Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do You Remember?

Do you remember the last time you rode a roller coaster? Mine must've been junior or senior year of college when I was at Six Flags with some friends. We'd been several times over the years, but for some reason that last visit just wasn't as fun. I remember thinking the roller coasters were unpleasant instead of adventurous. Kind of bone-jarring and nauseating. I thought to myself, huh, I must be growing up. That's not to say I wouldn't hop on one again just to make sure, but I'm not really chomping at the bit to do so, either.

Our friend Andrew posted a Bill Watterson quote on Facebook tonight that seemed to perfectly summarize my thoughts as I slipped into the contemplative reverie many of us find ourselves in this time of year: "The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along."

Of course, I won't pretend to sit here on New Year's Eve thinking that I've actually arrived. Do we ever arrive? My limited experience with adulthood says no. But for the first time in a long time, my thoughts have slowed down enough for me to look back and see that so far, it all needed to happen like this. I don't mean to be morbidly vague, but coming to the end of yourself is quite possibly the best thing you can ever hope for. Only then can you glimpse how big God is.

Last year I was all, good riddance 2012. This year, I would like to think that I'm wholeheartedly grateful for 2013. The dark, dark spring allowed the sun to shine so much brighter in the summer when I was ready to let it in.

I feel like the last 3 years  no, four yearsor five? okay maybe the last six years have been one massive roller coaster. I graduated from college in 2007 with bright eyes and high hopes, as one should! I saw all the freedoms of adulthood laid out before me and had no grasp of the responsibility it takes to build an intentional life. I mean, I knew how to manage my money and balance my checkbook (thanks Dad!). But there was no deeper concept that maybe adulthood is harder than it looks when you're a kid. I feel like this is fairly common. Quarter-life crises abound when reality starts to hit, right?

Anyway, I stepped off that stage, diploma in hand, and unwittingly stepped onto the crazy roller coaster of young adulthood.

I don't mean to stretch an analogy too far, but if you've been on this roller coaster surely you can empathize. At first, it's exciting! After all, the unknown stretching out before you is full of possibilities. There's a bit of an uphill climb, but that's to be expected as you start your career! Then at some point, your feet fall out from under you. Maybe it scares you, maybe it thrills you, maybe you're too busy worrying about how you look to notice how fast and far you fell. The roller coaster picks up speed, but that's life! You're busy. You're living life to the fullest or something like that.

As the roller coaster continues to accelerate rapidly, maybe you start to loose your breath. The turns are steeper and the climbs and subsequent drops become more and more frequent. Your stomach is constantly in your throat. Your teeth are rattling. Maybe you're still riding high on adrenaline, or maybe you start to get scared. You can't see where you're going anymore. You're terrified of what loops and twists and turns lay ahead. You realize you can't do anything to make this roller coaster stop. You think you'd rather be anywhere but here. You knuckles are white. Maybe you're screaming, maybe you're mute.

Suddenly, before you have time to think about what's happening, you grind to a halt. The machine throws your safety harness off and you're expected to test your sea legs on the hollow wooden platform. Is the platform shaking, or are you? Once you catch your breath, you step back and look at the behemoth before you with respect and a whole new appreciation for what just happened. Also maybe with gratitude because it's a little bit ridiculous that you're somehow still intact.

This is how I'm feeling on the cusp of a brand new year. I have a deep appreciation for where I've been, and I wouldn't change a thing. I feel like I've stepped off of one roller coaster long enough for the dust to settle-- finally! But I'm not so naive now. I know entirely new adventures await. Thankfully, 2013 taught me that the safety belt of God's peace will help a whole lot more than my own conniving plans to stop the roller coaster or somehow direct its course. Because sometimes you can't stop it. You just have to hold on for dear life, or let Someone hold onto you.

1 comment:

  1. How beautifully you expressed yourself in this blog !