The past six months of my life have been focused entirely on achieving two goals: marrying the love of my life and moving to California with him. Those two things have been the motivation behind everything I’ve been doing since around April of this year. I’m very much a “Type A” person, so naturally I created a list of steps that needed to be taken in order to make these two things happen. For each of the steps on that list, I created mini lists made up of items I believed would help me achieve them. In case it’s not already obvious, I LOVE lists.
Step one was to graduate from college. On May 6th, I completed that step. Step two was to plan the wedding. I spent the entirety of June and July checking off the millions of items that made up that list. Even as a Type A individual, I found myself overwhelmed at times by the amount of things that needed to be done. Nevertheless, the wedding planning was completed just in the nick of time, and I married my wonderful husband on August 12th. It was the most beautiful moment of my life thus far. I wish I were better with my words because any description I try to give you all of that event or my husband simply won’t do either justice. I truly can’t express how blessed I feel to wake up next to him everyday.
With step three completed, I moved onto step four: pack up and drive across the country. This was surprisingly easier than I initially anticipated. We only got lost a few times, and my husband and I were still married by the time we reached Davis! Needless to say, I was VERY happy to check that off of my list when we finally arrived in California. Overall, it was a beautiful drive filled with many memorable moments, and I’m grateful that my husband and I were able to share such a unique experience together.
The last step was to move into the house in Davis and unpack. I felt so satisfied when I finally checked off that final step. After all, it’s not every day that you complete something that’s been six months in the making! What a relief it was to finally be in the place I had worked so very hard to get to. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. For the first time in a long time, I found myself without a list.
The relief I felt started to fade quickly. What was I supposed to do without something to do? Of course I had to go to orientation, and I knew I would have things to do in my role at Lutheran Social Services, but I kept thinking, “What’s the point of it all? What’s my goal?” I realized that with everything going on, I hadn’t really had a chance to think about what would come next after it was all said and done. I had been so busy planning, doing, checking, and going, going, going that I didn’t know what to do with myself now that it was all over. I sat in my room silently panicking. Over the next three to four weeks, I found myself questioning myself more than ever. I thought, “This is exactly why I hate having too much time on my hands! It’s so much better to be busy.”
It wasn’t until I had my first meeting with my spiritual director (SD) that I finally started to see the blessing in all of this. We talked about many things during that first meeting, but one point in our conversation was especially impactful for me. My SD asked me what I wanted to get out of our meetings together, and I completely froze. “Um…if you’re asking me what my goals are,” I began, “I’m not really sure.” I started to fumble through some ideas, and then I finally just gave up and said, “I really don’t know.” I was embarrassed, and I started to feel uncomfortable.
Then my SD said something I wasn’t expecting, “It’s okay not to know. That’s part of the beauty of this experience. You don’t have to know.” After months and months of feeling like I had to have a plan…of feeling like I had to know what was going to happen…of feeling like I had to have things under control, someone was telling me that wasn’t necessary. It felt so counter-intuitive that I wasn’t sure what to make of her comment at the time, but I carried it with me out of that meeting and it’s stuck with me ever since. Of course, I’ve been told that it’s okay not know before, but I always found it hard to believe when everything moving around me seemed to say otherwise. From what I’ve seen, our culture perceives someone without a plan as lazy and/or unmotivated, and I certainly never want to be categorized as either of those things. But my SD reminded me that God himself says it’s okay not to know. Scripture is filled with verses about the Lord’s plan for us. Some of my favorite examples of this come from the book of Proverbs.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” –Proverbs 16:9
I’m not sure why that particular interaction with my spiritual director made the lesson finally sink in for me, but I am so grateful for the Lord’s hand in all of that. His timing could not have been more perfect. I feel comfortable now answering questions about what I’ll be doing after my LEVN year with a response of, “I don’t know.” In fact, I say it with a smile and more confidence than ever before. I’m going to do my best to embrace this uncertain time in my life and to use it to explore the possibility of God’s plan for my life instead of relying on my own. Here’s to a year of being okay with unanswered questions and of much less list making. I’m here, Lord. What now?
Lutheran Social Services of Northern California