I am having one of those out-of-body experiences that comes when too many good things happen in a row and you just float up outside yourself in total disbelief to see where the hold-up is down the road. I mean, there’s gotta be a hold up, right?
In life, things pretty much seem to flow like this: happy, sunny, warm, windows down, driving to work, BAM hit by a semi.
You can imagine how terrified I am to say, then, in the teeniest voice possible: I got into grad school. Just like that.
CFI and the BGC approved my Belize project proposal 100% and I leave in January to begin facilitating programs in 3 village schools. I’ll get back just in time to find housing and begin orientation.
Here’s another something.
Two hours ago, my mom and I made contact with my long-lost great-uncle in Marseille, France. We’ve been trying to get a hold of him for months because tomorrow I leave for Europe, and one of the only reasons I’ve ever wanted to go to Europe was to find Mr. Gay, to see the house where my Aunt lived, to walk through the little Mediterranean town she walked through and say, “Bonjour!” to some lady selling flowers or French baguettes on the street. In my blood, I want to capture that piece of her life and breathe it in slowly. He was so excited, and my mom was so happy, and I just typed away for 40 minutes on my Macbook translator while they talked. Everything was just perfect. The only things missing were Candy and Jean Louis, who I am sure were watching and laughing and sending us hugs from heaven big enough to span both continents.
What I have figured out in these last few months, because in my heart of hearts I am entirely optimistic and have never really been able to make cynicism stick, is that God loves me. And that I can trust Him.
I remember sitting on the sidewalk in Belize 2 days after I fell off the desk not wanting to tell anyone how badly my leg hurt—really feeling silly that I had mentally pushed myself to this level—and saying to God: look, my leg hurts and I probably shouldn’t walk around today, so I need you to make this really obvious to the rest of the team or just take the pain away. I knew it was stupid and that I should have just told someone, but for some reason God indulged.
By the end of the day, my entire ankle was black and blue, swollen right out of my shoe, and we immediately iced and elevated. Until that day, I couldn’t have told you the last time I knew in my heart God was living and active in my stupid little day-to-day life. Or that He was my friend. But He sat beside me for a couple of hours in the form of an 8 year old, and I cried that night before bed because I asked Him to take care of me and He did. Just like that.
The thing is, last fall I applied to a bunch of grad schools for writing and I didn’t get in. I was upset, but only in that kid-crying-in-the-grocery-store way because this little corner of my heart knew that God had dinner on at home and writing school was like a candy bar in the check-out line—good, but not the right time. I felt it from the first application on, but for some reason it was really important for me to finish out the task, to give it a whole-hearted try or else the rest of my life I’d have wondered what it might have been like to get an MFA in creative writing.
I think God lets us fool around with our own lives however long we want because he made us, and he gave us this little thing called ambition, and if I’d had it in my mind to join a horse and pony show, I think He’d have let me give that a try, too. He made us knowing we might totally screw everything up.
To Him, we are probably like toddlers trying to put our clothes on backwards and inside-out. He watches us fumble, sighs, taps His foot, folds his arms and waits some more until we are stark naked and thoroughly frustrated. He does not laugh and roll His eyes and walk away, which is what I would probably do and, consequently, what I assumed He would do. Instead, I think He probably crouches down, picks up our clothes (or grad school applications, or Belize proposals, or whatever) and helps us put them on the right way.
I don’t know why He does that. Or why, of all the millions of people on the planet, of all the planets in the milky way, of all the milky ways in the galaxy, of all the galaxies in the universe, He would have looked at my pitiful little ankle, my super-low pain tolerance and lack of assertion, and said, “Okay, I can help you out. And while I’m working on it, here’s an 8 year-old to keep you company.”
I think I’m thankful He lets us mill around in all the wrong places. It helps us recognize and appreciate how perfect and protected we are in the right place. And it means that no matter what lies ahead, I am free to be happy and warm, to roll the windows down and stick my hand out, and even to sing a little.
Because I trust that if a semi comes, God will break my seatback.