One would think you’d be easy to spot. That, from a distance, I could look out on the horizon and see you coming along all shiny and beautiful and say, “Hey! That’s a good thing on the way!”
But you’re not like that. You are so tricky. You’re just like Jesus, behind the door that’s behind the other door.
More often than not, you come disguised as something I don’t even kind of want, lurking behind a series of doors. I’m looking at you, Traveling Internationally For Work, Living With Roommates, Having A Dog, and about a hundred others.
This is not a new trend. This was also the case when I decided on a college and decided on a job after college. It was the case with running and yoga and, taking it way back to the early years of this dysfunction, dancing. It was the same with learning to like carrots. And learning to like salmon. And learning to like olives, for the love of all things.
Almost all of you, Best Parts Of My Life, are things that, at the outset, I vehemently opposed. I couldn’t have wanted you less. The volume of tears I cried over you could fill a tiny river or two.
And yet, seemingly inevitably, you ended up becoming some of the most treasured parts of my life. I don’t understand it.
But, at 30, I hope I’m wiser than I was at 18 when I cried for four consecutive hours on the drive from Burnt Hills to Rochester for my college orientation. I’m learning there is so much truth in these thoughts from Shauna Niequist:
“Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard. It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we’ve barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and different emotional territories and different ways of living. It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control. Life with God is a dancing dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do. And with the surprises comes great hope.”
And therein lies the problem: you are never a familiar old thing I’m already used to. You are always a surprising new thing I’ve never tried before.
It’s not that I don’t like change. It’s that I fear change before it happens. So when I have an option for change or not change, I will usually choose not change. And yet, all of you were born out of change. Once I got to know you, I didn’t fear you anymore. I loved you.
It makes me wonder how many other good things I’m missing out on because of fear.
I’m writing this letter to you as a reminder to myself to choose you more often and with less resistance. When change is looming, I’d like history to be my teacher with all of you standing witness. Because change is the tide that washes the best parts of life to shore. Without the natural ebb and flow of the waves, the water grows stagnant and dies.
So too with you and I and the changes that bring us both to life.