Too scared to dream.

Ever had one of those existential moments where you wonder what you’re doing with your life and where you’re going and why and how you got there? Please say it’s not just me.

I write this from an apartment in Bastille, Paris. A strange place for a crisis. I am here on holiday. It’s exceptional. To me it feels like an odd mix of Mexico and America. I recognise stores like Cartier, Tiffany’s and Swatch. But the traffic is manic like in Mexico. The worlds largest roundabout (the Arc de Triomphe) is constantly circled by swathes of cars. There are no lanes. It feels like chaos. It feels like Mexico.

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Aside from all the beautiful things to see, this is the first real time I’ve had in a long time to sit and think. And it’s dangerous. It’s really the first time I’ve let myself totally feel what has happened the last few months. Disappointment. Loss. Unmet hopes. Not one feeling that is pleasant.

I feel lost. More than a little like I’m grasping in the dark. I’m scared about what comes next, mostly because I don’t know what it is. Here I am: a graduate twice over, and unemployed. Eish. I never had a plan, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t part of it. Everything I thought I would do, I’m not doing. I’m not working in Geography or Urban Planning (my first degree). I didn’t finish my PhD. I studied theology for four years but I’m not being ordained, I’m not going overseas, I’m not working with kids, and I’m not a chaplain.

When I wander through art markets in Montmartre I wonder if I could be a painter who sells her paintings. When I while away time on Etsy I wonder if I could sew vintage decorations and sell them. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to do ten years ago. But I suppressed it because I thought I wanted to be a doctor. And all that other stuff was a bit hippy and weird. Who doesn’t want to fit in and succeed in all the traditional ways when they’re 16? Ten years later and I still want to do those things. Maybe that means something.

Do I have anything to show for the intervening ten years aside from an $85,000 debt to the government? Is all that time wasted? It’s easy to think so. My understanding of the world does not let me think this, even though some days I might like to. Does not God use everything to shape us? To grow us? To teach us of our dependence on Him? I believe so. If I had not started a PhD, I would not have moved to Wollongong, the place I really began to learn that God wants my love every day of the week, not only Sunday. If I had not gone to Mexico, I would have continued to believe that God’s will and mine were the same. I would not have learnt to trust His goodness when I can’t do what I want. If I had not gone to Moore College I would not have been pushed to answer questions like ‘why does God let his people commit suicide?’ There are no easy answers I’m afraid.

What do I have? I have a better knowledge of God and a better knowledge of myself. I’m still scared. So scared. So scared I don’t even like to dream – usually one of my favourite things to do. This pains me more than I care to admit. But I know that He has me. Even if I have no idea what’s coming. He has proven himself faithful, even in the moments when I didn’t think he would. Even in the moments when I wasn’t sure that I would be faithful.

I am afraid. But for this:

The Lord is my refuge and strength,
Therefore I will not be afraid.
Though the mountains give way and fall into the sea,
He will come and rescue me. Ps 46:1-2

Whatever comes.
Bring it.

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Barely standing

I am barely standing.

Standing is about all I can do right now. It feels like I’m standing in the middle of a whirlwind. I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

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The world whizzes past too fast for me to hold on. So I stand and watch. Sometimes I manage to grasp a moment, hold on to it for a moment, but before I know it, that moment has freed itself from my grasp and returned to the whirlwind. All I want to do is scream, ‘STOP!’ I wish there was a pause button for life. I need a moment.

But I don’t get the moment I want. I can yell as much as I like and it won’t stop the whirlwind. It won’t do anything except get a bunch of strange looks and concerned faces. I have no power here.

I take comfort in the fact that someone has that kind of power. The kind of power that stops a whirlwind. This is the true story of when Jesus calmed a raging storm, as told by The Jesus Storybook Bible.

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There are so many things to love about this story, but here are just two.

1. Jesus calmed the storm with a word. No excessive shouting. No magic. His powerful word. And that was it. It was quiet. He has the power to do what I could never do.

2. This quote from the last page:

Jesus turned to his wind-torn friends. “Why were you scared?” he asked. “Did you forget who I am? Did you believe your fears, instead of me?” […] Jesus’ friends had been so afraid, they had only seen the big waves. They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, then they had nothing to be afraid of.

I am like the friends of Jesus. I see the whirlwind. I see the madness. I don’t see the end. But right here, this story, it reminds me that Jesus is with me. I don’t see him, but I trust him, and he has promised that he will never leave me.