Monday, January 23, 2012

Another new chapter

Are you a reader? I’m a reader.

As readers, I think we’re all familiar with the concept of comparing life to a book. And for the most part, it’s an excellent, if way overused, metaphor.

But there are a couple of exceptions that keep the comparison from being exactly apples to apples (and yep, I’m cliche-ing all over the place today). So let’s explore them for a sec, shall we? And then I promise, I’ll get to my point.

#1 When you read a book, like it or not, you’re subjecting yourself to authorial manipulation. Don’t believe it? Think about the range of emotions you experience when you’re reading. You’re up, you’re down, you’re caught in a game of suspense, torn between your allegiance to two different fictional love interests (Twilight readers, raise your hand). Authors craft their writing carefully, choosing scenarios that will play on your emotion and using suspension to build enough tension to carry the story as the plot pushes on.

When you’re living life, you’re still going to experience a vast range of emotions. The amazing difference? No manipulation is involved. The Author of your life is a good, loving Father who sees the span of your experience, but has given you the free will to write your story alongside Him. Surprises will happen, and love interests will inevitably have to be chosen between…but isn’t there such a freedom in knowing that the heart of this Author is for you?

#2 In books, you can almost always feel the changes coming. The suspension is built slowly, cliffhangers nudge you forward, and when the big “AHA” moment finally comes, you’re ready. It’s another part of that authorial manipulation, after all!

In life, sometimes we don’t get that advantage. Things just seem to happen, whether good or bad, completely out of the blue. At times, changes don’t seem to make sense. And often times, we just don’t feel ready when it’s time to move on to a new chapter of life. At all.

#3 In books, you can skip ahead when the tension gets too high. Or at least I do!

In life, you’re lucky if you can see five minutes into your own future! It’s one of the most frustrating things about making decisions or being surprised by change—our human inability to see exactly how it’s all going to work out. And so that tension has the tendency to turn, in real life, to anxiety or over-control.

Here’s a confession: in life, I’ve been known to forget #1, dread #2, and succumb wholeheartedly to #3’s temptation to panic.

But that stops now. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, exactly. Just a refusal to overthink the changes. If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s to accept the open-endedness of a life lived moment-to-moment with Him.

I graduated Pepperdine a year early without a plan and without any idea of how to start building a life for myself. If my life was a book, that definitely would have been the point where I would have tried to skip ahead a few chapters to see how it would all work out. But praise God, He walked me through a series of experiences that taught me how to stop trying so hard to see the big picture and trust Him fully in every circumstance.

There were fun interludes, like competing in Miss Dallas. There were deeply-felt losses, like the passing of my grandmother—a woman who was not only my hero, but a kindred spirit and a dear friend as well. There were unexpected paths to adventure that opened up, like the offer to live and work in France for the past three months—truly one of the most incredible opportunities I’ve ever had.

And now, there are more pages to turn, another new chapter to begin. A French class to help me keep up the language, a new job as an editorial intern at D Magazine, dance practices to help me prepare for a Miss Texas preliminary, business meetings with my family as we seek to build something together, new volunteer opportunities, and obviously, lots and lots of baking.

When I look at all these pieces of a life that are beginning to assemble in Dallas, it starts to get a little jumbled in my mind. “Do these things all fit together?” I’ll ask myself. “Does everything I’m involved in make sense in relation to one another?”

Well, no, to be honest. I could definitely run into a few dead ends. But that’s the beauty of it all! It’s life. I have the opportunity to add things to my “experience bank” and invest in the lives of others without seeing how it’s all going to add up. I don’t have to know the end of the story to keep reading (and living!) the chapter that’s right in front of me. What freedom!

For now, my personal blog is going on a temporary leave of absence as I take on the world, AKA figure out my new role in a new office tomorrow afternoon at orientation. With a little luck, I’ll have the chance to blog over at D—and I’ve got a few other writing projects up my sleeve as well. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to share them with y’all sooner rather later, and get this blog up and running again before too long. I’ve gotten really attached to my little space at Decaf & Dessert!

To everyone who prayed me through my time in France, and before that, through my time in California: thank you, thank you, thank you. I told you before I left that I coveted your prayers, and in a show of amazing selflessness, you lifted them up on my behalf. I cannot tell you how grateful I am, or begin to recount to you the many times when I physically felt the Lord’s presence because of the network of believers lifting me up in prayer from all over the world. It truly overwhelms and humbles me: Philippians 1:3 - “I thank my God every time I remember you.” If any of you ever need prayer in return, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to invest in your life in the same way that so many of you have invested in mine.

I’ll leave y’all with this: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Here’s to new chapters, no road maps, surprises and adventures.



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