I don’t have the slightest clue where I’m going, and it scares the hell out of me.
First, let me back up. I’m a goal-setting, big-dreaming, reach for the stars kind of person, and I’m proud of that. But I’d be lying if I said that hasn’t been to a fault sometimes. My go-getter ambitions trick me into feeling like I’m in control. Not just that, but they’ve even lead me to be a control freak in some ways- some really unfortunate ways.
Some things have been pretty innocent. If I wanted to shed a few pounds, I'd bump up the yoga regimen and cut back on the carbs. If I wanted something for Christmas, I’d add it to my Amazon wish list. But I didn’t stop there… I told myself if I was married by 30, I could still have a kid by the “safe age” of 35. If I had salary X right now, I was projected to have salary Y in the next few years. My goals and plans, while well-intentioned, have come with really high expectations. I expect myself write a book, be fluent in Spanish, run a marathon, and basically save the world while I'm at it.
I make lists. I make plans. I find ways. It’s taken me far. It’s gotten me a lot that I want. But it’s made me forget that I don’t ever really have control, regardless of how "in control" I may feel. I’m sure God gets a good laugh at all my little plans. I’m sure He’s sitting up in heaven saying “Aw, you think that's how it's going to play out? That’s adorable."
A few months ago, one of my plans fell apart and I felt destroyed. In response, I booked a trip to New York to visit a friend. What started as a means of escape turned into a journey that would be a lesson. My flight home was cancelled. My friend that I was visiting was leaving for another trip the same day of my originally scheduled departure, so not only was I stuck for another 3 days, but for 3 days all by myself in a city that wasn’t mine. More plans failing- more frustration. Later that night after picking up the pieces, I treated myself to a decadent meal and ate alone with my book. In that moment I slowly shifted from frustration to appreciation. Yes, I was alone. Yes things hadn’t worked out how I wanted. But a few weeks ago I had no plans for New York. If you asked me where I would be, I would have guessed at Chipotle or home watching Scandal. But there I was- eating risotto and sipping wine and reading a book over candle light by the NYC skyline. I was on an adventure.
On this same New York trip, I connected with another friend who’s a fashion blogger that was in town for NYFW. This friend was really more of an acquaintance. I really liked her a lot, but we live in different cities and have never really had a chance to get that close. She met me at Beauty and Essex for a cocktail and we caught up. I told her my about all my recent plans that had failed and she generously offered a listening ear. She also offered an invitation to come visit her in Florida if I ever needed to get away. I told her I’d love that and talked about how fun it would be.
We say those kind of things a lot. Things we should do. Things that sound fun and we know we would enjoy. But we rarely actually do them:
“We should grab coffee sometime!”
“Let’s do dinner soon!”
“We’re overdue for a catch up- let’s make that happen."
But for whatever reason, this time I actually did. I followed up. We picked a weekend. I booked a flight to Jacksonville, and I'm headed there tonight. I’ve never been to Jacksonville. I’ve never spent more than 2 hours alone with this friend. I’m not going for any particular event, so there’s no agenda or plan, and I’m so excited about it all. These days I don’t care as much about planning every detail or knowing what’s going to happen at every turn. These days, I’m up for an adventure.
It’s easy to be excited for an adventure that involves a sweet friend and Florida sunshine, but I'm on other adventures that look a lot scarier. I haven’t the slightest clue what life has in store for me. I used to have plans and timelines and expectations for the next several years. But I’m learning that what people have been saying for all of eternity is actually very true: that life doesn’t always go according to our plans.
Life doesn’t come with a step by step instruction manual. If it does, I sure haven’t seen it but I’d imagine it looks a lot like the ones you get when you’re trying to put together IKEA furniture. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It’s seemingly impossible to navigate sometimes. But isn’t it a lovely thought that we don’t have to have it all figured out at once?
I once heard someone say that faith in God is like the headlights on our car: it doesn’t shine so bright that you see all the way to your end destination, just brightly enough to keep guiding you to the next place right in front of you. How humbling to think that we trust our headlights enough to drive 70mph in the dark without giving it second thought, but we freak out when God doesn’t show us all our answers at once.
So yes, I don’t have the slightest clue where I’m going, and it scares the hell out of me. But I’m ready to grab the microphone from the high-strung control freak within, force feed her a Lortab and put her to bed. I’m ready to be excited about the unknown and embrace the road that I’m on. I’m ready stop working and forcing and start relaxing and trusting God. I’m ready for adventure.
So wheels up. Jacksonville, I’m headed your way.