I wrote this over a year ago, but stumbled across it today. Here’s a piece of my heart for you to read. This is why I stay, even as everybody around me goes.
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I want to be a stay-at-home mom. And I don’t mean that being a stay-at-home mom is my back-up career for when I’m done working in the office or traveling the world or pursuing my dreams. No, being a stay-at-home is my dream. It’s not my back-up plan; it’s my plan A. And not only do I want to be a stay-at-home mom, but I also want to be a stay-at-home mom who stays.
Unlike the adventurous-types who pack their bags for Europe after finishing college and have a bucket list consisting of thirty-nine countries to see before they die, I don’t want to go anywhere. I have no post-graduation traveling plans. I don’t have a long list of places to see and things to do. I’m getting ready to plan a wedding with the man I love in the city I love, and we want to build our home here even while knowing many around us are getting ready to leave.
Honestly, a part of me does want to see the world, but not as much as I want to make roots. I know this desire of mine isn’t glamorous or popular, particularly within this young generation that is busy planning study abroad trips, road trips, and mission trips. But this desire of mine… is mine.
When you’re the one who stays while everyone else goes, they’ll make it seem like you’re missing out on a grand adventure. But sometimes making roots in one place is where you feel led, and that is a grand adventure, too.
Traveling is scary and freeing and breathtaking, but sometimes so is waving everyone goodbye as you keep your feet on the ground and return to the home you’re building. Following your dreams can be the journey that changes everything, but sometimes so is letting God move through you and around you in one place and under one roof.
What a humbling act staying can be, to sit back and watch others fight lines at the airport while you fight battles within the home. You know your life won’t be as popular on Instagram as the cups of tea in India and the chapels in Italy. You’ll be buying diapers and insurance as your friends buy tickets and handwoven scarves. Staying is a humbling act that often comes with doubt and heartache when you know you won’t get the same cheers and encouragement for chasing your dreams as they do.
But when you want to make those roots as I do, you still make those roots because you know in your heart where you belong. And when the world tells you that you’re wrong and there are things waiting to be discovered, you will fight to hold on to the peace that comes from knowing you have a home too good to leave. It’d just be waiting for you to come back. You will fight to remind yourself that they might have a calling to go, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a calling to stay.
Faithfulness to who you are is a beautiful adventure, no matter where it takes (or doesn’t take) you. You are still on a mission, an arduous journey that is filled with bumps and bruises and beautiful blessings.
For those who want to leave, you have my blessing. I understand the deep longing to see and taste the world. I know that as you step foot in foreign lands and breathe in foreign air, you may very well find a second home that brings tears to your eyes when you know you have to leave. You’ll meet people you will never forget and your heart will ache every time you remember. You’ll come home and tell the ones who stayed all about the trip and you’ll feel like they just can’t relate or don’t really care. You’ll plan to leave again and count down the days until you do, yearning for that adventure just as you yearn to live.
For those who want to stay, you have my blessing. I understand the deep longing to settle down and make roots where you are. I know that as you build a routine and pass the same sights, you may very well discover a feeling of belonging that brings tears to your eyes when you think about leaving. You’ll form relationships with people you will never forget and hopefully keep them through the years through tears and trials and pain. The ones who left will come home and you’ll tell them about your family and your fulfilling job and you’ll feel like they just can’t relate or don’t really care. But you’ll plan to stay and count all the sweet memories you’re making at home, continuing to yearn for the adventure you wake up to each day just as you yearn to live.
I’m not afraid to admit that I’m often wrong. And I’ve become even more so aware of just how wrong I am since starting college two years ago. There are a lot of things I believed and held on to for years without realizing the lies that they were.
I think it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come despite your mistakes and wrong judgments, and so this is my attempt to put a few of those things on paper (metaphorically speaking) just to remind myself of how blissfully wrong and ignorant I truly was. You live and learn, right?
