A million miniscule decisions in a line,
Why they brought us to this moment isn't clear, but that's all right,
We've got all night.
If you'd asked me last year what I would study in college, I would have answered "English." Always English. I've known I wanted to be an English major since I was a bright-eyed nine-year-old looking up to the college girls who would babysit us from time to time. They loved stories, particularly those contained between two worn covers. So did I. They loved writing about and talking about the books they read. So did I. They were English majors...
Little logic is required for the rest.
I'm not the most decisive person in the world: I'll say that upfront. I took dance as a seven-year-old, then gymnastics, and then dance again. I wanted to play piano like Beth March, draw like Amy March, and sew like my mother. There was even a period of time in my childhood when I was convinced I wanted to take up clog dancing. (That began and ended quickly when my interest turned to other fields.) But in the space of my brief life, the only years from which I can draw experience, I remained convinced (to varying degrees) that I wanted to write. Beth and Amy soon faded into the background, but Jo, my old favorite, remained.
How I love to watch you listen to the music
'Cause you sing to me a music of your own
As I cast out all these lines, so afraid that I will find
I am alone, all alone.
None of this should come as a surprise to you. I keep a writing blog, after all — it follows that I'd like to study English (or history, my second choice). The thought of pursuing this sort of Bachelor's degree is a comfortable thing in rosy youth when reality has not yet landed a pile of essays on your lap. At age nine, English did not yet taste of tone, thesis, or MLA citation. It was Story. As I matured a bit more and learned about the reality of enrolling in a university in the twenty-first century, I began to pull away bit by bit. The concept of working from home, turning my writing hobby into a real occupation, and learning by experience rather than four more years of formal education sounded promising. No more exams. No more technicalities. Just the business, verve, and toil of capturing the Story I'd always loved.
But there are still good schools. There are still good professors. They're rare, and you have to look diligently in order to find them because they're not so verbal in singing their own praises, but they're out there. And if I could learn under them to reach for excellence, was that not a good thing? Would it not be a priviledge to continue learning about the great books even as I began to write a few of my own? To engage in deep, provoking discussions? To strengthen my mind and sharpen my wit?
And then there's a small love, a nurturing love that rankles underneath all the rest. Something God laid on my heart before any thought of an English major had entered my mind. Something that hasn't changed in these twelve long years since I first considered it.
Reader, I feel led to be a midwife.
My dreams come in different shapes after all. I want to write stories rich with splintered fragments of truth, but I also want to witness those stories in a mother's sweaty brow and a baby's first lusty cry. I don't want to confine everything to the page. I thrill at the creative process involved in writing a good book, and I want to work where I am awed daily at the miracle of God's creation. To nurture, guide, and love. To shine His light in a new way. To give my life over to the Lord as softened clay, saying, "Do with me as You see fit."
Writing. History. English education. And midwifery. These are my crumpled dreams, and Lord, they are Yours.
Well, could it be that the many roads you took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story and for you to hear this song?
And your many hopes, and your many fears
Were meant to bring you here all along.
I've toiled over these thoughts for a long time. Junior year of high school is when you're supposed to have it all together in the areas of standardized testing (my worst enemy) and college-searching. You're supposed to know what you want to do with your life and you base life-changing decisions on that knowledge. Just one more year until we stand on that platform, caps in hand, and though we toss them out of jubilation and cheer for the uncertainty of the future, each heart beats a little faster because the clock is ticking and we still don't have all the boxes filled.
But we're crumpled as our dreams, and like our dreams, we're His. We need not worry about where God will lead us, because we know He will in His time. I may never publish another book: I'll still write. I may never assist at a birth or even deliver a child of my own: I'll still rejoice when I see a little one's smile. I may read and read my whole life through, and it may be the closest glimpse I have of Heaven. Our ponderings, our aching hearts, the restlessness that hounds us — He put it in us for a purpose. Don't give your soul over to anxiety, but give thanks in the season of uncertainty. The world is bent on discovering itself: I want to know my Lord. There are precious things I love, special desires I hide away in my heart, but they will not satisfy me unless they come from God.
We were meant to be right here all along.
*all lyrics from "many roads" by andrew peterson.