In the Darkness

Every several months I take a social media fast. Not that I think there’s anything inherently wrong with being on Facebook, Twitter and the like, but over time scrolling through the noise becomes deafening. So I stop. I let the urge to click, refresh, scroll down, refresh, express my emotion instantly, scroll, and get lost in the labyrinth of friends’ profiles pass me by, even as my fingers seek the keys instinctively. There are days that in my search bar I start typing “Face….” and stop myself just in time, although often I click enter before I can stop myself and come face to face with the tempting log in screen. It’s a daily battle with myself, which I hope will make me stronger in the long run.
The silence hits. Seconds, minutes, hours open up to a new possibility. Where once my eyes perused a 4-inch screen to discover its every last message, now I begin seeing the little details around me. My mind begins to flirt with thoughts that I’ve shut out for months or ignored vehemently by seeking an alternative train of thought at the touch of a button.
Am I enough? My mind searches desperately for a reason to escape giving an answer. Do I need to forgive? Maybe there are dishes that still need to be washed, laundry that needs to be folded, a room that still needs to be vacuumed. Do they really care? Reading is supposed to be good for you, maybe it’s time to pull an old classic from the bookshelf and lose myself in the prose of an author who actually had it all figured out. Am I where I should be? I bet there are still some unanswered emails in my inbox, and it would be rather rude not to respond to them right away, even though they’re from last week. What do I need to change?
It’s in the silence, deliberating with myself, that I start to hear the squeaks in what I once thought was a well-oiled instrument, accentuating areas that need tending to, especially in the painful-to-reach corners. The unnerving process of confronting each thought head on often gives me a headache. It’s not like I’m going to figure out the answers to all of my questions right now anyway. So why try?

These thoughts lead to somewhere in the darkness. Maybe the darkness is exactly where I need to be from time to time.

Sometimes a journey doesn’t need a destination

We all reach a time when we’re no longer happy where we are. For some it’s just a matter of restlessness, others have grown to a point they need a new challenge, and occasionally it’s just about becoming so uncomfortable where you are that the unknown holds more hope than your present reality. For some of us lucky ones, we’re hit with all three of these motivations.

I come from a family of restless people. My dad grew up in the mission field, so standing still is a relatively new concept for him. My mom grew up in one place and I think had stood still for too long. So I grew up moving around, but never fully understanding the reasonings behind the decisions.

For the most part, I just experienced the consequences of moving, good or bad. I learned how to make new friends. And I learned that friendship isn’t forever, so you have to enjoy every drop of it while you can. I learned that being somewhere new doesn’t mean you’re alone as long as you’re with family. Treating where you live as if you’re just passing through allows you to live like a tourist in your own town. There’s no expectation of “well, next year I’ll check out that festival” because you really never expect to be there next year.

There were definitely some things I missed out on learning though. I’m not that good at fighting for my friendships or making them work long-term. I don’t really know how to settle down without the expectation of leaving. I’m not going to say I learned to run away from my problems, but I did learn that problems stick with you as long as you’re holding on to them.

But now that I’m on the side of making the decisions about whether or not to move, I find there’s so much going on behind the scenes, and I don’t even have kids to worry about (oh, my poor parents). For once in my life I’m seeing the value of hitting the open road. And maybe what’s really important is the change, not necessarily what’s at the end of the map. I’ve learned today, that sometimes just getting in the car is the step that needs to take place.

I have no fear of the destination, or lack thereof. Every city has amazing places to visit, every church has some incredible lessons to teach you. An office will always come with some fun new challenges and some frustrations. And friends can be made anywhere. Every destination is a good destination. And every journey ends somewhere.

Give it Up

There are many moments in our life where we feel like giving up. Some times are simple, like a game you’re never going to win even if you keep trying. It can get a bit more serious, like a friendship with someone who is selfish and never takes you into consideration. There are also the big moments, like quitting a job, deciding to file for divorce, moving away, etc. And some people even get to the point that they want to give up on life. For the record, I never encourage this one. Never give up on life.

I have a hard time giving up. I will often stay waiting for hours for someone because I’m afraid that as soon as I walk away, the person will arrive. I hate that thought of missing something amazing because I walked away a minute too soon. I’m not sure where that particular fear comes from but I’ve lived with it for a long time.

I think this way on so many topics. What if I walked away from this person, and they were just about to change? Or what if I give up on this project right before the committee decides to adopt it. I guess that’s me living in the land of “what if” and letting it control my life again. This is a dangerous way to live. I keeps too many of us in bad situations because of how they may some day change. Don’t give up too soon, sure, perseverance is incredible important. But perseverance for the sake of perseverance may not get you where you want to be.

There are moments to give up on some things. I have always grown up holding tight to my memories, because somehow I thought that a moment wasn’t worth living if you weren’t going to remember it anyway. But in the last few years I’ve learned the value of giving up negative memories. Yes, negative moments may have helped shaped you into the person you are, and maybe you should never forget the lessons that you learned as a result, but you don’t need to hold on to memories that hurt you. Give it up. Some habits or traditions are in your life for no good reason. If they’re not there for a good reason, they probably shouldn’t be there. Give it up. Some things if your life might be doing damage.

Maybe, just maybe, learning to give up the small things to make a better life for yourself and those around you will give you the courage to give up the big things that are holding you down.