s okay to watch the frost melt so the ground can bloom. It’s a process and time is part of it. This is why we are living in the in-between. To become.
-You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
-I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
-Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
-Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
[ Oceans, where feet may fail ]
Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~Henry David Thoreau
Its crazy to think I’ve been living in Maine just over a month now. A month is a long time that has passed so quickly. Everyday I walk across the street into downtown and then meander my way by the water I am reminded of how much I love this city. I’ve said it a hundred times that the combination of water, boats, buildings, and brick walkways makes it so easy to live here. Even the seagulls like to perch on the buildings inland, as inland as it can be. I’ve only met the nicest people. Everyone seems to be very inviting. (I mean, a stranger bought me a concert ticket)
March really did come in like a lion. I went home that first weekend to celebrate the marriage of two dear friends. It was the most sincere, loving, praiseful ceremony I have been apart of. It snowed in Nashville, maybe because I brought it down south, who knows, but no one was expecting snow. My sister came into town and I am so thankful we both were able to spend that Sunday sitting around the house with both sides of the family. I felt as if I never left home, even though Maine was calling my name, yet again. Opportunities are coming through the walls. March is the month.
It is also the month that has made me miss people even more. This was the time, a year ago, when my college friends became the closest and created some of the best memories. It was that time of knowing school was coming to a close and we would all move in a thousand different directions. And we have. My friends are all over the place, which right now is the coolest thing to see.
I have been talking of and catching up with friends very consistently lately, which is a blessing, but also makes me miss them even more. I remember when we had our last goodbyes in Birmingham and then reuniting in the summer. I remember saying goodbye to all the wonderful friends at camp and how that was one of the hardest goodbye ceremonies to endure, I think that is where I started disliking goodbyes. I think back on last semester and miss the weekly walks and routines with certain people, specific meeting places, last dinners put together, and especially the last two nights in that old apartment. It was those last two nights that hit hard- I was going to move away and at that point had it stuck in my head I would be in Maine. I remember saying goodbye and feeling pain where something was missing. You know those friends you miss deep down in the soul, where you can feel that missing place in spirit because you are so far apart. That is what it was like those last two nights. I remember laughing so hard- then as my friends walked out and the door closed, my laughter turned to tears. Pain and joy springing from the same place and overlapping one another. It is hard to think that in an instance those feelings can happen, but it is a beautiful thing as well. A.A. Milne says “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” And how true, and how lucky, and how thankful, because I was reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness and how He has been present within these relationships in my life.
These past couple weeks I’ve missed spending quality time with the friends that consistently blow me away. In college I never expected the Lord to bless me with friends like mine. Now I am living where I always dreamed, and yes I still miss their company. I am thankful for communication and how connecting from far away is easy these days, although smoke signals and carrier pigeons seem fun to test out, skype, phone calls and sending messages have allowed me to hear and picture what life is like for them. I love hearing stories about work and school and people. I am thankful to connect and maintain the community. Now some friends are about to experience what we did a year ago. It’s that time in life.
It is a blessing we each are exploring and experiencing where the Lord wants us. Even though we are far apart there is that thread that connects. We know the Lord is working in different ways and in different places, but there is something about sharing stories and hardships and hopes and dreams that connect us and I believe it is the Spirit that moves through us. Those memories brought us to these places right now. I believe it is prayer for one another and the thoughts that can bring us back together. For lent this year, because it was right after Valentines Day, I decided to write at least one letter a day to someone and pray for that person. Some messages from Maine to reassure that nothing is forgotten. It feels vulnerable to even share that out loud. Prayer and being in communion with the Lord is such a personal connection to me. It seems that with the move to Maine, prayer and communication guides me through each day. I miss the closeness of community. I miss those friends that have blessed and changed me. Lent is a special time and to think of what the Lord withstood on His journey and how it connects with Lenten tradition is special in itself.
Moving to Maine was very much for my own benefit. Everything I am doing is so focused on where I am going and where I am to be that it starts to feel a little self-consuming. I want to take time out of every day to focus my attention on those friends I am missing. I want the communication to stay and this way it can. There is something about that feeling of missing someone, but knowing the Lord is working exactly where they are and exactly where I am is exciting and joyous. I am thankful to have people to miss. Knowing all the things my friends are experiencing in different places, states, occupations, etc. is a wonderful thing. There is an excitement for them and a want to be right next to them experiencing life- but knowing I am where I need to be is also important. I am beyond excited for what I will be doing in Maine and I am extremely joyful knowing my friends are somewhere else in the world doing what the Lord will’s them to be doing. I miss them the same amount but am happy knowing where they are and where I am. That’s how life goes. The bitter and the sweetness. Of being filled while feeling the missing. The saying goodbyes to say hello. Of being apart only to be connected. Now the Spirit has the power to bridge and bond missing places. Thank the Lord for communication with Him and communication across state lines. There is a reason I miss so deeply, but what a privilege it is to come before the Lord on another’s behalf.
May the Lord be between you and me forever.
“When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me… You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – Fredrick buechner
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”—Acts 14:22.
GOD’S people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.