So Taylor Swift won Artist of the DECADE last night. Meanwhile I am on my bed with a towel drying my hair and applying face cream to my acne. How has your day been? Actually, no. How’s your DECADE been. LOL.
Crazy that we’re coming to a close on a decade. I am shook.
Taylor Swift winning artist of the decade is a pretty huge accomplishment. I am sure you wonder whether or not you’ll be as monumental as she is. The short answer response to the title of this letter is “Lol relax you’re fine!” …. just kidding (actually not kidding) but no seriously the answer is “you’re doing better than you think.”
I graduated college with a Religious Studies degree. Religious studies. I may as well have gotten a certificate that says, “she read a lot of books on religion and God.” I was one of two majors at a small university and people had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. I vividly remember going to my grandfathers house every month for those four years and he asking me if I changed my major yet.
“What are you going to do with that?” was his question –everyone’s question– and I just accepted that for what it was. It be like that sometimes, ya know?
I can laugh now but in the moment I felt beyond misunderstood and confused. I was going to change my major because people failed to recognize that a huge part of my identity involved honoring God, being philosophical, and working to build up the legacy Jesus left us. It was something to question — I was someone to question. If I had changed my major it was synonymous to changing a huge part of my entire being.
I am sure Taylor Swift got beef when she told people she wanted to be a performer (look at her now you haters)
I got a part time job in ministry before I graduated. I was doing exactly what I dreamed of doing post graduation. I then left that to run ministry to an all girls private catholic academy. Funny because ministering to young girls was always my deepest desire and I didn’t have to ask God to grant it… He just did. Needless to say, many people my age with “real degrees” are still jobless. The laugh-out-loud religious studies degree “beat out” the business degrees. And I don’t mean that harshly, I mean it as a super confusing reality. That statement SHOULD make us turn our head because society has shown us that religious studies degrees and careers in ministry are not common and certainly not idealistic.
Why is it that people perceive certain careers superior to others?
I chat with many people of all ages on the regular. Between teaching in the classroom and in the gym a lot of conversations happen. For many people, in their effort to become something — to BE someone — I hear these phrases a lot;
“Let me go to the best school/company/organization”
“I need to get THIS degree to be somebody.”
”if I don’t establish a successful career by 25, I’m nothing.”
Listen, I know that you’re the governor, or whatever but the problem in these (negative) thought patterns is that your identity is reduced to the reputation that a school/company/organization you idolize has.
Your personality… your unrepeatable person hood… is not a school/company/organization. There’s so much more to who humans are at their core. You are a living, breathing lover. You are holy ground. What each person needs (I’d even argue; WHAT WE WANT) gets overlooked when we reduce our being to a place or status.
Had I succumbed to the weird stares and comments I got about my major I would have settled for a mundane job. Had I let people’s opinions on my goals outweigh the strong desires on my heart I would have never experienced the thrill of working hard and getting to a place I dreamed of being.
The deepest desires of ones heart gets lost in the snap of a finger.
And this is not OK. I believe THIS is why you feel like you “don’t have your life together.”
Because honestly, I’m at a point where I’d rather spend a whole life experiencing a deep, insatiable, hallowed longing for things that are true, real, authentic, and beautiful than to have tangible things less than those longings.
Sure my young energy has been advised to maturely make moves to have a steady income and establish great grounds for a successful future. Of course I desire stability and longevity in life. I can’t be a free spirit my whole life, boo. I know that and there’s wisdom to that, but I’ve seen the hearts of people’s passions, desires, and dreams fall by the wayside because life numbs them. People become afraid to dream. That’s the difference between striving and settling.
Striving for a deeper purpose, while working at Starbucks is OK. Working at Starbucks to get an income to open the restaurant of your dreams is OK. But being at Starbucks because you have no idea what you want is kinda upsetting. Ya feel?
The people who betray themselves from their dream job, school, or relationship and think (emphasis on THINK) “I’m at the end and there’s nothing left!” are the ones who don’t have their life together.
If the resurrection of Jesus… that thing where he actually rose from life’s most “permanent” end: death, is real than life cannot be a permanent end. If only we all saw this. Accepted this. Wanted this. To believe in a God who reversed death to prove hope to us…? The audacity!
What happens though, little by little, small decision after small decision, desires are pushed away and dreams fade in time. Maybe that’s why we don’t invite God into our lives because if He is as good as He says He is than we can’t dream of having Him because we can’t even dream a normal dream. (Did that make sense) ???
It happened most vividly for me when I was dating. On two separate occasions I felt my heart, little by little, lose the beautiful me I knew existed before those relationships did. I listened to two guys promise me happiness and felt nothing inside when they did. I knew the happier me existed without them but would never admit it. Not because they were bad people, but because I had a fire in me that lost it’s flame and that’s not worth losing.
I became so consumed in the status, the idea, the praise of being in a relationship that once the “high” of all that died off, so did I. I let something else get in the way and deaden the desire for life and zeal and love that I had deep down.
