I received my high school diploma four years ago. Since that time I’ve decided upon four different majors, been to four different schools and have had a whole host of ideas about what exactly I wanted to do with my life. Indeed, even as I begin to write, I have had a hard time deciding what I should write about.
Maybe I have issues with commitment, or maybe I am incredibly indecisive. Really, the only thing I am fairly certain of, is that I am not unlike many of my peers.
Like my friends, I find myself spending hours at bookstores partly because I want to indulge my mind and partly to give off the impression that I am an intellectual. (Perhaps I’m not fooling anyone.) On this particular day though, I passed an entire section dedicated to careers. One would think, upon flipping through the pages of a book describing a pathway to employment, that answers would be found. Hardly. Nearly every career in these books gives a strong case to why you should be a lawyer, teacher or doctor. A doctor? I’ve already decided three years ago that I do not want to be a doctor, why am I giving it another chance?
Decisions do not come easy in a day when each day new websites, new jobs and new chances for choice are created. How on earth am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life when I can’t even decide what clothes I’m going to wear each day?
After the stress and panic wears off a little, I think that many of us are reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, “’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’” (TNIV). We all need that reminder, don’t we? We all need it, because there are times when it seems like there are absolutely no plans in our lives. We have no direction, no answers and no idea what tomorrow holds. Is it possible that this inability to decide and have a plan is actually part of our journey?
This past week I ended an internship I’ve had at a local church and have since found myself in an incredibly nauseating state of soul searching. In the past few days I’ve had a hard time defining exactly who I am, because I do not know exactly what I want to be. I may be wrong, but in my encounters with my peers, I think nearly every one of us spends time in vocational limbo. And that, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.
When we speak of Christianity as a journey, what do we mean? Well, when we think of a traveler on a journey, do we think of a freshly paved, smooth, black road, devoid of any obstacles or stumbling blocks along the way? No, what do we think of? We see an individual with a quest, an adventure and a purpose. This is the journey, roadblocks and all. I don’t think that God desires to see us panic, but I strongly believe in God’s divine hand in every aspect and every turn along the way.
Perhaps our inability to decide what we want to be, or lack of identity about who we want to become, or even our failure to see what lies ahead in the next few years isn’t so much of a cause for concern as we tend to think. In our times of frustration, confusion and desperation, God says, “Yes, this is exactly where you need to be—before I can speak into your life, before you will listen to the things I’ve been trying to tell you.”
Writing has not helped me figure out what I want to do with my life—though it has sparked an interest in journalism. There is still some tension in my life, as well as a continuing pursuit of what my future holds. I can imagine that in each of our lives there will be days when we will feel stressed and even more days when we can’t seem to grasp why a God—who is called Love—will not end this painfully awkward stage of life early. But maybe we aren’t supposed to know it all right away. Maybe what we go through today shapes what we will be in the future. Without the detours, the bumps and the roadblocks, we may never have the ability to be the person God intended us to be.
So, may we, in spite of our near sightedness as humans, continue to travel down our winding roads. May we believe that this limbo we face is a necessary part to becoming a whole person. May we, as believers in an endlessly creative God, trust that every single part of our journey is intentional, and in response to this, rejoice, because we know that one day it will all make perfect sense.