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MY VERY INCOMPLETE LIST OF THINGS I WAS WRONG ABOUT
1. I was wrong about there being “the one”
It’s such a beautiful thing to believe that God has that one person out there you are destined to be with. But here’s what I’ve realized: you choose who you love. God doesn’t force you into the life and arms of anyone. There’s no such thing as “the one.” And that might sound blasphemous to some, but that’s what I’ve come to realize. To believe that God has that one special somebody out there for you is to believe that love is a chore you will be forced into. And true, you might not mind the idea of forced love because you’ll “live happily ever after” with this person, but that’s not how it works. Eventually, the fairytale feelings wear off and you’ll be faced with the fact that you can fall out of love just as surely as you can fall in love.
Love is a choice.
It’s a choice you make daily.
And sometimes you realize you chose to love a liar or a crazy or a backstabber or someone you just couldn’t work things out with. But nevertheless, you chose to love that person, and I think that’s a pretty beautiful thing. I believe God does not judge a person for the people they choose to love. Obviously that choice should be made wisely and if it’s a relationship that isn’t good for you, then maybe God will intervene. But sometimes He doesn’t intervene and He just lets you figure out how hard and difficult choosing to love really is. And then from there, you might decide to choose to love another. It’s okay. That is how things often go and God’s grace allows us that ability to choose.
I believe perfect love casts out fear, and because of God’s perfect love for us, we don’t have to live with the fear of missing “the one” or messing up our destiny. We are free to love and to live, and that sounds like it brings a whole lot more glory to God than just sitting and hoping “the one” will finally make himself known.
2. I was wrong about me not being like my parents
It’s very common to hear people say that they never want to wake up and realize they are just like their mom or just like their dad. This is a very real fear: the fear of becoming our parents. And then there are the people who deny being anything like their mom or dad, in which case that fear doesn’t even feel relevant. We’re just from two different worlds, they say. I used to agree.
But alas, I’ve come to realize that I am a lot like my parents. I’m a whole heck of a lot like my mom. And that sounds pretty terrifying (I mean, have you met her? She’s can be pretty scary…), but it’s also one of the coolest things.
Being like your parents means that as you make choices or even make mistakes, you’ll find some level of understanding (because quite often, they have done the same things). Being like your parents means that as you grow up and move out and start your own family, you’ll still know where your roots are from and you’ll still have those reminders of who you are.
And you might not like who your parents are, but that’s tough luck. They’re your parents. I don’t think God made a mistake by placing you in your family. Even if you absolutely dread the idea of emulating some of their wacky traits or unpleasant behaviors, there’s still beauty in the fact that you can emulate some of their best traits too. Sometimes those “best traits” are hard to find, but they are there.
They are beautiful creations made in God’s image, too.
I love that I’m strong-willed like my mom. I like that we both know how to be funny and be obnoxiously ourselves. One of my favorite things about being like my mom is that I know there is nothing we wouldn’t do for the ones we love. I first saw that in her and later discovered that same thing in me.
I denied being like her for so long, but I don’t dare deny it any longer. I’m not scared either. I’m welcoming the adaptations of her behavior that I’ll one day exhibit, and if I find that some of those things I don’t really like, then maybe I’ll find ways around them. No matter what, I won’t try to escape the reality that we are blood because it’s one of the most powerful things in our lives.
3. I was wrong about waiting for God’s signs
I once took this test called Strengthfinders that tells you what some of your strongest traits are. I was not surprised to find that my number one strength is connectedness, which is the ability to make connections between events or people or things. Which basically means, I don’t believe in coincidences. And that couldn’t have been more true because I used to be a very firm believer in signs.
But I now know that not everything in life will be lined with signs from God, no matter how hard I pray for one and how firm I am in not moving until I get one. There are some things you just have to blindly accept and do (in faith, of course).
Take college, for example. There was no sign that I belonged at the school I am at now. When I applied to this school, I didn’t even WANT to go. God didn’t send me some grand signs to confirm what I was meant to do or where I was meant to be. I just went. And it was upon going, that I realized it felt right. Yet still no signs. No confirmation. All I had was this gut feeling that something good would come out of going to school here, and that became enough for me. To tell you the truth, right now I feel like I could transfer schools and that would be okay, too.
