I traveled coast to coast this October. One weekend I was in Washington, D.C., and the next I was in San Francisco, both times to visit some of my dearest friends. My people. Hilarious, spunky, driven, passionate women I never dreamed I would meet through work, but I’ve somehow managed to hit the coworker jackpot on a regular basis.
I walked and talked, ate and talked, curled-up-in-blankets-giggling and talked to my friends about their lives and marveled at how paths diverge, leading to such different stories. Julianne and Danielle both work at publications in New York City. Amanda works at the Washington Post. Lesley works at a nonprofit in San Francisco. And I am here, back home (again) in Indiana.
If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would be in 2015, I would have in no way, shape, or form described my current life. I don’t know what I would have said, but I think I would have named a place that at least sounds slightly more exciting, adventurous, and further from familiarity than Indianapolis. I definitely wouldn’t have had graphic design on my radar. 31 and single? Probably not. But little did I know 10 years ago that a pattern would emerge in terms of my expectations.
Most every time I’ve set out on a new adventure, God has rerouted me, reminding me that His plans are better than mine. So annoying, right? JUST LET ME LIVE. It’s taken a decade to absorb this particular brand of humility, admitting that I literally have no idea what tomorrow will hold and that there’s a significant chance I’ll end up back where I started.
The stops and starts of my life have often made me wonder if I’m behind. When there are hundreds of reasons to compare myself to my peers, I tend to forget that those stops and starts are uniquely mine and are just as important and meaningful as the most static, fluid timeline, full of sanity and security. But they are.
The line graph of my life is jagged at best, but in 2015 I stumbled upon something that has eluded me for years. It’s a feeling I can only describe as contentment. With where I am physically. With my career. With living near my family, building my “home team.” I’m still settling into it. I’m slightly suspicious of it. But I’m thankful for it, nonetheless.
When I returned home from my October travels, after visiting my friends in far-off places, I realized I’m finally not trying to change — or, more accurately, escape — my current circumstances. And as the comfort I’ve found in my here-and-now continues to settle in, I can feel bits of the weight I’ve carried around for years fall from my shoulders and hit the ground hard. Good riddance.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t desire forward motion. I do! I failed at a lot of things this year. A LOT.
I gave up on finding a church and largely avoided engaging in community out of pure laziness + emotional exhaustion.
I gained back all the weight (and then some) that I lost in the spring.
I spent much more time alone watching Netflix than I’m proud of.
And the list goes on (and on and on and on). But I’m trying hard to give myself grace and not let those failures invalidate the beauty that shines brightly through the cracks in my year.
There are still times when I feel behind. Little moments when I get the urge to move away and start over, resuming my search for greener grass. There are still times when I wonder if I will ever find love. But when I look back on 2015, I can clearly see all of those battles and doubts covered with indescribable grace and peace — anchors that have kept me where I am, teaching me that perseverance can give way to contentment. There is beauty in staying. Who knew?
God may decide to reroute me again tomorrow. My list of “I never thought I’d end up here” stories may grow another mile longer. I may find myself in a slightly more exciting, adventurous place, further from familiarity, like my friends in New York, Washington D.C, San Francisco, and beyond. But for now, I’m resting in the knowledge that my God has led me to this city / career / house / ministry / friendship / chance encounter / church (coming soon!).
He is in the starts and stops and jagged lines. He is faithful. And in that, I am content.