I waver between being content right where I am and hoping for the next big adventure.
It’s why traveling is good for me. It gives me a taste of something new, but I still get to come home to a life I really like.
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to come home.
Nashville was one of those trips. My cousin and I went last weekend to spend some with my brother and to explore Lipscomb University, one of the colleges my cousin is considering as she graduates from high school this year. It was a fun trip, full of laughs and excitement and good food and kind people.
It made me so happy for my brother, so happy for the life he is living in Nashville, for the church he gets to attend and the people he gets to know. It made me happy for my cousin, who’s about to embark on such a fun and life-changing experience. Wherever she goes to college, it will be good. It will be redeemed by the One who makes all things good. And as I walked among the brick buildings and the tall trees, I thought about my own college experience, about the growing up I did, emotionally and spiritually. I thought about how good God is to us, how He takes our decisions and works them for His purpose.
When I was 18, Lipscomb was my top choice. (It must run in the family.) I loved its gorgeous campus, loved the casual atmosphere and the emphasis on spirituality. I loved the worship services and the open-mindedness. It was my number one school, and it was expensive.
The day I drove onto Faulkner University’s campus, I told my parents: “Absolutely not. I will never come here.” I got out of the car — I stubbornly had refused to exit the vehicle at a previous campus visit of a university I won’t name — and walked into the tiny library, visited the trailer serving as a work-out facility, then traveled down the unpaved road to the honors college, and for some unknown reason, my heart started to open.
I could have gone to Lipscomb. My life might look a lot different than it does now, but I could have gone there and been happy. I am convinced that there are lots of choices God leaves up to us. If we are prayerful and we are wise and we are earnest, God will hear the cries of our hearts, and He will grant us peace in our decision-making. I could have chosen Lipscomb, and everything would have turned out fine.
But I didn’t. For whatever reason, despite ranking third in my pro-con list and looking like nothing I’d ever seen in my Ivy League dreams, Faulkner became my answer. It became my home, the place where I did so much of my growing up.
Part of me envies my cousin, envies that she gets to start over like I did. New beginnings are such remarkable gifts. We don’t often see them that way in the moment, because they are stressful and hard and overwhelming. But when time passes, we see. We understand what they have done to our hearts, those fresh leaves all new and turned over, and we know that God has been good and given us what we wanted before we knew we wanted it.
And there is another, bigger part of me that is grateful that part of life is said and done. Those new beginnings are long gone, and others are on the horizon. I can visit a college campus without making a list of my likes and dislikes. I can look at Lipscomb and see that it is good, but Faulkner was good, too. I chose well. For a person who overachieves and overanalyzes, this is a relief. I chose well. The decision has been made, and the consequences are in effect. And they are good.
Jordan and I have talked here and there about the part that comes next. We’ve made a lot of decisions since our engagement four years ago, and we are happy with them. I am content with where our decisions have led us, just like I am content with the decision I made when I was young and silly and 18.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new leaves on the horizon, waiting to be turned. There are decisions to make about church and home and family, not all at once, of course, but eventually.
The old me, I think, might have been scared, nervous, concerned. I might have pulled out pen and paper for the pro-con list, might have analyzed which decisions could be wrong and which could be right.
I hope it is a sign of growth and maturity that I’m not reaching for a pen and paper.
Instead, I am approaching this life one day at a time, content, for a change, in the not knowing, content to be in Tallahassee and at our church and in our neighborhood and in our jobs right now, but with hope for the future, wherever it may be and whatever it may resemble. I am at peace, I think, because I can look behind me and see the good that has been done. And I have not done any of it.
He is so good to us, making light for our paths while keeping some of it dark. He takes the decisions and the choices we make, and He crafts them in ways we never would.
It was hard to leave Nashville. It was hard to leave my brother and the good food and the big-city-but-still-neighborly atmosphere. It was hard to leave his church, to know that we don’t really have that here right now. It was hard because it was so good.
Then I came home to a smiling husband, to friends who are becoming such precious kindred spirits, to an apartment we’ve worked hard to make ours. I came home to a Bible study I love, to dinner out with friends, to plans for 5ks and birthday trips and St. Patrick’s Day.
I realized this is good too.
And wherever we go next? Well, I suspect it will be good too.