Let Go

When I look back on my life, I begin to see what was probably obvious to everyone else: I’ve been a control freak. In college, I tried so hard to find new friends that I effectively scared them away from me. Instead of letting things happen organically, I tried to force it.

As more of a tomboy, I sought out the friendship of boys. And as anyone could guess, that often led to trouble during my college years. I found myself on accidental dates. Or worse: the time I asked an acquaintance out for coffee.

I really wanted a friend and he was someone I admired. I knew he had no romantic interest in me. I just wanted to talk and maybe become friends. He didn’t reply to the message I sent. That’s the last time I remember interacting with him.

There were so many times I did this to myself. I worried and clutched tight when I really needed to let go. Letting go is one of those things that sounds so simple yet always leads to a struggle. It could be key to happiness for so many people, myself included.

If I could just let go of my grip, some of the bad things would blow away. And that would leave my hands open to receive the good things life has to offer. This is the great lesson at this time in my life.

I switched to a new job. It’s not perfect for me, but I really can’t complain. The atmosphere is tenfold better, which was enough for me to accept a pay cut. Except I actually ended up with a raise instead.

Everything seems to be lining up, except one tiny detail: it’s temporary. It could end if funding doesn’t allow them to renew my contract. And as a recovering control freak, that is downright terrifying. (Perhaps this is when I am forced to recover? Can a control freak be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to?)

Maybe life’s trying to help me with this self-improvement project. This job could be exactly what I need in ways I could never have guessed. Worrying isn’t going to help my situation. So I’m trying to just sit back and enjoy the ride, wherever it may lead.

It’s time to let go of the worry, anxiety, and anger. It’s time to start fresh with open, empty palms. That way, when opportunity sweeps in, I’ll be ready to catch it.

Cheers to letting go.

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Photo credit: another.point.in.time via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Pride and Patience

Twelve years. I’m not sure I should admit this out loud. It has been twelve years since I started writing my current book series. And I’m still working on it.

Most professionals would tell me to drop it and start fresh with a new story. If it isn’t right yet, it may never be. I beg to differ (and this is not perfectionism speaking). I could start fresh with a new story, but that’s really what I’ve done through all my drafts. Each time I started, it was a new story. And since I’ve been persistent, it has matured along the way.

Soon, I’ll start a query letter for a book agent and then move on to my next book while I wait. I’m finally ready to see if it can fly. And if not, nothing was lost because I fine-tuned my craft. Those twelve years were my Master of Fine Arts without the tuition fees. My next book will come along faster. I’m sure of that.

We live in a culture that severely lacks this kind of patience. Yes, I know, sometimes you just need to throw in the towel and move on. But sometimes, you need to stick with it. It takes a bit of wisdom and perspective to know which path to take.

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I have been forced am learning to be patient. I’ve waited for change for years now. I’d like to go in a new direction, both in career and location. I want to settle into a new house soon. But I’ve been unable to do those things. And it’s been so frustrating.

I’m beginning to see the not-so-harsh reality. I’ve learned from my stay here. I’m stronger in myself and have more confidence in my skills. I can handle more than I used to. I needed to go through all of these challenges to become who I am now. And that takes time. And sometimes time tries your patience.

Just when I’m on the brink of giving up, someone always throws me a bone. When I met my now-husband, I’d given up on the idea of marriage. I was ready to travel the world and let the wind blow me where it would–just not into a man’s arms. Today, I’m happy I took a chance and let him in.

I was who I needed to be at the time we met. A few years earlier, we wouldn’t have liked each other. Both of us agree on that. Time can mold us into better people if we let it.

I have new hope for my future. I just need to set aside my pride and realize that this is just one job. One place on a map. One stage in my life. Better will come. I just have to be patient.

Photo credit: WasabiDoobie / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Instantaneous Me

We are a society that demands and encourages instant gratification. It’s the reason people struggle to stick to their budget–they want what they want and they want it now. It’s the reason some people overeat or binge on junk food. They must have their food now, no matter the caloric cost. It’s why people actually buy those diet pills that promise weight loss in just two weeks. They don’t want to sweat it out and lose the weight naturally (and slowly) through habit changes.

We are an impatient people.

But despite our desires for instant results, life changes and progresses in baby steps. Sometimes the steps seem so insignificant that we don’t even know how we got where we are now. We can’t retrace our steps.

I want change. I think that’s quite obvious from my previous posts. But I wanted a big, explosive, life-changing event with instantaneous results. I wanted to be propelled forward into that grand, picturesque future. But life doesn’t work like that. There’s growth that must be had along the way. Instant results are bad for us. As it is said, the struggle brings character. It makes us stronger. Wiser.

I’ve overlooked so many baby steps. I don’t know how I got where I am today. I couldn’t do it over again in the exact same way. But I am here. And those little steps–those tiny changes–got me here. Some were so small that they felt insignificant. But together, they created my life as I know it today.

I’m too impatient. I want the big screen TV without the big screen budget. Life doesn’t offer credit cards. You can’t get what you want without the actual resources you need. But in the end, I think we’re all fully equipped for the future we’re meant for. We just have to have the courage to use those resources. The courage to act. To risk. To let go. To be patient.

