In my early adult years, life appeared as less of a journey and more a series of loosely related events. I studied nursing in college (still trying to figure that path out), worked six jobs in five years, got married, birthed a baby, all while serving faithfully in church. I lived in a constant state of ‘getting ready to live’ rather than actually participating in life. I felt as if life was something happening to me, rather than me happening to it, and I often wondered when ‘real life’ would begin. I wasted years in the waiting.
After many years and many failed paths, it occurred to me that this was my life. Every week, every day, every moment, every decision or lack thereof. This was my real life, and I had the choice to actively take part in it, or let the days pass without leaving any of my fingerprints as proof I lived it. I didn’t want a life of loosely related events. I wanted to choose my own path, one in which I would leave traces of myself behind as I made my way. I wanted tangible proof that I walked here. I stumbled in the brush ahead, sat with my back against the old oak, picked a bouquet of wildflowers, and I continued moving forward.
In order to participate in life fully, we need to start by asking ourselves some difficult questions. I return to the same questions again and again.
What do I want my journey to look like?
I knew I didn’t want it to look like the inside of a hospital room. I knew I wanted to stay home and watch my kids grow up. I knew I needed to stop teaching Sunday school because other people’s kids require more patience than I possess. In time, I got around to the bigger questions about purpose and dreaming and art.
What can I do today to take another step on this path?
I needed to break down the journey into small steps. This is where the whole marathon analogy comes into play. One step, one run, one training day at a time. Eventually, you make it to race day but not before taking many small and painful steps.
What do I need to take on the journey?
We’ll discuss this more in-depth, but I’m going to start with faith of mustard seed proportions.
What do I need to leave behind?
Baggage, friends. Every untrue thing. And your Fear. It will only weigh you down.
Who will I bring along with me?
We’ll talk more about this too, but I think it’s safe to say the Author and Finisher of our faith might be a good start.
There are more questions to be sure, but these help us set a plan for our journey and ensure we stay on the right path, with the right people, carrying the right gear.
Go ahead and ask yourself the hard questions. I remained stuck on the first one for a good ten years, but I refused to listen to the quiet stirrings of my heart. You’re already listening. Tune your ear to the sound of the gentle thrumming hidden beneath the noise of your every day life. Let it tell you its secrets.