Where are you going?

[Skip to beneath the horizontal line for the poem portion]
{If you’re reading this right now & this is still here, that means that I haven’t edited this at all so if you’re confused, it could be because the post is onboard the struggle bus}

It seems that no matter where you are in life there’s a contstant pressure to be thinking about what’s next for you. This is especially enforced in western culture where there seems to be an unspoken understanding that life is about your next steps and your end goals.

Now, I’m not advocating that you don’t look at next steps or end goals– but there is a lot of beauty in truly believing that you can be just as valuable, and in some situations more valuable, to those around you by dedicating your focus to being present.

For me, this is specifically true for my college life. Going to college in California has been my dream since I was in 5th grade (long story for another time). So now that I’m doing just that, it’s become really overwhelming that beyond this I have lots of dreams instead of one specific goal. Instead of focusing on having a “big future,” I recently realized that I am in a really unique situation right where I am. The future is now.

As a college student (and especially as a single person*) I am taking in so much knowledge and living in a way that I probably never will again. Though I am very busy, in many ways, I have more time now than I ever will. I’m not driving hungry kids to soccer practice, nor am I responsible for making sure I’m available for regular date nights. If I want to eat lunch with my friend at 12:30, I can because I want to. I don’t have to run it by my parents. I don’t have to run it by anyone. I do what I want because even though it may not seem like it if you are one, young adults in western society have some of the most freedom that there is to have. I’m not trying to diminsh the life struggles of young people, I’m just saying, be thankful for what you have and make the most of it because whether you believe it or not, you’re in your prime.

How do you make the most of this young adult life? This is a time to build a foundation in my life. Being away from my parents, it’s the first time that I’m able to see what I really think or believe for myself– from big things to small things. For example, some of the things the questions you will face, whether you recognize you face them, or not are things like–

  1. What things do I believe?
  2. Are the things I believe about faith and life and destiny anchor my life?
  3. How much of what I believe is naturally implemented into my life because of how my parents orient our household?
    1. This could include larger beliefs about theology and metaphysical realities, or even really small things like, “Do I eat the foods that I eat because I actually like them? Or are they things I’ve just been eating because that’s what we’ve always had in our house?”

The final question that is arguably the most important question that everyone needs to address is–

4. Why do I believe the things I believe?

These kind of things, big and small, can be really helpful to establish– especially the big questions because those are things that should be asked no matter if you move out of your parent’s house or not. The little things, like food preference and other things you’ll just have to discover whenever you move out.

Ultimately, I’ve decided that the most important thing for me to do in answering the question, “Where am I going (next)?” is being here, now.
I want to be fully present with the people around me and sincerely engaged with the life around me. I’m striving to build that foundation of Christ as the cornerstone in my life in hopes that this will help me create habits that help me continue to strive after him forever and always. I want to know the ins-and-outs of scripture. I want to spend so much time with God. I want to have a deep understanding of what it means to use my spiritual gifts. I want to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit in my life in a way that I will be actively utilize it on a daily basis. I want to be filled to the brim with an understanding of my identity (which lies in Christ). Not that I’m expecting to be perfect in these things, but I want to focus on that during these formative college years so that whatever is next, I am set on a firm foundation.

 

Anyway, that entire train of thought is more or less an introduction to this poem which reflects some of these thoughts and is hopefully an encouragement for us to face that voice that makes us feel like we have to know what’s next, and tell it that we are being present–


“Where are you going?”

I turn back. “Who’s there?”
I ask.

“Dear child,” the voice says,
And repeats, “Where are you going?” once again.

“Where are you going?” Another calls.

“Depends– Why do you want to know?” I inquire most of all.

“Because,” The anonymous person intrigues,
“I want to know if you’re good enough for me.
Are you the kind of person who will let all this money go to waste?
A college degree won’t mean much if you end up on the streets in a haste.
It could be that I’m interested but I also want to know how I measure up.
So this question is really a measuring stick to help set the bar for ‘good enough.'”

“That’s all fair,” I reply, knowing that I sometimes do the same too.
“But the more I think about it actually, I don’t know if that’s a good thing to do.
Why are we so focused on continuing on, worrying about how we’ll do great things in future?
Because those things won’t mean much if we don’t take care of what we have to do here.”

I’m trying to be more present.
I’m trying to be here, now.
I’m hoping that my heart will learn how to be more relevant
As I learn how to be in the moment, somehow.

What if the next few years of my life were about being dedicated to growing my character?
What if I was particularly focused on laying a good foundation and not on the merits of marriage- err
I take that back, oh wait,
it’s too late
now I can’t.
If you see me wilting in the background, be thankful I’m not your potted plant.

But seriously though. How might the world be different if I were just living day to day,
Focusing on growing deep roots in Jesus Christ and loving my neighbors as myself along the way?

Sincerely, what if that were my goal and that was the goal alone?
I’m beginning to see more and more why this place is not my home.

 

“Where are you going?”

I still hear it. The beckoning will never really stop.
No matter where I go,
There will always be someone who wants to know
And when I tell them, their eyelids will hardly drop.

Blank stares are the reaction that I’m bound to recieve
As people aren’t prepared for the answer to the question they’ve just asked me.

“Where am I going?” I reply (this time with a smirk in my head).
“I am going to be right here, focusing on how to be a better friend.
I stay here on late mornings and I talk to God a lot.
I’m working on being much more patient. It’s hard, but I give it all I’ve got.
I’m trying to build my character, so that I might be full of integrity.
I’m trying to sink an anchor in truth and understanding so that I will know what I believe.
So that when I’m done here I hope that no matter what happens next,
I’ll be able to leave behind me a legacy that isn’t simply ‘She was the Best of the Best.’
Because what the heck does that mean anyway?
And what will it matter when I’m dead?
If I’m going to leave something behind, I want it to be something you’ll never forget.
‘Emma knew how to love and she loved really well. She wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t matter.
Because in everything that she did, she tried to put God first and anyone in need would be lucky to have her.’
Short, sweet, to the point. You can edit it if you want, but more or less that’s what I want it to say.
Only if, of course, that becomes true. I know that I’ll always be learning until that final day.”

“Oh.” Is the response (just as I suspected).
They’d look at me confused, but I wouldn’t feel rejected.
I’d laugh and shrug it off because, like I said, I know they weren’t ready.
And that’s perfectly okay because what is life without being a bit unsteady?

“So, where are you going?” Still, I hear it. It never goes away.
But I feel more and more content as I answer the question again every day.


**I’m not desperately single, it’s just true lol. Single people have more time, ya know?

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