Let me set the scene we’ve got going here: I’m sitting at my desk in my pajamas, running off of three hours of sleep, listening to my “sad, sunny afternoons” playlist (PS I’m a 13-year-old emo girl), typing in a room lit only by candlelight, because I have a migraine and absolutely everything hurts. Normally, in this moment, I would give up and go to sleep. Which seems like an appropriate response.
But I feel like I have so much to say. There’s nothing specific that I’ve outlined or anything, but I can feel it all moving and stirring in my head and if I don’t get something out, it’ll be bad news for me.
I purchased a plane ticket to New Orleans today. That’s responsible spending of my first paycheck in my mind. I am so excited to see the friends I left out there, go back to my old job, spend time in the city I fell in love with so quickly. Part of me loves making these impulsive, semi-irresponsible decisions. I should be saving my money for the rent I’ll have to pay come August. Riding the streetcar, conversations beneath Spanish moss, hearing that strange, wonderful accent again, walking through the quarter—the choice was pretty easy.
That’s a fun, good thing. There are other things going on though. Lately I’ve noticed this apathetic, indifferent attitude I’ve developed toward my own future. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but found myself saying things like, “I don’t care where I end up.” I had stopped having any real opinion on it. During the prayer time at church, I realized this was totally a defense mechanism.
See, my relationship with my dad is pretty emotionally distant. I don’t feel like he cares about me or thinks of me as worthy of his time, attention, or affection. This is something I’ve recognized for years. I see patterns of behavior that I have and I know that I can accredit them to my resistance to healing from our relationship. The messages from my dad are ongoing and right now the hardest thing to discuss with him is my future.
I always felt like I was disappointing him in a big way when I rejected USC’s offer of admission as a high school senior. I followed what I wanted and went to Tulane instead. When I started talking about transferring to Westmont for this spring semester, my dad was unimpressed; he assumed it was for the guy I was interested in/started dating/just broke up with. My dad considered it a poor choice, believing the school was below my academic abilities. Knowing he thinks I’d pick up and change my entire life for some sort of crush really hurts me. I feel like he thinks of me as a dumb little girl, not a young woman who is deeply self-aware and very in touch with what I believe is God-given discontent.
Since Westmont didn’t work out, I’m back in the college decision period once again. My favorite place. Just kidding, guys, I hate it.
When my dad asks about my plans for school, I’m super defensive. All I want is to get the conversation over with because I assume that if I stay in it long enough, I’ll receive a discouraging, doubting, or sarcastic comment from him. He’ll think it’s funny, but I’ll leave feeling deeply wounded. I’m much more sensitive than I let on.
So, as we often do, I have projected my situation with my earthly father onto my heavenly father. Oops. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been totally withdrawn from God on this issue. I trick myself into thinking I’m being open with Him: drop a quick prayer every night—something along the lines of “And please let Your will be done when it comes to school next year. Amen.” It’s just become something I tack on to the end of more sincere, vulnerable prayers. It’s not something I’ve felt the freedom to be transparent about at all.
This brings us back to Sunday night. For the first time, I became overwhelmed by one jarring, plain fact: God cares about my future.
He’s not waiting with His arms crossed for me to open up so He can shake His head and say, “Nope! You got it wrong again. You messed that up. You’re choosing this for the wrong reasons.” Those are the messages I hear from others, but they’re not true of my loving, affectionate Lord. He wants to support me. He wants to hear my fears, my doubts, my anxieties: how I’m worried that I won’t get into a school near home, or that I’m just making choices based on friendships I have, that I’m not living up to my “potential,” that I’m disguising my own petty feelings as “God’s will.”
I’m frightened. I feel like a little girl, nervous about going down a slide—something that silly and small. Because if I’m realistic about Kingdom living, a decision on where I go to college is silly and small. There is no singular, correct option. I just get to continue making choices and hoping in God’s name that He’ll show me enough mercy to guide me into His will.
I feel like God came down and brushed my hair away from my face, showed me who I was looking at and, in this, set me free from lies I couldn’t even recognize before. He set me free and will continue setting me free.
I have a lot of healing to do. Right now, I feel like I’m coming before God with my hands cupped, cradling all these little plans and options and thoughts and emotions. I feel a little bit bashful about it—a little bit shy. It’s hard to show yourself to a lover sometimes.