I’ve been waking up during the night a lot recently, my mind spinning like the blades of the fan I keep on full blast in my room (fall has not yet arrived in Southern California).
The thoughts always start small and innocent enough, like how I should probably start investing in kitchen goods and pieces of furniture. I’ve been lucky the last few years, to live with people who own such things, which means it will be a rude awakening when I make my next move and suddenly own nothing but an armchair and a mismatched set of measuring cups.
However, these seemingly innocuous thoughts always manage to evolve into something more distressing, like,
But I can’t afford to buy kitchen things, let alone furniture. I don’t even own this mattress I’m laying on. How much do mattresses cost? I bet they are expensive. Why isn’t there some societal practice where your community buys you frying pans and fitted sheets, just for being young and broke? Why do you only get to register for things if you are getting married? I don’t have a fiancé, but I do need a toaster. And silverware. And a washing machine. I wonder if I could have a ‘finished my master’s degree’ shower? Could I register for something like that?
This line of thought, of course, is not actually about toasters or mattresses or measuring cups. These worries are simply symptoms of the root anxiety I feel about my young adult life, particularly where it is heading, and if I am doing it right.
Oh my gosh, my master’s degree. Who gets a masters degree in Bible Exposition? I love the Bible, yeah, but what a wildly impractical field of study. What are you even going to do with that, Sarah Christine? You’re frustrated that you’re not completing your degree fast enough, but what, pray tell, do you even plan on doing with this insane degree?
Sure, you have dreams of a PhD, but don’t you know that that will take another 5-7 years after you finish this program? This program that you’re taking WAY too long to complete. And that’s only if you get good enough grades to get in to a doctorate program! By the way, who is going to pay for that? Do you even have what it takes to study Greek? Don’t you remember how terrible you were at foreign languages in college?
And if you suck at Greek, they are going to think it’s because you’re a girl, and that your lady brain just can’t hack it. This is crazy. You did not think this through. This was a bad life choice. Look at your friends, with their plans and practical degrees and financially stable jobs! DID YOU FALL ON YOUR HEAD? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?
Brennan Manning says that the way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not some predetermined or clearly delineated plan for the future.
The way of trust, he says, is when God signals a movement, offering only his presence and his promise.
Perhaps the most frustrating and beautiful and crazy making part of this season of my life, and this wildly impractical degree I’m pursuing, is that while I wonder why I’m doing it, or if I even can do it, I know, oh I know, that I am absolutely supposed to be doing it.
I know, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I am supposed to be here, working this job, living in this California suburb tucked between Los Angeles & the ocean, taking these classes, slowly chipping away at this degree.
It is not glamorous. It is not exciting. Had I been given the option, I don't know that I would have chosen it. And I definitely don't know where it will lead.
Maybe seeing the whole picture would distract me from what I'm supposed to be faithful to and with in this present and altogether ordinary moment.
Maybe seeing the whole picture would rob me of the opportunity to trust, to find God in the small quiet hours of the morning, whispering over my worry words about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.
Maybe it would rob me of the opportunity to pray along with the father of the demonized boy, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief, and an exasperated Peter, Lord, to whom else would we go?
It would rob me of leaning into his presence and his promise, and finding them to be enough.