“When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view.” (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
There is a restless uncertainty stirred up in me that I cannot leave unexamined. Six years ago, I graduated from college and moved here to Appleton with my sister, Jessica and one of our closest friends, Amy. The three of us excitely began this new stage of life. I had finished my Theology degree and was determined to start my career; Jess just returned from a year of missionary work in Jamaica and had a nursing job lined up at a hospital here; Amy was moving away from her family and hometown for the first time, with plans to enter college. Everything was new. The potential of the unknown surrounded us on all sides. I am happy to say that in all the ups and downs, the plans that succeeded and the plans that failed, we savored the experience together.
Truth be told, none of my original after-college plans withstood the test of time. I do not work at a Catholic parish or at a retreat center or for a diocese. I am not married. I don’t even live on my own. When I graduated and set out to find work as a director of religious education or youth minister, I had no intention of writing a novel within the next few years, and I had no intention of being an adminstrative assistant for the forseeable future. My intentions were specific, and they were wrong. The Lord closed every door I tried to open. He reminded me again and again how even during my studies, I knew in my heart that I was not called to be a DRE or youth minister. I pursued the logical choice because that was far less frightening than not having something specific to pursue. As He closed those doors and I wrestled with discouragement, the ideas began to come. I began to write. I praise Him now for preventing my stubborn, unenlightened plans.
Recalling God’s display in these years of His wisdom’s superiority over mine, I am left wondering when God will turn me in a new direction again. I question myself, “Where is He leading me now? Does He desire for me to settle in here or am I settling for less than what He has for me?”
Last night, Jess, Amy and I completed an ongoing tradition that began when we moved to Appleton together. It wasn’t anything deep or significant to the outsider, but it was a tradition very closely tied to the stage of life we began together six years ago. The emotional effect that its end had on me was a surprise. I thought about those six years, about what has and has not happened, and how all that is now looks so very different from all that was then. Amy has moved back to our home area but is living on her own and establishing a life there. Jess is happier in her job and with herself than she has been since leaving Jamaica. And I… well, I am still writing. My relationship with my family has altered and deepened in ways I didn’t expect, and the Lord has stretched and molded me via my life at my parish. The close of our tradition last night has me asking if I shouldn’t be so settled here. I certainly long for more, for new. I wait for publication and further writing opportunities. I wait for falling in love and marriage. I wait for adventures and friendships that have not crossed my path yet. But waiting and trusting in God’s plans doesn’t automatically imply inaction. While my heart will only find true rest in Him, I cannot believe that there are not other aspects to the restlessness. For it is in pursuing the desires of the heart, in taking chances and moving at the behest of the Holy Spirit, that I may draw nearer to my Lord. I don’t want to merely wait! I want to engage and pursue and try! I do wish I better understood how.