There don’t have to be signs for everything, yet I was so sure that I NEEDED them for the longest time. I was afraid of making any decisions or taking any steps in any direction because I was so sure that I would end up outside of God’s will unless everything was confirmed (and then confirmed one or two more times after that).
I was wrong. Often times, you just have to make decisions and trust God is taking care of you. You have to go with your gut (the Holy Spirit). And if your gut isn’t leading you anywhere, that doesn’t just mean you remain at a standstill.
If you’re heading down the “wrong” path, you’ll somehow end up on the right one. And there could be various right ones. I don’t think God is so concerned with where you go to school or where you do missions or who you hang out with so long as you are glorifying Him where you’re at.
He DOES have a plan for your life, and you won’t end up tiptoeing around it.
You’re already in it.
There are so many open doors I took as fate, so many coincidences I took to be a message from God. But some of those open doors closed and some of those coincidences ended up being pretty insignificant. I used to think signs were all around, but I’ve just accepted that God shows me what I need to know and He chooses to keep quiet the things that I don’t need to know.
I’m in God’s will just by being myself, open to being used for His glory wherever I go. I don’t need signs to do that.
4. I was wrong about striving
I don’t mean that I don’t strive. Striving is good. It takes us places.
But all I cared about for the longest time was being better and doing better. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, like there was always something needing to be done to make God or people happy with me.
You know what I realized happens when you’re always striving?
You forget how to live.
You wake up and realize your mind is racing before you even get out of bed. You beat yourself up for days over things you should’ve done sooner or better. And worst of all, you end up ignoring God. When you’re constantly trying to be more or do more, you don’t have much time to let God speak to you in your stillness. Stillness doesn’t exist for you. His voice becomes more and more faint until you forget you’re even being spoken to at all.
I spent so much time trying not to waste my life that I ended up wasting my life. Not my entire life, but definitely important moments– moments I could’ve enjoyed, celebrated, or been at peace in.
I was wrong about striving. It’s good, but there’s a time and place. Eventually, you have to slow down and learn how to be still. A restful soul can be more productive than a restless one, and day by day I’m closer to figuring out what being at rest really means. I’m finally starting to live right.
5. I was wrong about college being easy
I entered college thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. I had gotten good grades all of my life and never had trouble finding or keeping friends. I knew that I was smart and pretty and sorta kinda cool so I figured I had college in the palm of my hands.
Boy, was I terribly wrong about this one.
I wish I could count the number of nights I’ve spent crying over this or that. Why don’t I have friends? How on earth am I going to get through these papers and finals? Why am I even majoring in this? How do I go to these functions without knowing a soul?
I thought college was going to be easy, but it actually is a cold slap in the face. Wake up, folks. Life IS hard.
Despite the difficulties of maintaining my sanity, it’s not impossible either. I know I’ll graduate. I know I’ll survive eating lunch alone. I know I’m loved and I’m not ugly. I know God has a purpose for my life.
Yes, college is hard, but it’s through those meltdowns that you begin to peel away the naive beliefs you had so cozily camped in all your life. And once all the naivety fades away, you begin to be able to REALLY face life head-on.
It can turn you into a cynic, I admit. But it doesn’t have to.
It can make you stronger and braver.
I’m glad college isn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. I wouldn’t have grown into the woman I am today if it was. We need challenges, and college certainly is one.
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Like mentioned before, this is in no way a complete list of my wrongness. I’m a human being and naturally have flaws, and I can’t possibly capture all of that in one blog post. There’s a dozen more things I could add to this list, and by the time I finish writing the list, I’d probably have a few more things to add.
Being wrong is okay. It means we’re normal and relatable. It means that we have the capability to grow and learn. We need to be wrong every now and then so we can discover just how awesome the truth is.
In conclusion: Be blissfully wrong, my friends! Embrace your ignorance! We all do it.