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Taking Deep Breaths

Okay, so, in spite of the optimism in my last post, I've actually been really wrestling lately. It seem like I go through cycles in my life, and right now, I'm revisiting Restlessness.

I guess in a way, I thought that by the time I turned 30, I would have a few more things figured out. Such as, What I Want to Do With My Life. I'm several months away from ending my second decade, and I know that 30 is just a number, not a deadline. But still. I can't seem to make sense of my passions and desires and gifts, at least, not in a professional, salary-earning sense. And it's causing me a lot of frustration.

It's like, Whoa, here I am in Adulthood. And I wasn't really ready to be here, but now I am. Where do I go and what do I do now??

I'm reading this fantastic book called "Culture Making" by Andy Crouch. I know it seems like every time I mention a book I'm endorsing it, but if I bother to mention what I'm reading, it's because it's good. Really. So Crouch is talking about how we as Christians--and Humans, foremost--have a fundamental calling toward culture. Well, two, actually. One is to cultivate the good that is already there, like a gardener. Like our first parents, in Eden. The second is to create new culture. And that it is only by doing these two things that we begin to "change the world."

To do either of those things well, Crouch suggests, one must first be a culture keeper. I sort of feel like I've already been that most of my life. Even this past week, I spent a good chunk of my recreational time watching TV shows. I don't currently have a working TV, so it was either catching up on this season's Heroes, Chuck, Pushing Daises and Bones online, or watching DVDs of last season's Chuck and Eli Stone. (I like a lot of TV shows. I'm a sucker for a good story, and all of those that I listed qualify. )

But I don't want to just consume culture anymore, or even critique it to point out why it's a good story and you should watch, too. I long to create something that no one else ever has, to send something out into the world and have it "push the horizons of the possible."

I'm realizing, though, that things like that don't happen overnight.

It's hard for me, to be stuck here again, in this place where I can't quite see what God is doing in my life. (I think it helps, a little, to watch the stories of others who must feel the same way--I'm sure Chuck and Eli could both relate a little to this feeling!) I'm not going to lie, I've been really stressed and frustrated lately. Maybe even a little depressed. I feel like all of my emotions have been closer to the surface than usual, and not just because of biological reasons.

Outside, it's been beautiful here--and I love the fall--but somehow I just haven't been able to enjoy it as much. And that's sad. I don't want to be like that. So I'm trying a different approach. A more grateful approach. I want to acknowledge and be thankful for the good things in my life, like family and friends. And little things, too, like a new pair of earrings or a tuna sub from Subway.

You know. Spending time in worship. Learning new songs. Working on my writing. Taking pictures. Watching a good TV show. Recycling. Playing with pets. Smelling good. Taking deep breaths. Not letting myself get all bent out of shape when things don't go my way. Realizing that life is never without battles. Last year, it was my love life; now that I've made peace with that, it's my professional life. And so it goes.

I'm not trying to be glib or sanctimonious here. It's a real struggle for me to have all this passion to change the world and the church and to do something meaningful and lasting, but not actually have the means to do it. Yet. But like any good lament, if I can't pause at the end of the day and acknowledge that God must have a purpose I can't see yet, then I would really be in bad shape.

Psalm 138:8

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
And this was the Biblegateway.com verse of the day:

“Many are the plans in a man's heart,

but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”- Proverbs 19:21


Anonymous said...

I think you are amazing and you have an incrediable talent that will be recognized. The hard part is waiting for all the puzzle pieces of our lives to start connecting so we can see the real purpose, which is God's purpose. I'm sorry you've been stressed lately worrying about what your life professionally can be SO draining. I go through cycles of it, on month I will be all carefree and then the next I'm like, "Do I really want to be a teacher?" And I start looking up information on different jobs.


Anonymous said...

YAY that was OFFICIALLY my FIRST comment on Blogger :). I'm really glad my earlier comment made you feel better. This week I was looking into becoming a librarian :P I don't think ihave a librarian voice lol. But it just goes to show you have confused I feel. Sometimes I wonder if anyone REALLY was sure they wanted to be whatever they became. Maybe Doctors... since it's such a long gruesome process.


Anonymous said...

*how confused I feel :P not HAVE

Marty said...

My wife did not feel like she really lived until she hit 30. When 40 rolled around - she actually said that "it is only getting better!"

Anonymous said...

Nope. Doctors feel the same way. My friend Natasha decided about 3 months ago to quit surgery and go into Law. She was one semester away from finishing her residency. I think she's crazy, but I'm not God. So, if God wants her to go into Law, then I'm glad she's heard and following that calling.

Personally- and I know that this is going to be a harsh criticism- but I think you need to stop watching so much TV. If you're watching more than 3 hours a day. That's too much. Get out of the house and away from the TV/computer girlfriend!!!

I know you love stories, but you need to make your own stories!

Do some crazy things. Go for a bike ride (in a busy park, of course) or a walk. When you go grocery shopping, take your time and talk to some random single guy in a isle about how soup cans make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they remind you of winter time.

I don't know. Maybe I just feel inspired myself lately, because I've found that I'm making my own memories more often because I'm not watching TV. I don't have time to. James keeps me too busy helping him on the GTO (muscle car).

Well, that's all. I'm mean. But that what God tells me. Uh...not the being mean part...well, sometimes...but the making my own memories.

Lovings and kissings,
cynthia d

Anonymous said...

LOL I really asked her that! :) I was soooo self-absorbed. And I really was irritated that she hadn't made breakfast, talk about bratty. I think I've told Beth-el this whole story but I'm going to let her read it just in case.

It's just hard cuz I'm 22 and it seems like everyone else is so certain of what they want to be and I'm so undecided.

I don't think you should feel bad though because you are chasing your dreams, you wrote a book and ur still writing. Just because your still working what you want to do with ur life doesn't make you even close to a failure. Actually, it makes you braver then most people.

J. M. Richards said...

Cynthia sweetie,

don't fret. I don't watch more than 3 hours a day. Usually--unless I'm with family or friends, in which case, we usually ARE making memories. Though I love my TV, I don't have TV right now, so I can only watch DVDs or shows on my computer.
And God has blessed me with some really good friends, with whom I make memories on a weekly basis. Today we went traipsing around enjoying the fall scenery. But tonight, we will watch TV!

But I wholeheartedly agree that I need to be creating more culture instead of just consuming it--because that's exactly what Andy Crouch is writing about!!

And...I'm working on it. Really, though, I need to work on getting it into the hands of other people, which is much more of a challenge than actually writing. (Writing involves my computer, though, at which I do spend a good chunk of time, I confess.)

But don't worry, I still live my life. Just because I like watching other people's stories doesn't mean I've given up on my own. Far from it--usually it inspires me. :)

Anonymous said...

So...it's just a feeling "stuck phase" you're going through then.

Okay, cool. Everybody, and I mean everybody, goes through those. I just have to remind myself of that when I start a "stuck phase".

I guess because I never share how I'm feeling or what I'm wrestling with with anybody, I get worried for my friends when they do share what they're wrestling with.

In my mind I see things kind of like a man. I know that sounds stupid. But if a person is talking about something bothering them I have a strong desire to give them a solution to the problem instead of just recognizing that they may just want a listening ear.

That's how guys react. They're problem solvers.

And You know this well enough about me, I'm not into sharing anything with anyone. That's changing slowly with me. James used to get so mad because I wouldn't share my feelings with him. Weird, huh?! A guy that actually wants to know what I'm feeling.

There's God's sense of humor for you. He puts a sharing man with a non-sharing woman. LOL

oh well. He knows what He's doing.