Even a change in mindset can be a step in the right direction. The key is to keep moving. Something great lies ahead, but it’s not the end; it’s just a place along the path. A place to linger and enjoy the view. But the sun is hot and you’ve got to keep moving. One foot in front of the other. One good thing at a time with anticipation of the next one ringing in your ear. Avoid the snakes on the path. Stop. Breathe. Learn. Be grateful. Therein lies the reward.

We just have to be patient.

Unshaken Love

There are some types of love that you just don’t mess with.

When I was ready to date during college (at a small Christian university), I was met with disappointment. Every boy I was interested in seemed only to be looking for a wife. I just wanted to date. I discovered that I am not preacher’s wife material, as they made obvious when I showed any sign of interest in them.

At the time, I was hurt by this. They were telling me that I wasn’t good enough for them. I thought we were on the same playing field. Instead, I was on the bench feeling lonely and left out.

I was always magnetized to the guy who was already magnetized to his future preacher’s wife. And she was nothing like me.

In one instance, I had a crush on this genuinely good guy. One day in the cafeteria, I was sitting with a group that included him and his girlfriend. I watched the way they interacted and how they looked at each other. I could feel the electricity between them. It was not shallow, lustful electricity, but something true and strong (albeit subtle).

Later, I told my roommate that I knew they were going to get married. She said, “You don’t know that.” But I insisted that I did and that if she would just wait, she would see that I was right.

They are married today. *Insert smug grin.*

Anyway, my point of that story is that I saw and felt their love. This was the type of love that you don’t mess with. Even if you tried, you couldn’t easily break their bond. He had chosen his lady and even then, I knew she was the right one for him. I stepped down and distanced myself from my feelings until they withered away. My feelings for him were so shallow in comparison to hers.

It was a foreshadow. Just like an author drops hints to what is coming, God was nudging me. At the time, it didn’t feel like a nudge. It really felt like a kick in the gut.

Yet another foreshadow was when two friends of mine married. I watched them grow from friends to newlyweds. At the start of their relationship, they loudly denied that they were dating before finally and slowly reaching a point where they could deny no more.

I had never shed a tear at a wedding until theirs. In fact, I always thought it was ridiculous when I heard sniffles from other wedding guests. But when the bride came into the church, I was overcome with emotion. Truly, this was a match made by God. I knew it because I had seen it grow. They were made for each other. Their relationship planted a seed of hope in me that I’ve only just begun to recognize.

My husband and I started as friends, but it was not until we were alone together that we saw the potential that hadn’t come to the surface before. More than common interests, we have similar worldviews.

It was uncanny how his comments would echo my exact thoughts. It was like realizing you’re lost at the same time someone finds you. I didn’t know how much I longed to be understood like that. Perhaps this is what my friends above went through before they tied the knot. Perhaps they had shown me the possibility.

As our relationship grew into something more, we reached a point where we could no longer deny it either. We were in love. By accident really. And so here we are today: married and grateful to have found each other.

All along, those stings of love and the relationships around me were not God’s cruel trick on an aching heart. They were hints of what was to come. I just misread His intentions.

I wonder how often I do that with other elements of my life. When I spit complaints and anger at God, He could be in the process of doing something to make my future life that much better. How dare I think otherwise.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Target Practice

Thunk! In the movies, there is always a slick pling! and then a nice crunch as the arrow hits the target. With a bow in my hand, the sound is usually a thunk followed by a ricochet as the arrow falls flat on the ground away from the target. Archery does not come easy to me. It’s a challenge. I’ll admit it: I am awful. My husband wisely told me that everyone is awful when they start out. No one gets it right the moment they pick up a bow. Thank God I have him on my side. And you know, I think he’s right. At least I can say I have a lot of room for improvement. I wouldn’t want to start out with it mastered. That would get boring, I suppose. But it would be nice for the first few weeks.
Even in life I seem so off-target. I don’t know where to aim so I never get the arrow where I should. Sometimes it feels like I’m shooting up at the trees and missing every branch. All I get out of this is the joy of seeing the arrow flying and then the fright of taking cover as it plummets back to me. But I get nowhere.
I turn 29 in a little over a month. To some, I’m still so young. To kids, I’m ancient. Really, I’m just trying to magically turn into an adult. Career-wise, I’ve got a colorful resume. I’ve tried so many types of jobs that all I know for sure is what I don’t want to do. Like shoot into the trees. Where is my target? At almost-thirty years old, I still don’t know. Some people tell me I never will.
I don’t feel like I have unrealistic expectations. I studied Field Biology (Environmental Science) and Spanish in college. I was told Spanish would be a shoo-in for a job. They failed to warn me that if you don’t want to teach Spanish, retail is the most common second choice. And they’ll pay you maybe a whole dollar more per hour, making your hourly wage somewhere around $9….Okay, I’m being cynical here. In the process of hoping Spanish would be helpful, I’ve lost touch with it. Now I feel like my skills are sinking away from me.
I know I’m not the only person feeling this way. Economically, I do believe things are getting better. I just need to brush up on my skills, take aim, and find that blasted target.
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