When I was a kid, I didn’t think too hard about the future. I loved my home, my family, my hobbies, and trusted things would play out similar to my parents. My plan was simple. And pretty “normal.”
Graduate, go to college, fall in love, get married, be a mom.
I remember the clearest dream was, ironically, being a mom and I didn’t really see anything past it.
When it came time to move from “Graduate” to the first “comma” in my plan, I realized that “going to college” meant picking a major, moving away, having some idea of your career path, and sticking your neck out there to get a job in the real world.
There was nothing clear about this next step.
What I discovered in that hazy second comma – the next 6 years of my life – proved to be the most formative and empowering lessons I still hang onto. That unsung lapse of time between “go to college” and “the next step” is more imperative than you realize. Here are 5 important lessons I learned from it:
1. “Adventure is out there!”
This is Ellie’s motto in the Pixar film “Up.” She dreams of traveling to Venezuela to explore. Though she never actually gets there, that motivation and zeal for life motivates her to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. She sees everyday life like it’s an adventure – because it is. It’s easy to capture this mentality in your twenties when the world is yours for the taking. Go out and explore! See what you can discover! I’m so incredibly glad that I did. Now I’m taking that mentality into each new stage of life.
2. You can’t get through life without the people.
To all my friends who stuck with me during my final semester of college – you all deserve an award! The laughs, advice, and camaraderie kept me sane in the midst of a lot of changes. Those friends taught me the value of community and had me resolved to keep myself in it no matter where life put me.
3. The next step you take isn’t the final decision.
Deciding on your career path feels like the last and most final decision of your life. But since graduating and job searching, I realize it’s not. People change their careers and jobs multiple times throughout their life. You’re not going to go wrong by either taking a job that isn’t your favorite or making that hard move for your dream opportunity. A year will fly by, then two, and you’ll find yourself with more experience, new connections, and, potentially, more ideas. If you’re a afraid of getting stuck or regretting a move – don’t be. The thing you’ll regret is not taking a risk here and there to see what could come of it and what you could learn.
4. Waiting isn’t a bad thing.
I spent a lot of time running like a chicken with its head cut off during college. When college ended, life came to a screeching halt. I wound up back at my parents and searching for a job. This seemed like a big negative at the time, but when life got going again and I had to leave, I realized all of the amazing opportunities, people, ideas, and rest my soul had come in contact with. I was almost sad to leave! If you find yourself waiting, don’t just sit there. Enjoy making the most of it and finding what God has for you right here.
5. Delight yourself in the Lord
I remember walking down the street next to my parents house thinking that if I lost the things I loved the most, life would never be as bright. Then Proverbs slapped me in the face: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To this day, when life burdens me with the tragic or mundane, I remind myself to look straight into the eyes of the Lord and find my eternal delight from Him. Life is worth living with Him by your side.
What now? You could say I’ve moved past the second comma and into the “fall in love” phase of my plan, but even so, I don’t know what the future holds. Plans change. Dreams change. Sometimes dreams come back. Instead of seeing my life as a series of linear, good ideas, I see it as being with Jesus and serving Him in the midst of any season or place.
Your story may look completely different than you planned it. Just know that no matter your story, God wants to teach you something – even if you’re in the middle of that “comma” you would have liked to skip over.
Things seldom look how you thought they would. They do look like God holding your hand as you take a deep breath and jump into each little adventure that comes your way.
Living life with Jesus is worth the risk of surrendering what you think will happen.