Roller coasters are by far my favorite amusement park ride. I love alternately giggling and screaming my way through the twists and turns, especially while upside down. Walking up to any given coaster, I can have some idea what to expect of the ride, but it’s impossible to know what it will actually feel like. Trusting that I’m safe, I buckle up and go for it.
Rarely am I that brave or trusting in my everyday life, even with the knowledge that God promises me both His presence and provision. Real life sometimes happens faster than I’m comfortable with. Days spill into nights that tumble into weeks that cascade into months. Suddenly, things that were once far off are upon me, often before I feel ready for them.
I currently find myself 36,000 feet in the air somewhere between DC and LA. In my backpack under the seat in front of me is a folder of information I need to read for the grad school program I’m starting in August.
Wait…what??? When did that all happen?!?
Neither of these adventures were on the horizon at the beginning of this year. This is a significant detail because I’m generally a planner, not so much a hoper or a dreamer. If a thought or idea seems illogical, impractical, too hard, too scary, or might possibly inconvenience anyone, I generally kill it off. I don’t give it room to grow or tell anyone about it. And it’s pretty rare that I act upon an idea before I have the practical details worked out and a backup plan (or five) at the ready.
God knows these things about me — how I think and operate, the patterns I have of doing what I’ve always done. But I’m realizing lately that He’s not as invested in my usual ways as I am. He’s actually been pretty clearly inviting me to different ways of being and doing. These new ways feel a bit out of character for me. And I think I’m beginning to love that.
Over the Christmas holidays and into January, the idea of pursuing a counseling degree started gaining some traction in my heart. This wasn’t a new idea, but it was new that I started paying attention to it. And praying about it. I said it out loud to a few people I really trust. And I started to sense that this was a direction God was leading me in and that it was something I wanted to do.
All the temptations to shut down that desire were there. And they still are, even after I’ve been accepted and have paid my deposit. Grad school is expensive. Taking on student loan debt still feels scary. It has been 17 years since I was last in school. I don’t know how to work full-time and go to school. I’ve never taken an online class before. It’s going to take a long time. It is overwhelming to think about the privilege and responsibility of coming alongside people in difficult and tender places in their life. My life will have to change and I don’t know what it’s going to look like.
That’s how I got on this plane in the first place. My brother and his family moved to New Zealand last year. I was supposed to be visiting them with my parents over Christmas this year, but grad school changed that plan. Now it’s a solo trip around the globe to spend time with them before I start school. It feels impractical and perhaps just the slightest bit irresponsible to spend the money on this trip with school costs looming, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be than 38,000 feet above somewhere on my way there. I can’t wait to see my nephews (and their parents)!
The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster. Life today and in the months ahead is shaping up to be very different from the normal I was expecting. There are probably more unknowns than knowns. But I feel God inviting me to lean into Him and enjoy the ride, even when I’m scared.
Becky Lehman is a lover of people, everyday adventures, and building community wherever she is. After 16 years filled with 7 jobs and 9 apartments in 4 East Coast cities, she is happy to call Richmond home. She enjoys being outdoors, cooking and grilling for anyone who’d like to be at the table, arranging flowers, and writing at beckslehman.wordpress.com.