Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Scenic Route

As I was learning my way around a new city this summer, I got lost quite a bit. What can I say? I don't have a good sense of direction. I didn't mind getting lost, though, partly because I knew it was inevitable, and partly because I know that is how I orient myself in a new place. I remember that last time I got lost because I went past that corner instead of turning, so this time I know better. Oh, I see that road ahead? That means I already went too far. My map was my best friend: I would consult it several times in one trip, because I couldn't hold its contents in my head for long enough.

Of course, later in the summer, I knew the city a lot better. I knew the shortest, straightest ways to the places that I went every day, and I didn't have to get lost, not even necessarily if I was going somewhere new. A good look at a map beforehand and I was probably going to be OK. Still, I wanted to see more of the city, and I wanted to see just how good my newfound sense of orientation was, so I found myself turning off on unfamiliar roads and trying to find new ways to get to the same places. And when I did that, I realized that taking the long way, while less time-efficient and more confusing, was an excellent way to see things that I otherwise wouldn't see and, well, generally enjoy life more.

For someone who has repeatedly found herself taking the long-drawn-out route to everything from graduation to getting over illnesses, and has always therefore felt as if she was a bit backwards and stupid, this was an amazing revelation. OK, so I graduated high school later than the average. So I'm not where the conformist in me thinks I should be considering my age. Aren't I in a really good place right now? Haven't I made friends that I wouldn't have made if I'd started college a couple years sooner? Haven't I learned things that I wouldn't have learned if I'd accomplished things more quickly and easily?

Maybe I shouldn't give myself such a hard time for being "slow". Maybe slow and steady really does win the race, but, even if not that, even if I can't tell yet if it's going to be a path to success, why can't I just think of it as taking the scenic route through life?

Saturday, August 7, 2010


If you could choose just one superpower, what would you want to be able to do? I suppose it's a question for fun conversations, for laughing and joking around, because of course it's not for real. But I think the way people choose to answer this question can say something about who they are and what they want to be and do.

I used to know what my answer was, always, without thinking about it. I would want to be able to turn invisible. I'm afraid I'd probably use it mostly to spy on people . . . can you imagine how much you could learn that way? It seemed like the perfect tool for the girl who liked people, liked watching them, had a curiosity for knowing what was going on inside their heads, but didn't want to draw attention to herself, didn't want to be looked at, and didn't like the idea of other people knowing what was going on inside her head. To see without being seen seemed like a great idea.

This morning, I realized that my answer to this question has changed. I don't want to be invisible anymore. I'd already noticed that my answer had changed a little bit: I wanted to be able to be invisible sometimes, but when I was visible, I wanted people to see me! But today, I asked myself the superpower question and was about to give the usual answer, when I realized that it just wasn't true anymore.

Which, obviously, led to the question: what superpower would I want now? I don't have an answer yet. I'm not sure I actually want a superpower anymore. I was thinking about it, and--this connection of topics might seem strange, but it wasn't premeditated, that's just where my brain went--I started thinking about showing people God's love, convincing them of His truth, shining His light. That's not a desire for a superpower. That's a desire for the Holy Spirit. That's a desire to be a servant of the Lord.

I don't want anyone reading this to think that I'm some amazing person who's always going around sharing the Gospel with people. To be honest, I'm terrible in conversations like that. Nor am I some amazingly spiritual person who set out to spend the summer growing in my walk with God. I'm growing, but I don't take any credit for that. I didn't seek God this summer nearly as much as He sought me.

What is true is that I am realizing that serving God is the thing that I want most to do with my life. I used to say something else was that, although I won't say what. But I've realized that that was not the right priority. The thing that I like least about my new highest priority is that it's so vague. Well, not vague, but it doesn't exactly answer the question of where I'm going to be living and what I'll be doing 15 years from now or even 2 or 3 years from now. At this point, all I know as an answer to that question is: whatever God wants me to be doing.