As I said on Friday, I am headed to seminary this fall. I made application decisions based on my top theological choices for such an education and am pleased to have already heard back from one of those schools with an acceptance letter.
Pleased because it means I have somewhere to go if I can get there.
That sounds like a strange thing to say. Most people might make such a decision based on where they think they could go, but that's not how faith works. Faith says you go after the best thing and trust the God who calls you to conceive of the plan. At least, that's what my faith says.
What's strange about this is that sentence above...is literally the first word that popped into my head when I got the letter. "I have somewhere to go if I can get there." And I breathed a little easier, which surprised me because I thought I'd be stressed.
That is one reaction to this type of news. Great! Now I've gotten myself into this mess, and I have to figure out how to make it work. I have to work on the details. I have to come up with a plan. I have to fret over the outcome. I have to orchestrate this thing like nobody's business to make it work out. Then we stress about things like finances. Relationships. Time. Sacrifices. Shortcomings. You start to think about all of the things that make this very good thing impossible, and at some point, it turns back on yourself.
I'm not really called, you decide. I'm not capable. I'm not strong enough, good enough, worthy enough. I'll never make it. It's not for me. Life will always hold me down. And on and on and on until you're defeated by nothing more than the thought of all you aren't. And nothing's even happened yet! Nothing's changed. There's still a place to go if you can get there. There's still time for things to work out. There's still a chance.
I don't know why, but I didn't have that defeatist reaction this time. I didn't panic about the details. Instead, I smiled. And laughed a little bit.
I think it's because this is the first thing I've done where I didn't feel like I had to be somebody else to make it happen. I wasn't worried about the right answers or proving myself because, in the past few months, nothing's been clearer to me. This is who I am. This is where I'm called. So in courage and faith, I let myself be myself.
And then I panicked. Because in the waiting, when you realize you didn't give a second thought to what a decision panel might want to hear, when you think about all the things you know about yourself that someone else doesn't, when hollow moments echo in your heart, you do worry about whether you're enough. I know I do. At the same time, I trust that as God has created and called me, He will equip me. So it simply is what it is.
Magically, it is.
As those words rang in my heart, I thought about how often that has been true of my life. How long I have wanted a place to go. I've thought about how many times I've had a place to go if I could get there...and I just couldn't get there, for whatever reason. I've thought about the things that have held me back. And it all circles back to this:
The places I could have gone but didn't are places I wouldn't have wanted to go anyway. Because they were places where I couldn't be me.
They are places where I've wanted to fit in, where I've given the right answers not because they are truth but because they are fact. They are the places that would trap me outside of myself in this figment of my anxiety that would always be awkward. Uncomfortable. And phony. Trust me - I've made it to some of those places, and it's miserable. Many more, I haven't gone. I am so thankful.
But this place, I gave myself purely. I laid my heart on the line and dared to believe that just who I am is just what this place calls for, and that this place calls for me. When it turned out that was real, I relaxed and smiled a bit. Because there's a place for me in this universe. And when I get there, I get to be me. As God created me.
I think that's what we all want, isn't it? We get restless and long for somewhere to go. We're always looking for the next place to land. We're looking toward bigger things. But what we're really looking for is somewhere to go and just be ourselves.
When you find it, let me tell you this - you don't worry so much about how you're gonna get there. I'm not worried. I can't afford it; it's going to take a lot of scholarship assistance and private donors (know anyone rich and generous?) to make this happen. I don't know how the scheduling is going to work out. I haven't decided on what commute I'm willing to endure or for how long. I don't know more than I know. But I'm not worried. I'm not panicked. I'm not stressing. And I'm not entertaining the thought that this all might fall apart.
Because I have somewhere to go if I can get there, and knowing who I get to be when I get there, I'll get there. It's happening. This is real.
Which isn't to say I don't have my doubts....