It feels like epic music has been playing in our life for the last month.
Between graduation, job interviews, and looking at grad schools, our life has been chock full of big decisions. Never will our life be so flexible. We could try to have a baby. We could move out-of-state. Any given week, it's [somewhat] easy for us to go on a big road-trip. We could do PeaceCorps or some other sexy humanitarian stuff. We could switch jobs.
By next year, we could be at some cool grad school in Seattle, living in a studio with a cat and dog, a little noise in the Puget Sound. By next year, we could be pregnant, doing good ol' youth ministry and scratching out a life in our first home.
Somehow, these things don't always make me hum with excitement. Big decisions like these feel so weighty that they're almost the ultimate thing.
And, just so we're clear, there are things that matter more than the big decision you're procrastinating on:
(1) Showing up matters more.
This is a hunch I've had for awhile, actually. It seems obvious the more you think about it: we might spend hours racking our minds and praying our little hearts out to make a wise decision, but we will spend months, maybe even years living within the decision that we made.
Say we choose to do grad school next fall. It's not an obviously bad decision. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why it might be a good decision. But only after we have made the decision does the real work of living well within it begin.
At bottom, all my life is a work of showing up to the present moment as best as I can. Oddly, though, when it comes to big decisions, I think we tend to put more of the focus on how to make the best decision when often times what matters more is thinking how to show up well after you have chosen one of several good decisions.
We like thinking about calling because there's not much skin in the game. It's all theory.
When I was a kid, I thought like one, drunk with daydreams where I never fail, never take 3 steps backward, never make a complete fool of myself.
But as I become a man, I realize I have a vocation that is asking things of me every single moment, like every breath I take is quietly asking if I have the rent for living in this beautiful earth. I realize a life of love gets its hands dirty and is willing to fumble its words when words need to be said, that it will think past and future but has fallen hard for the present moment.
(2) Gratitude matters more.
Of course, all these things I am writing, sipping hot coffee and snarfing peanut-butter bagels under a roof.
Which is to say, stressing about big decisions is a luxury. If the big decisions are exams, then I should probably be stressed out. But the whole mystery is that it's all a gift. Silly and bruised gift that it is. Just like God, it's obvious enough to recognize and hidden enough to ignore.
If the life I have is a gift, then so are the big decisions. I'm not a kid taking the ACT x 1000. I'm a kid on Xmas morning, unraveling the gifts that belong to me so they can just as soon belong to everyone else. If I am worried about big decisions, I am only worried how I can get these gifts into other people's hands, where my joy is complete.
photo: Raygen Brown
p.s. my wife is LIT