A few weeks ago I turned 34. As far as I know, there’s nothing spectacular or significant about this age. Although People Magazine did once report that women are the most comfortable with their bodies at the age of 34, so…there’s that. I wonder if it’s true? I’ll be sure to report my findings on the subject here (because I am me and I tend to report all findings here, whether relevant or not).
To be honest, it’s been an interesting year. A season of upheaval, if you will. A season of familiar markings in the landscape of my life cracking and breaking apart so they can be rebuilt again. It’s been a season of discomfort and growing pains. A season of new, scary, and exciting opportunities.
If anything, I am learning that God doesn’t write boring stories.
They are full of adventure and romance, rise and fall, trial and triumph, and good and evil. Yet as exciting as that all sounds, I’m finding that I don’t always participate in that story. I sometimes miss out on the best parts of God’s story for me because I’m too busy trying to manufacture the story I’m writing for myself.
A safer, more comfortable story, if you will.
One year ago, I was out in the wilderness, both literally and figuratively. I was feeling afraid and dissatisfied in general, but mostly I was just desperate to hear from God. I felt an urgency to encounter him equaled by a fear that I wouldn’t, that I’d forgotten how. I feared that the hum of normal everyday life had completely drowned out the sound of his voice.
Like most noteworthy moments in life, it was both brutal and beautiful.
I sat on a log in the wilderness taking in this gorgeous view on a chilly December morning and I told God that I was dissatisfied and afraid. I told him I was sorry about that. I told him I wanted more. I told him I wanted to do things. I had ideas, hopes, and plans and I thought we might have a conversation about it, God and I.
Instead he told me not to worry so much about those ideas, hopes, and plans that were burning in my heart. Instead he told me to just let him love me. He told me step out into a romance with him. He told me to quit trying to write my own story and to just see what would unfold. It was not what I expected to hear but I listened because it pierced my heart, the way a truth always does.
I climbed off of the fallen log and I left that spot in the wilderness, both literally and figuratively. I came home, looked up the definition of Romance, and when I read it, I knew this was going to be my Word of the Year for 2015.
I knew God was calling me to step out into a romance with him before I pursued any of the other desires burning in my heart. On the one hand, I was relieved to have heard from God. On the other hand, I was terrified to leave the wilderness because it had become my comfort zone. It had become my familiar hiding place.
Here’s the thing with comfort zones: They are the easiest place to become miserable.
I used to be afraid of not getting what I wanted in life. But you can get everything you ever wanted and the fear will just change shape. Fear is tricky like that. You’ll just become afraid of losing what’s most important to you, or you’ll feel afraid when you realize it isn’t going to satisfy your soul like you thought it would.
Is this what it means to be an angsty millenial? I always thought that didn’t quite suit me. I thought crisis was not my brand. But I think maybe crisis is everyone’s brand, at some point.
God doesn’t write boring stories, but he also doesn’t always write easy, comfortable stories. I think every story is a romance to God. But like any great romance story, there is always an element of risk involved. There is always a choice to be made and bravery required. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an epic story.
As I look back and reflect over the last year, I’m finding that the more I step out into a romance with my God the more my story is being filled with mystery, adventure, excitement, and risk. The joys have been deeper. The trials have been harder. The opportunities have been bigger. Both the pain and the comfort have felt more visceral.
I’ve given more of myself away and I’ve felt more alive than ever before.
I’m finding that the more I’m willing to lean in to the growing pains, to embrace the risk, and to show up for all the parts of my story, whether they’re easy and comfortable or difficult and scary, the more it vanquishes the fear and dissatisfaction.
I’m finding that all the best parts of my story exist outside of my comfort zone.