We were in the car last night, following time spent with our community group, when I said the words. They were words I had thought and prayed over. Words that I felt the weight of earlier in the day. But I had yet to speak them aloud or to admit the defeat I felt.
I had mentioned how I was struggling. I had previously mentioned how I had felt stuck in everything. But there was more.
"I feel like every door is being slammed in my face."
He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. Because I knew that he understood. He had been there before, and I had stood by him, helping him and offering whatever support I could.
I went onto to explain that it literally felt like every door. Volunteering. Figuring out what career path I want. Exercise. Being healthy. And more. It was everything.
My statement led to a further discussion. Because we both aren't sure of where we are called to work or to give of our time. Sometimes I think I know but then something (or several somethings) happen, and I am thrown back into not knowing.
He told me that he wants to feel called to climb the corporate ladder but that he doesn't. And I feel the same way. I want to feel called to live a life that is considered normal. Because that is safe and it is easy. It fits into a plan that other people can understand. It follows a timeline that makes sense.
But he doesn't feel called to climb the corporate ladder. And I don't feel called to fit into a mold someone else has created. Admitting those things are, at least to me, just as scary as admitting that I feel like every door is closing in my face.
I still feel that way this morning. There was no miracle overnight. Nothing happened to completely open every door I want to have open.
I know that there is a reason for every door being closed. I know that it is good for me to be broken of my need to plan and think that only my plans are the best. And I also can somewhat grasp the fact that my life is not meant to follow a path that society sees as normal. But that doesn't make it easy.
All of this swirled in my mind this morning as I drove through one of the more affluent historical areas of town. The houses are ones we love and dream of one day owning. They are cared for with pedicured lawns. Inside I imagine there are clean wood floors and walls without cracks running from top to bottom.
Suddenly it hit me. Or maybe it wasn't so suddenly.
My life is not to be measured in the way I want it to be measured. I am not to compare my career and the steps I take with the career and the steps someone else takes. God has a plan, and His plan might not line up with what the world considers as success. But it is His plan, and I have to follow His plan.
Having a realization of any sort is scary but it requires a response. I can respond by being faithful and stepping into His plan. Or I can respond by ignoring the realization and continuing on the path I am creating.
I saw a tweet earlier today that read "God has called YOU. Focus on HIM. Not on what everyone else is doing."
I know my response to both the realization and to the tweet needs to be to listen. And then to focus on Him and on what He is calling me to. It's what I want my response to be. I just don't know how to quiet the sound of culture, the sound of my own mind, the desires of my flesh, the constant comparisons that are hurled toward me.
Maybe it starts with accepting the slammed doors. Or maybe it starts with not worrying. Or maybe it starts with sitting in silence (also something I struggle with doing). Or maybe it is supposed to just start. With no rhyme or reason. No planning. Just a deep breath in through my nose and out of my mouth. Tension released. Eyes closed for a moment. And then a timid step forward. Or maybe it's supposed to be a brave step forward with my eyes open and hands balled at my sides.
The first step is always the hardest. And each time I think I am past the first step, it comes back. There is always a new first step to be taken. Sometimes it's the same new first step over and over again.
I thought through all of this as I drive the thirty minute stretch of I-35 from my house to my office. And just as it happened last night, I felt stuck. With every door slammed in my face. And I found it hard to know what to do. Thoughts of how to start this new life of living for Him and not for me or the world and what my first step would need to be.
My life is so often busy. And so full of stress. I think most people's lives are. And the busyness and stress pulls all of us down. Tears us apart. Makes it almost impossible to do anything but live for the moment and live life in a way that makes sense to others.
I wanted to give into it during that thirty minute drive. To forget everything I had felt earlier. To once again toss aside the notion of living for something so much bigger than my short time of earth. And then I took one deep breath followed by another deep breath and then another. Until finally, my head was clear and my heart rate normal again.
Life is not meant to be lived rushing from one moment to another. It is also not meant to be lived for other people. It's something to enjoy and it's something that should reflect love.
So I am taking the first step. Eyes open. Hands open. Breathing in deeply. Letting go of my expectations and comparisons again. And hoping that there will be no falling back. But knowing that there is a God who loves me enough to support me and push me forward (again) if I do fall back.
(title from "all i have" by mat kearney)