Well, I made it to the site of my next and newest adventure: Colorado!
I moved my life and my little painting operation a thousand miles from home today to Rocky Mountain National Park, and what a decision it was. My heart has shamelessly pined for the mountains this year, while simultaneously opening up to a lot of goals, dreams, and possibilities I can now see have been stirring in me for a while.
Like any journey, this one really began long, long ago and has been shaped by decisions I've made, commitments I've stuck to, and things I've learned in the past few years.
I wish I could say I've always been an adventurous soul- maybe deep, deep down I have been- but I never really let it come out much or did too much about it, I suppose. Just a few years ago, I was a lot more timid. I would never have moved my life away from the comfort of home and I certainly wasn't 'ready' then to dedicate my life to living for my passion.
It's funny to think I was once a young, lost twenty-something grinding my gears for money, comfort, things, and professional prestige, working 40 hours a week in an office, just dreaming about 'chasing my dreams' or 'loving my life' or 'living to the fullest.' (Okay, so it only took me about a year- not a few decades- to decide that I just couldn't live that life, but hey, it was a decision nonetheless.)
And yet, here I am now. Something sure has changed. I drove away from home with the peace of heart and inner integrity of total and complete belief that this is the rightest thing. Even despite the difficult goodbyes and knowing that so much unknown is ahead, I left with the same ease as though I was just going to another day of work.
It made me realize something, on reflection. I carry my home in my heart now. I have learned (and boy has it been hard, but I have learned) to rest in an inner joy versus a circumstantial one, to not so much believe that I am a capable wonderful person, but more that I am a very flawed, broken person who has decided to love and follow a flawless, whole, perfect God. It's helped me put my ego away and allowed space for my soul to come out.
And the closer I am to Him, the better my life gets and the more I can do. I've learned to let my deepest sense of peace flow from here, and then to let everything else fall into place from there.
On the road today I realized that it hasn't always been this easy for me. We see the people we meet sometimes at their highest highs, sometimes at their lowest lows; sometimes on the brink of greatness and sometimes in the depths of grief and despair, and I am no exception. Sometimes great, big, rich, inspiring, wonderful, go-getting lives are actually, in a way, just byproducts of making use of a great deal of suffering.
Life kind of puts us all through refining fire: pain, things we have to uncover about who we are that are maybe uncomfortable; things we have to lose or to leave or to give up, but often our greatest gifts come from our deepest wounds. As I drove through the middle of America yesterday I realized that I feel more "at home"- at peace, in joy- out on the open road, underneath the huge sky, looking out over the unfathomable beauty of creation than I do surrounded by all the comforts in the world.
And maybe that's why God hasn't given me many of them: because I thought I wanted comfort, but now that I have freedom, I see that I was wrong. Maybe not getting what I thought I wanted all my life was a beautiful display of His love, not harshness; of His guidance, not His absence.
Maybe He makes us wait (and fail, and suffer, and rebel, and get lost, and even turn away) so that we can have the real desires of our heart.
My heart has so longed for the mountains lately, this past year in particular: trips to Olympic and Glacier National Park, and feeding a worldview of looking at life itself like an adventure, have all pushed me forward to this next step. It's nice to be in a place where I feel more 'me' than ever before- not, actually, that this is what I pictured. That's the funny thing: trying to shape ourselves from a place of confusion or wishful thinking or survival doesn't ever lead us to our best, most authentic selves.
We don't know what our best life looks like, but God does, and He's always giving us clues and hints and insights to His foresight that move our hearts in all the right ways, to sort of say to us, 'go after that. I made you to love the things that will lead you to Me and that is what will sustain you without fail.' Carrying this awareness within me, I see it so clearly now. It's what's made it just a little easier to do what I once would have thought was impossible.
Whatever God has made us to love, we should pursue, because in that pursuit we learn what it means to experience the richness of the world, the best part of the human experience, a movement toward something that moves us toward Him, toward home. It's this quiet little thing we carry in our hearts that makes the world beautiful despite the things that make it scary.
I haven't been doing it that long, all things considered, but I have to believe now that stepping out in faith, feeling that inner spark igniting and having the courage to follow it and do something about it, will yield more of just what I (and maybe some others) need for the future.
So here's to being excited about the unknowns, the next steps, the great 'what if this actually works?' that we all want to write into our stories, and the chance they give God to work.