I’m guest-lecturing at Ohio Northern University this week. This afternoon, I’m speaking at an event for students who are undecided about their majors. The faculty asked if I’d talk about the ways in which my academic and career plans went right….and wrong…..and how I ended up on my current path.
When I asked them how long I have to speak, they said around 30 minutes, and I started to laugh. Because my story of things that have gone right and wrong is long and complex and beautiful and heartbreaking, and how do you say all of that in half an hour?
Some things have gone better, and some have gone worse, than I imagined. There have been some moments that I would pay to live over and over again, and others that I wouldn’t relive if someone offered to pay me a million dollars. There have been some really high up’s, and some really low down’s.
I have been disappointed, devastated and delighted.
I have been wounded and I have been healed.
I have been left by some, and deeply, unconditionally loved by those who remained.
I have sung and I have screamed and I have sat in silence.
I have laughed until the tears came, and I have cried until the tears stopped coming.
I have been hit and I have been hugged.
I have fallen in — and out — of love.
I have traveled to lots of cities and states and countries, and my transience makes me feel sometimes that I don’t belong anywhere and yet, at other times, I feel a profound sense of belonging everywhere.
Some things have exceeded, and others have fallen far short, of my expectations.
And yet, everything that has gone right and wrong and otherwise has led me here. Here, sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and my laptop in Ohio on a Sunday morning in 2016. Here, two-thirds of the way into my 37th year of life. Here, with a few regrets but mostly a heartful of gratitude. Here, laughing at the twists and turns that have brought me to where I am. Here, thankful for the opportunity to reach back to college students who are a few steps behind me on their life path.
The theology of how I got where I am today is a little murky. I don’t know that God has chosen this path for me (because, honestly, I don’t know that God chooses loss or cancer or pain for anyone), but I am confident that God has walked this path with me.
And maybe that’s the best news for me, and for others who are also walking through complicated, confusing stories with heavy hearts and misty eyes, straining to see an unforeseeable future.
God is not only for us. God has been, is, and always will be, with us.