Two weeks. That’s a long time, isn’t it? And yet I know it isn’t, and the two weeks will fly by. Funny, because last week it felt like I have the whole month ahead and now—two weeks.
Time is weird. My coworkers and I would joke about how time running self-checkout took three times as long as being on register. (Seriously, self-checkout is so boring.) Time, and the words we use to describe it, and the different images and feelings people associate with it, fascinate me. But now it is real, and personal, and it webs my ribs together with invisible thread so that it is hard to breathe.
Can you promise that I will come back?
No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
I can’t escape the feeling that everything is about to change. Irrevocably. A gate slammed shut behind me through which I will look back, maybe wistfully, but never able to enter again. Further up and further in feels a little frightening now. And yet, at the same time, there’s also the fear that I will fall back, that I won’t be able to scale the cliff ahead and I will smash through the gate and it will hurt and I will never be able to step past it.
But fear—this restless, anxious, wordless sham of a thunderstorm hovering over my soul but never actually breaking because it isn’t real—fear like that lies.
And I can’t, I won’t, let this fear steal the wondrous fact that my dreams are coming true. Right here, before my eyes, what I’ve wanted for years, this thing I gave up and said He could take, He has given it back.
I forget that He is the one holding the gate open, He is the one paving the path ahead, carefully carving footholds into the cliff. Remember, O my soul, the hands that have held you. As you step through the gate come out the door, remember—it may be a dangerous business, but underneath are the everlasting arms that have carried you like a man carries his son until you came to this place.
I said I didn’t want to live a safe life, and I still don’t. When it comes down to it, I’m glad I won’t come back the same.
Two weeks. People ask me how I’m feeling, and my honest answer every time is excited. I can’t stop the big stupid grin on my face when I say that. Really, I feel like I should be more afraid. And there is, of course, that anxiety, that phony thunderstorm rattling my bones. It’s all the little details and the unknowns and the belated realization of the beauties of this season that form the cloud cover. But mostly, my soul is experiencing clear skies because of a bright, bright sun and a high wind calling me forward, calling me to run and dance because there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice and I think I am entering a time of rejoicing.
No, I know I’m entering a time of rejoicing. Yes, there is still pain. Maybe there’ll always be that undertow—but I know now that I do not need to be afraid of being carried out to sea, that in the deeps I find Him, the same one whom it’s easy to believe in when I am safe on shore.
Two weeks till the next adventure. I want to try to savor the ending of this one, which is a whole separate blog post. But maybe savoring right now it means not trying to fit it into words or lessons. It’ll come, it’ll come, and all is grace.
Mostly, I want to let myself rejoice. Funny, that that is something I have to let myself do. But rejoicing can be scary. In fact, I think rejoicing can be one of the hardest things to do, even when circumstances are good. Maybe even especially then. Because rejoicing doesn’t mean acknowledging that things are going the way you want—it means staking your life on the character of God, his goodness and his grace and His thoughts that are higher than ours. Regardless of how things are going, there are always the voices that whisper lies about him. Right now, I hear a murmur—it won’t be as good as you think. He won’t give you something that good. He isn’t that good.
No. Rejoice, and again I say rejoice. I’ve been reading through the New Testament this summer with my class from church. It’s been a whirlwind, my head stuffed full of theology, most of which is probably going over my head, but it’s been wonderful to notice themes that keep recurring. One of them is joy.
Glad tidings of great joy, the angels tell the shepherds. Peter can’t get enough of joy: you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
To rejoice is an act of courage. So, whether your dreams are coming true and that that makes you both tremble and split your face with a smile—or your dreams are tottering just out of reach, still, still—or you don’t even know what your dreams are in this general grayness—
So, friends, in two weeks I head off to school. For those who have been here a while, you know that this is something I’ve wanted and had to delay longer than I expected and now it’s here, and I’m so excited and thankful and kind of in shock. I’ll probably post again before I go, but after that, I can’t make any promises. My arms are still bothering me, and although I’ve been able to figure out a way to make school work with that, I’m not sure how much I’ll have left over for here. At the very latest, I’ll probably pop on at Christmas but I hope to share more quotes and poetry and musings before then too. We’ll see. I love you all, and thank you for journeying with me. Let me know what you’re dreaming & rejoicing in & what God’s been doing lately in you.
This story begins and ends with joy.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”