I'm pretty extremely excited that in just a few short days I'll be taking heading out to the state that has long had my heart: Montana!
I can't exactly remember when the initial urge to visit (and live, one day...) in Montana was- sometime before I went to Peru two years ago I think. Sometime when I was afraid of the space between 'what I wanted' and 'what I had,' when I didn't know I was creative (or brave, or adventurous, or resilient) enough to take that leap and bridge the gap.
But now I think one day it just might happen. And even if not exactly that happens, something like it will: something that extracts from my heart its deepest longing for beauty. One day, I will get there: not by having a step-by-step plan, but by knowing what it means to trust.
I continue to remember what it means to be brave and known in the eyes of God, and have faith, finally, that I was made to thrive and live my best possible life- even if I don't know how to get there exactly. All that's important is that you can tell, you can feel, what is in you, and you can get close and quiet enough with the idea that the way you were uniquely made is valid.
Nothing puts us so close to knowing we may someday see the full glory of who we feel we're supposed to become as knowing not that we so deserve it, but that we are loved, and forgiven. Only a sense of love, of being loved, can empower us to be that brave.
It was always something I worked for, my identity; something I clung too and needed to assert: the idea that I just had to prove myself as an artist (and a friend, and an employee, and a woman). We learn this way young, I think: that we always have to try to have an identity, have it validated by the affirmations of other people. It keeps us in a rigid box of only ever sort of knowing who we are, when we're really just pretending, playing a role.
But I am learning now a different way.
If there is something- whether it is creating art or music, whether it is climbing the mountains or being outside, whether it is cutting hair or mountain biking or cooking or whatever, the things inside our hearts that make us feel joy and alive-ness and abundance are the things that we were made to pursue.
Not just kind-of/sort-of touch every once in a while, but pursue. With a relentlessness that makes people look at our lives and say, 'she goes so boldly after what she wants, it's almost as though she believes there's something at stake.'
And there is. Our life is at stake, our soul is at stake. A chance to understand what we are on earth for is at stake: the answer to the big question. If we don't feed this awareness first- if we don't sacrifice and challenge ourselves and make hard decisions in favor of who God has made us to be- we can't be authentic.
I'm a rationalist, and for a long time I got by being proud of myself and my ability to hold my own in an argument, have a valid opinion, figure things out, and be pretty well informed and educated. It wasn't so much me that I let people see, but my opinions, my philosophies; the way I reflected the world around me, but not the way I actually ever brought anything new and authentic into it.
And I'm not so sure that's really who I am- or who I even really want to be.
I still like to figure things out, and I'm glad I'm informed and educated, but I'll be honest: I really don't care about my opinions, and I don't think anyone else does either. So that's not what I share. I think we sometimes share our opinions of other things when we don't quite know how to share ourselves, when we don't know who we are so we need to assert what we call 'beliefs.'
I know God doesn't ask us to do this. He asks us to diligently lean into Him and not follow any rules, not get super-religious, not sign a binding contract where we give our whole lives up to him.
He asks us to go on an adventure that leads us home. It's life, and without Him, it was monotonous and pretty boring, because I forgot what it was like to wonder and long for bigger things.
I know that's in my heart too: a love for adventure and wildness, for going out and seeing the world. The stars, the open sky, the forests, the mountains- everything created that awakens. If there's nothing at stake, I'll always draw up these excuses for not doing it: 'not enough money,' 'too little time,' 'it's not that important.'
When we start to attribute the deepest desires of our heart to their deep placement within us by the Lord, we start to see an unimaginable story unfold. As we go on the path of following Him, everything else we desire becomes ours. And it's still never when we think it's going to be, because even without Him, our thinking doesn't control timing.
I've learned to stop asking 'when' and just follow obediently, with trust. When we ask 'when' too much it implies that we think there will be some precise time when we think we'll be ready, but of course we should know: we never decide that anyway.
I've known for a long time that I've wanted to go to Montana. I don't know why it's happening now. I knew since I was ten that I wanted to go on a volunteer trip abroad, and I never had the opportunity as a kid. So by my timeline, I went a decade and a half late. By the Lord's timeline, I went exactly as I was supposed to, and I see that now. I wasn't right about that story. And that's what devoting your life to Christ does to you: it doesn't make you a holy man or a perfect person or a self-enlightened being, it puts you in touch with how limited and non-eternal your vision is, and then reveals to you a better means of achieving it: a tandem adventure with your Creator.
To pioneer through your life in both action and character, to have outwardly an expression of what you have inwardly, and to have both be extremely beautiful: that is the adventure, and the reward.