be still

You often hear people say that life is a funny thing. And it is. It's a wonderfully confusing and funny thing. I've been composing my thoughts on this post for awhile, but I suppose it's time to finally put pen to paper, so to speak, and share why it is I've entitled this blog "Be Still." 

Until midway through college, I always had a plan for my life: College > Med School > Join a practice > Start a family > Strike a balance of work and family > Survive > Retire. And this plan had been intact for a very long time, so much so that it included a back-up plan of majoring in bioengineering, just in case plan A didn't work out (got that? just in case).

The first kink to my plan came one summer when I was shadowing all the different medical specialties and realized that none of them fit me. AHHHH whatdoIdonow??? Have no fear, almost every doctor I shadowed presented me with a new plan: dental school. And it seemed just perfect: great for women, more manageable hours, actually be a part of the family you helped create. Okay, great: new plan A. 

And the modified plan A was going well until it came time for my application to be turned in senior year, and I had just one question left to answer: why do you want to be a dentist? That's a good question... to which I had no answer. I mean, yes, I could have fibbed it, but I was more plagued with the idea that I had no idea why I wanted to pursue this path.

So, my boyfriend at the time suggested a piece of advice that I had always shied away from, nay, slammed the door on: why not take a year off after college to figure out my life plans?

And so it came to pass that I jumped off of my plan A (head first it seemed like). It took me about a week to realize that I had always treated my life like the opening scene of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I had placed myself on a conveyer belt that had already decided all of my life's fate from its start: at metre 152 I would enter university where I would major in biological engineering, at 321 I would study my entire life away in a library (good ole Mitchell Memorial!) so as to maintain my good marks, at 467 I would graduate and attend a post graduate program, at 683 I would somehow find a person who could put up with my eccentricities and manage to date him while slaving away at my doctorate, at 894 I would finish up my residency, and finally, at metre 1000 I would complete my goal & get a job, get married, and begin my life. Be strong, be independent, be confident. And the sad part is that all along the way I know I would have channeled the Director in that scene by saying "charming, charming" the whole time. 

So I kicked myself off the conveyer belt of Hatcheries & Conditioning, and I let life go on. And things I would never have predicted happened. That boyfriend proposed to me, me, the girl who everyone else counted on not getting married until she was 30 (including the girl herself). I graduated & moved back home (definitely was not in the picture) to plan a wedding. I got married & moved to a place 13 hours away from the only city I've ever called home. And I still don't have a clue what I want to be when I grow up. Life is a curiously funny thing. 

But all those things that happened because I jumped ship have been a wonderful blessing. The marriage thing is an obvious one, but even moving home made my life better. I got the opportunity to really appreciate & love being with my parents, aka the roomies. It was the first time that I wasn't a preoccupied student taking up space in their house, but rather a (dare I say it?) peer that saw them for the caring people that they are. And it was probably the first time that I realized all the pressure I felt in college came from a central location: little ole me. 

So here I am admitting to you that I don't know where I'm going in life. For a girl who always had a plan growing up, it takes a lot to admit that. I've always had such pride in my progress & my plan, but boy, can that pride be such a hindrance. It has taken me many months to break that down and realize that it's okay that I don't know. That the question mark hovering over my head is more of a friend than a foe, & that faith (and patience in that faith) is the only thing that will get me through this period of self doubt & unrest. 

One night during one of my all night study sessions, I stumbled along Psalm 46 which reminds us that though the world may be a destructive place, God is always there. We just have to stop & listen:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. {Selah}

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. {Selah}

Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bows and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. {Selah}

Reading that psalm made me realize that my little plan for myself never allowed me to rely on my faith. What a worldly human I can be! I mean I know that God finds me funny in the way that I'm clever & weird, but he must have had a field day when I realized that my plan was so insignificant compared to His. I know I'm hilarious, Yahweh, keep on chuckling up there! 

And since that sleepless night, Psalm 46:10 has become something of battle cry for me. Every time I start to get down on myself, I recite those comforting words. Sometimes things get so drastic that I even write a small 46:10 on my hand so that I'll see it constantly. The answer will come. One day. Because my God has a plan for me, and always has. It included me falling metaphorically on my face, so that I could see His world that I was missing. His plan. 

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

So I'm being still. And waiting.