I turned 26 years old a few days ago. My favorite moment of celebration was on a cliff overlooking the ocean with some really rad people. We enjoyed a delicious meal, drank margaritas, flew a drone around, and caught up on life.
I remember when the thought of being 18 sounded old. I remember being 18 and then thinking that I wanted to get married by 25 at the latest. Now that I’m 26 I’ve got one thing figured out for sure– that I’ve got absolutely nothing figured out and that I couldn’t be in a better possible spot than that.
In a world where we have more questions than answers, we have the most space for faith. We have the most opportunity to lean into a God who isn’t here to serve our human desire to figure everything out but who is here to let us spend as much time as we need figuring out that we need Him. The sweetness of the grace that seeps through the cracks of our humanity is overwhelming– and as I turn toward the latter half of my 20’s I’m happy to spend more time resting in grace than telling everyone all the things that I know. God (and a lot of you) know that I’ve spent enough time doing that.
Here are some ideas I’ve been working through recently…
I subconsciously keep a nasty diary of people’s wrongdoings and I’ve had a really hard time loving a lot of people because of that. I spent a good number of years shielding myself from the nasty reality of expectations. Then I spent some years facing that reality head on and not dealing with it very well. Now, I’m recovering, and like everything in life, finding balance. Part of the process of recovery has been recognizing that, without thinking about it, I do a damn good job of keeping track of how I’m treated. Then, also without thinking about it, I respond with love (or not) as I see fit, based on what the diary says about any given person. Goodness gracious, we’re not taught to love like that. I’m learning to see this behavior in myself, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it.
What on earth are we supposed to do with expectations anyway? When I was working at a church, our pastor did a series on marriage about expectations. The big idea was: expectations are bad, don’t have them. This idea was life changing from the time I left that sermon until later that day when a friend cancelled our dinner plans and I was disappointed (and felt unloved!). Was I supposed to just pretend like I didn’t expect my friend to show up for dinner? I understand that expectations are a tension to manage like everything else (read: we aren’t getting rid of them, so we gotta deal with them somehow), but I’m really struggling with what the heck we’re supposed to do with them. If you’ve got ideas, I’m so open to that conversation.
I am an enneagram seven, which is just a fancy way of saying, I don’t deal with emotional pain very well and this fact about me can hurt the people I love the most. If you haven’t studied enneagram, take a few minutes sometime and look it up. It’s changed my life and has radicalized the way my greater community interacts with and loves one another. One thing I learned from enneagram, is that I am allergic to pain. I hate it. I set my life up so that I never have to deal with it. Until recently, I’ve mostly survived in this way of being for most of the last decade. Pressing into it is not easy– because it freakin hurts.
How are we supposed to balance long term, long distance friendships alongside more recent, close distance community? The people that know me best are the people that have known me the longest. I absolutely love my community in OB– they’re rad, and all of us are working hard to embrace the freshness of community and all that entails. So in the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to include my lifelong best friends in LA, OC, and around the world in a space where my local community will continue to take center stage.
Speaking of community, community takes so much patience. I’m in a season of life where I’m choosing to press into a covenant community faith expression and all of us in the community are pressing into this at the same time, for the first time. As it turns out, the type of community my heart desires doesn’t happen overnight. Figuring out how to set my eyes ahead in patience and live into that each day has been quite the adventure. I’m thankful for the growth we’ve seen in this past year, and I’ve learned so much about what it means to hold space for community to grow– it’s so much less about doing than it is about just being.
It’s okay to run my faith into the ground and test my beliefs against scripture, context, and new wisdom– in fact, if we’re not doing that, we’re not giving God, and each other, the best faith we can. I’ve been unpacking more religious indoctrination in my heart lately than I ever knew existed. I’m questioning ways of being that I never thought I would question. I was scared to let go of it all because– what if I came back with nothing left. Ah, but I do believe in the God of the universe, and what is a faith if it’s not alive and growing and reflecting and responding to a God that, in His very nature, can hold both doubt and worship in the same moment.
Significant other-ship is a fantastic adventure. As of this writing, I’m 139 days into that adventure. Some of you know that I had not officially ‘dated’ anyone since 2009. Then Katrina came along and, without knowing it, knocked a brick through my relational wall. Our story deserves a post unto itself, but for now– a quick reflection on what that journey has been like.
Katrina is deeply caring, discerning, giving, loving, witty, selfless, and sacrificing. She’s hilarious and adorable. She’s had nothing but absolute patience with my insanity and shenanigans– and beyond that, embraces the adventure of them along the way. At the same time, she’s welcomed me into her story, her family, and her walk as a follower of Jesus. I can literally only pray that, by God’s grace, I would embrace that invitation well.
So much of who Katrina is, I never knew that I needed in a partner in life– I love her dearly and I’m thankful for the way all of you have received her into our greater family.
One of my favorite proverbs comes from chapter 30 and says:
There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman.
I share the sentiment of this writer. It’s too amazing for me, and I don’t understand it.
At the end of each day, I continue to thank God for the gift of life. From dust we came and to dust we shall return, but while we’re in these moments– let’s live into each one deeply.