Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There Is No Coast

There is no coast.

It's my new motto for life. (I have several...I just keep adding them to the list, but that's another day, another blog.) 

I'm not referring to the East or West Coast. I'd be a fool to contend that they don't exist. A car or a boat can coast. Even on a bike when you're riding it and you pedal really hard and really fast so that you can sit back while all the scenery whizzes by you, legs throbbing. That's coasting. Coasting exists, for sure. But what about coasting in life? Like day in, day out coasting. I don't think it's good for us. When we coast we take our eyes off the prize. We allow ourselves to be too easily distracted by things that don't matter, things that actually take us further from our destination. 

When I think of coasting, I think of being passive. You can't be active and coasting. I get more careless when I'm coasting. Particularly on a bike. I can think of more than a few occasions where I pushed myself hard, gained some really great speed, then sat back to rest and soak it all in...only to be jolted back to the task at hand by a rock, twig, or curve in the road that tried to throw me from the two-wheeled fast-moving metal contraption. I quickly began pedaling again (or braking, depending on the situation) and chose to focus, lest I end up in a twisted mess of metal. 

So what about coasting in life then? Do we do the same things? We work super hard at something, make some progress, get some good speed going, then sit back and ride on that for awhile. And what happens? A crash? A setback? A curve that causes us to wonder how the heck we got to where we did?

Just a couple weeks ago, I was feeling really good about some progress on internal things. I'd been working hard, trying to utilize the time I have now to take in what I can until my time soon becomes taken up by a job. Then I went out of town for the weekend, started to coast, and (even worse) started to enjoy the coasting. I didn't want to start pedaling again. It was easier to sit and just let things go by. Easier to not engage. Until something went wrong. Until thoughts started going down an alley that was darker than expected. I recognized this particular alley and concluded, after a bit of wallowing in self-pity and frustration, I'd better turn myself around and pedal quickly out of it. Which meant I could no longer coast. I had to actively pedal. Diligently begin working on the things I left behind. Was it fun? Initially no. But then I got out of the tunnel. I began to see some new scenery. I began to feel the accomplishment of working for where I was going, and not just pedaling harder and harder barreling through it just so I could rest again. I can't just sit back and expect to go great places (and I'm not just referring to literal places, sometimes it's often thoughts, emotions, spiritual places I need to press into). Slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes it's flat ground. Sometimes God takes us up hills. Sometimes He goes down them with us. But I am challenging myself to keep from coasting. To keep from losing sight of the goal, the promises. Each day I must take what He is offering, because what He offers on a daily basis is better than what I can store up and coast on.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Letting Go

I won't say I've had an epiphany. And I'm far from having "things" figured out. But I do know I felt a level of excitement yesterday about a job that I haven't felt for a long time. Possibly ever. Job-hunting has been a large part of the past two months. To be honest, nothing in the nursing realm seemed the least bit enticing. I even turned down an offer for nursing in an office setting (which still feels like the right decision). Coming to realize my lack of desire for nursing has been a mental struggle. In the past I have felt so called to that. There was never any question as to what I would major in in college. Nursing. All the way. I got my "dream job" after graduating. I enjoyed it. On some level I felt that I was good at it. But there was something nagging in the back of my mind telling me this wasn't what I thought it would be. Sure, it brought joy, but the thought of doing it for the rest of my life made me cringe. So I worked for three years, saved up, quit my job and took a trip around the world. I felt no more ready to go back to nursing when I returned home than when I left. Crapit! That wasn't supposed to happen. So what do I do now? I have a degree in something I don't want to - a degree I'm still paying for.

I've run the gamut of things I could do...nannying, secretarial work, interior designing, floristry (grasping at straws here...I know nothing about flowers!), personal shopping, etc. etc. One thing that won't leave me alone is how much I love baking. All my friends and family know it. The other day I recalled the Christmas gifts I gave to my friends in high school - boxes filled with cookies, bars, caramels, and a loaf of bread. What 17-year-old does that?! Just about everyone I know is aware of my desire to someday run a bakery. But in the reality of now, what do I do with that? I know parts of the equation - the beginning and the desired end, but the pieces in the middle are a bit unknown. But I took a step yesterday. One that seems so obvious in some ways, but yet it was so hard. I began pursuing jobs in bakeries. Duh. Why was that hard? The thought of letting go of nursing. Not a fear of missing it, but feeling like I've let someone down. I went to school for four years, worked another three...and what do I have to show for it? Working at an entry-level job that has nothing to do with my degree? I've had to tell myself What does it matter?! Seriously, what does it matter? If there was anything I realized on my trip around the world it's that God doesn't work in expected ways. Yes it would makes sense to work as a nurse. It just does. But God's plan isn't always going to make sense in the world. My passion is baking. Every fiber of my being longs to be swallowed in a world of batter, dough, frosting, and sugar! It's where I come alive, where my heart gets creative and energized.

So back to the excitement of yesterday. I walked into a bakery, resume in hand, heart pounding out of my chest, and introduced myself to the owner. After a very positive interaction with her, I walked out and thought That is where I want to work! I didn't walk out with a job (yet!), but what I walked out with was almost more important than the job. I felt a part of me come to life. The sounds, sights, smells of the place filled me with excitement, and I knew I was in the right place. Right now, that's enough for me. I'm hopeful for things to come, excited to see what is in store, and still telling myself it's OK pursue this...