It’s 2016 and scientists still have not discovered a way to prepare college students for life after graduation. Two months in, and I still sometimes wonder if I will wake up out of this weird dream, but nevertheless, here I am. And I must confess that morning after morning, my heart sighs a little as God pulls me out of bed because another day has arrived where I feel directionless, purposeless, and mediocre.
A few weeks before graduation, a kindred heart shared with me the truth about graduation. She said, “There will never again be a time in your life where you aren’t expected anywhere, where you are not committed to anyone or anything. It’s complete unadulterated freedom—a great time for the Lord to work.” At the time, this statement seemed to me exciting and promising. It was a drink of water after wandering weary and exhausted in the desert. But now? Now that I am living that sentiment two months later, it is exhilarating terror. It is untamed, infinite, and possible. It is powerful and holy.
It has been months since I have taken the time to let my spirit pour out on paper, and even now, as I’m typing this, my hands quiver above the keys because I’m hoping for some kind of greatness to shine from this blank slate. And I think that is what we all expect after graduation—for greatness to shine. We expect life to take off in a full sprint, first to the finish line, but instead life takes a stroll. Life takes a stroll, and we wrestle with it, attempting to pull it along in any direction that is willing to take us somewhere else from the path we are on. I have been guilty of this, throwing myself into opportunities or ideas that could lead me anywhere but here, whether they lead to me fulfilling my dreams or not. It’s easy to justify the detours.
For example, I recently found myself on one of my midnight expeditions on LinkedIn looking for a job. I mentioned working for a school district to my roommate, to which she replied, “I have never heard you express interest in working at a school. Why now?” I popped off a few reasons as to why it would be a good idea, and needless to say, all of them reflected a lack of trust in God.
One thing I have learned in life after graduation is that it takes more courage to say ‘no’ than to say ‘yes.’ It is easy to jump into opportunities because (ironically) they are safe or good or convenient because anything feels better than doing the “same old, same old.” But I think sometimes the world needs to hear my “no” because Jesus wants me to wait with him. On life’s stroll, He has decided to sit down on a bench and He wants me to sit down beside Him. This is my time to delight, to dwell, to rest. And these things—delighting, dwelling, resting—look differently to me now than ever before because I’m in a different place than I have ever been before. But I need to trust that this place is good because He is good. He loves to work in these still moments.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23
Waking up, I fight the feelings of mediocrity, and purposelessness. I pray for the grace to see Him, sitting next to me on this bench, and I pray for the desire to ask what we are going to do today, trusting that whatever we do will be a part of a bigger picture that I can’t fully see yet. I pray for the humility to savor the moments of sunshine and laughter and quiet stillness on this bench, and I pray for the courage to journey on when we arise and continue walking because I know it will be messier, more challenging, and further than I have ever walked before.