Monday, April 30, 2012

Identity Crisis (Part 2)

          So, I started my so-called "series" and I thought I was going somewhere with it, and then I made the mistake of not taking down my thoughts for a follow-up. (Life Lesson #5893: Always write down your ideas before they escape)

          I was mostly just thinking along the lines that maybe, at least for me personally, it would have been better to take a break after high school. Take a sort of non-paid sabbatical to pray, think, plan, explore, travel, etc. But, the problem for those who went to public school is the push to go straight to college, and I allowed myself to be pushed. My thoughts at the time were: "Most of my friends are going to college, I don't want to be behind," and "What if I can't get any scholarships if I wait." In hindsight, my worries were simple-minded, but I was only 18, clueless and unsure. Of course, now I'm 27 and still feel clueless and unsure. At the time, I thought that college was a safety net. It kept me in the school calendar (with holidays!) and supposedly guaranteed a career, right? We were fed the idea that all you need is a degree and you can do anything! No one told me what the real world was like:

Every month, a pile of bills shows up; in order to get that "dream job" you have to go through job listings, applications, cover letters, phone calls, interviews, background checks, health insurance policies, taxes...; all that free time that used to cause boredom is gone; some of those who get married have to suddenly perform an amazing balancing act with family time, classes, housecleaning, hobbies, etc.; and those who are single realize that social opportunities seem to diminish almost entirely after leaving the school system, and even when those opportunities present themselves, they always seem to conflict with a full-time work schedule!

          I'm sure I've left out a lot, but that is only an example of the things that bombard young adults as we enter the adult life. I'm sure there are many older adults who still feel overwhelmed by life and what the future may hold, generally and personally. I don't really have a conclusion to this because life is hard and none of know where we will end up down the road. But, don't lose heart. I'm not going to sit here and give a motivational speech about following your dreams, but there is always hope. I think of two of my favorite Bible verses: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Prov. 3:5-6) and "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) I know I've used those verses before, but that's why they are some of my favorites. I wish I would have been more driven to seek God's will and godly counsel back when I was making decisions as a teenager. I don't know if I would have done things differently with college and choosing a major, but I think I would feel more confident now if I would have sought out what God wanted instead of what I thought I wanted. I remember going on a mission trip between my junior and senior year of college. I realized that I had not allowed God to make a calling in my life. I was about to finish off my last semester of classes and a semester of student teaching, and I had not given much thought to whether this was where God wanted me. Did He want me to teach or should I have considered missions? At that point, it was too late, I was locked into that major, there was nothing I could change to and still finish in a year. I couldn't stay longer because I had student loans I would have to start paying off. I realized that not only had I not explored more options, but I had not acknowledged God's plan for me; I felt stuck.

          As I stated earlier, there is always hope. Things may have gone more smoothly if I would have recognized God's will for my life sooner, but it is never too late to turn back to Him. He can still use these milestones and past choices to bring my life into His plan. Life is still hard and adulthood still comes before we are ready for it, but if we allow God to take control, our lives will produce fruit.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him..." (Phil. 3:7-9)
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