Sometimes it can be for jobs, sometimes it can be for relationships, other times it’s just misunderstanding in a lot of personal suffering. Sometimes the person you’re intimately involved with halts your growth as an individual like it did for me. I don’t know what it is for you, but I know I don’t want it for you.
Another example, (and if you haven’t noticed I am staying on the theme of relationships cause I love romantic love) if you’ve seen 27 Dresses 👗you know that Kevin, played by the striking James Marsden, is a hopeless romantic at heart but looses his belief in finding great romance when he is left at the altar by a former fiancé. Instead of being the chivalrous hopeless romantic we all expect him to be he is cunning and mysterious, trying not to let anyone in his heart.
I can’t imagine a person ignoring the longings in their heart. I’ve always been a go-getter. Sure I had to snap-back and re-find myself after breakups and hurts, but it was never in me to be less than who I was.
I have to ask you the same question Jesus asked,
“What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)
Maybe it is for your significant other to love you more and engage you more lovingly.
Maybe it is a job, a new job, or a new degree.
Maybe it’s time to pick the guitar back up and start playing again.
Maybe you want to lose a few pounds.
A family? A baby?
Maybe it’s a sense of understanding in a difficult time.
Be honest and I dare you to tell Jesus about it.
I have to admit I don’t really like Taylor Swift all that much but she is crucial to my point in this letter. Of course I had to use THE line from All Too Well, too. Picture her sleeping perfectly and not having panic attacks that her “big day” (a concert, award ceremony, music video shoot) is tomorrow and she’s not “too nervous to sleep!” We would think, “ok you ignorant weirdo why do you feel so much better than us?”
If anyone doesn’t intentionally undergo life’s tough emotions and journey through the desires of their heart in tough, agonizing, down on your knees praying and begging for all grace, I am at a loss for words. That really would scare the living daylights out of me. Forget haunted houses and horror movies…
I remember being 20 years old in college and FEELING in my heart (aka God telling me), “there will be a need for your presence in ministry, in the Church, and I want you a part of it.” So when people asked me what I would do with my degree, I simply responded, “I don’t know but God told me it’ll be thrilling.”
And then they really thought I was going nuts.
My point is, with that God given moment came the joy of adventuring with God into the depths of my individual identity. I knew His voice was going to lead me down a path that helped me better know who I was.
I had to give up my degree pursuing journalism after my adviser told me she had great plans to make me the editor of the newspaper. Asking God, “what will make me happy?” was the most selfless thing I did in college. Which also means it was also the most painful thing I did in college. I had to get really comfortable saying my dreams out loud HOPING He would listen and follow through. Does that comes with heart palpitations, fears, a desire to run away, long sleepless nights, and many fears about what the heck would happen if it was all wrong?????? You bet…!
Which makes it all the more worthwhile. 😅
If you “don’t have your life together” on a “I didn’t win artist of the year” standpoint, chances are you’re pretty ok with where you’re at. Don’t rush it.
Don’t try to meaninglessly settle either. There’s some awesome dream or desire God wants you to unpack right now. Don’t ask for it — unpack it. It’ll tell you something about who you are deep down. It’ll bring you back to the you you know you have inside you.
There’s good and awesome plans for you and they have existed since the moment God thought of you (which was before your birth!!) God wants you to create time and space to try and hear what that is. I would not write this to you had I not had the utmost assurance that it will be the only way to attain greater happiness and purpose. To find Him and to personally encounter the overwhelming love He has for you surpasses all else.
Nothing beats God.
As I come to an end promise me you won’t just “get by.” Be stuck but promise me you’re still dreaming while you’re stuck. Don’t have your life together (whatever that means) but don’t delay in the power of embracing the God of the Universe’s dreams for you either. He dreams them for you and gives you a little taste of what they could be, if you ask, and then asks you to respond. The journey that follows IS the destination worth the pursuit.
All we have is time. All we have to do is trust the slow work of God. Like, we know that roses take a while to bloom after they’re planted so chances are we’re going to take a while. Mainly because we are more precious than roses.
My advice to you is to be raw, honest, and real with God. Let Him know what’s making you mad. Let Him know what you want. Let Him know you’re frustrated. THAT, that ongoing joy and suffering is why Christianity is so uncomfortable. Most people don’t have the patience to wait on God’s timing. But you can’t become the artist of the decade in a year… that would be mathematically impossible. 😉
It requires us to make heroic and virtuous decisions of perseverance and dedication. Little by little we can watch God’s grace work in us rather than watching our desires die by the wayside. It shows us that we can experience the agony of life and be accompanied by the joy of Heaven.
God’s will for you is to be whole, healthy, loving, and happy. God wants your heart protected and loved. He proved it to the point of inexhaustibly spending Himself. The time now is to reach out to Him so he can gift you experiences that lead to YOUR OWN personal happiness in Him. This is what will change your life. Anything that has the power to change your life should be scary. That means it’ll work.
I’ve let myself down many times but God has never let me down. With all the bottomless mercy a Spirit of Love has to offer, why the heck should anything else matter? To lose your heart is to lose it all and that will make idiots of us sooner or later.
Fight the good fight, the one in your heart.