One of my favorite things about writing is how the words often turn out quite differently than I anticipated. In the process of putting words on paper a computer screen, I’m able to create something new out of the shards and fragments of my days, the confusing thoughts, the unexpected joys. So, here’s to hoping you discover something about yourself along the way too…
One of the best – and, to be perfectly frank, worst – things about getting older is realizing that you are responsible for…well, pretty much everything. Bills, finding and keeping a job, feeding yourself. Okay, that last one can be pretty great.
On the positive side, you’re also responsible for deciding what you want to do with your time. For me, that’s brought so much freedom. I can now decide what kind of music I want to listen to, food I want to eat, books I want to read, people I want to surround myself with, and so on without (much) fear of judgment. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t still worry a bit about what other people think of me, but that pressure has greatly dissipated over the years. Even since first moving to San Francisco in 2010, I experience less of the fear of missing out that can really suck the joy out of life. When you’re constantly worried about a better experience, how can you possibly enjoy where you are?
As I’ve learned to be more content with my present circumstances – whatever those may be – I’ve learned to appreciate my friend time. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what I want most: quality time with a small group of good good people. “My pack,” as a dear friend’s mom would say.
But even when you know this is what you want, it can be tough to find in adult life. Particularly in big cities. While walking through Noe Valley yesterday, I overheard a girl saying to a friend on the phone, “I miss those days in New York when we all just got together throughout the week. I just don’t have a crew here. But then again, I might not have that if I were back in New York anyway.”
I feel your pain.
San Francisco is such a transient city. People move in and out in a continuous cycle, which means it can feel like you’re constantly making new friends. Thankfully, I’m grateful for the gift of sweet friendships that have survived (and thrived) despite the distance or shifting priorities that marriages and moves inevitably require. This has required intentionality. And that’s why it’s so important to know what I want, what my heart most desires, what I find to be deeply satisfying – my own personal brand of cool.
My friend time typically looks like some combination of eating, exploring, laughing, sitting, talking, and praying. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing exactly. Whether we’re sharing dinner at one of our homes apartments or catching up over cocktails, we’re just glad to be together. And that’s the purpose of friendship, isn’t it? Sharing life with people who “get” you. These are the friends that “stick closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
But what do you do when you don’t know what you want?
That I understand as well. Because even though I am learning so much more about myself, this world, and how to love people better every day, I still struggle with making decisions and “owning” them. That worry mostly stems from whether I’m making “the best” decision possible, and really, that’s rooted in selfishness. It’s like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We’re back to the original sin here, people. Adam and Eve were so obsessed with perfection, with having the best, with knowing everything – they wanted to be God. And that’s where I need to acknowledge that I am not God, and that even while I’m settling more into this skin and soul that God has given me, he still knows what’s best.
Yoga this week was a lesson in letting go of the need to make perfect decisions. Our usual instructor was out, and the substitute was obsessed with “setting an intention” and “reconnecting with our purpose” throughout the practice that day. Intention and purpose are very good things, don’t get me wrong. But in that hour on the mat, I became so consumed with questions like, “Am I being purposeful enough?” “Do I have enough intention at work?” “What if I’m not seeking big enough things?” It was completely counter-productive. And in the final resting pose of Shavasana, I heard God say so clearly to me, “Your purpose is to submit. Just submit.”
In that moment of clarity, I felt nothing but gratitude for the fact that I get to submit to someone who knows what’s best for me and, even better, is actively working to make that happen in my life. Sometimes what’s best isn’t what appears to be most fun or attractive or cool. But a little – or a lot – farther down the path, I always come to realize that it’s absolutely best.
In that posture of submission – Shavasana – I can rest and receive. I am filled with his love which overflows in an offering to him. For his glory, for the love of others, and for life. Abundantly.
So, what’s your purpose, your intention? What are you being called to submit? I’d love to know. Feel free to share in the comments below.