Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward
The photo attached to this post is part of my blog header. I took the photo in March 2011 when I was in San Francisco for an international educator job conference. The worlds are two pieces of chocolate sitting on the desk in the hotel room. I went to that conference with high, high hopes of moving forward with my career, forward with my dreams, forward with my life. And I walked away with so, so little.
When I look at this picture and the quote I attached to it, I remember how much I was looking forward to moving forward at that time. I proceeded to feel stalled for the following 7 months.
Yet, when I think of that trip I feel like it was a giant leap forward on a personal level, if not on any other level. This is what I wrote on my way there:
As I travel to San Francisco for the first time, so many things are flying around in my head. For one, the way the sun rose through the clouds this morning on my flight from Dayton to Minneapolis. When it rises from the ocean, the blazing sun makes no apologies for its entrance – it’s bold, bright, quick-paced, and starts the day with fervor. This morning, rising above the clouds and layering itself in between a floor and a ceiling of gray, the sun came about quietly, as though to ask “Should I be up here?” I certainly welcomed the sight, but the daintiness of its rising was something I am unaccustomed to.
Now here I sit, on my way to San Francisco for what may or may not be a life-changing week, and I am basking in the sun’s presence above – once again – the gray clouds of winter. I have seen the sun approximately four times since New Year’s Eve – that’s four times in 35 days. The plane cooled through the cloud cover, but as soon as we went beyond the clouds, there it was again: the sunshine, my favorite piece of weather, staking its claim in God’s vast sky.
I talked to my dad this morning because I butt-texted him, and he was confused by my message – rightfully so – and in the middle of one of my excited sentences he said, “You love traveling.” It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t incredulous, just a fact. I love traveling. I love talking to different people and imagining their life story beyond what they share. I never mind the hassles, for example having a mechanical problem with one plane and having to walk to the other side of the airport – from where I had just walked – to board a different aircraft. I don’t mind the lines, the buzz of conversation around me, the jet engine noise on the plane, or sitting in the aisle and having my head bob around embarrassingly while I doze on and off.
Everything is part of the journey, and for everything it offers, I say “Okay”, and move along. Traveling is often where I feel most at home, so I would say that right now – thousands of feet in the air and two years from the last home I’ve known – I am restful, content, and ready for the next adventure in my life.
I have spent the day in quiet contemplation, almost afraid to approach God in prayer or in general conversation. I have been sensing a transition is on its way, and what if it comes this week? In the form of an overseas school counseling position? I will have to put into action all the big dreams I’ve told people I have. Because I do, have them I mean. But having them and acting on them are two completely different things.
I have also had one other image in my mind for the last couple weeks. With the background of “Wide Open” (Sugarland) lyrics:
Every life has a moment where sweat meets fate
On your mark get ready get ready now
Gonna find out fast what a heart can take
Come in closer oh come feel the love on the inside
Electric current in my veins
Lets me know I’m alive
I’ve seen myself running in place, with my bent arms moving in a circular motion as I get ready to run a marathon. But I haven’t heard the GO siren yet; I’ve been waiting for that shotgun, waiting for the cue that I am allowed to run, allowed to race, allowed to reach for what my heart has been asking for since I got back from Japan: adventure, togetherness with Greg in a world so completely different than our own, and a bigger way to seek God’s face, to learn His world, to learn His people, to love His people.
Amidst this image of wanting to start my marathon, I cannot help but think that this week might be that shotgun start I’ve been waiting for. Yet, equally unnerving is the thought that it might not be. It might not be what I’ve been waiting for, and then what? I not only go back to where I came from, but I’m out several hundred dollars and my effort will feel for naught; I will not only feel like a failure, but a bored, restless, depressed failure who doesn’t understand why she can’t just start her career already.
God has been prodding my heart for a long time in regards to this trip. I prayed about it, I was peaceful and confident when I booked it, and my heart has been more than ready this past week to embark on this adventure. Finally setting foot under the California sun, I feel God smiling, and I hear Him whisper: Get ready, Get set. Get ready, Get set. I’ve got you, don’t worry. Get ready. Get set.
Just waiting for the Go, God. Just waiting for the Go.
My GO came 7 months later in the form of a dream job in my dream state. It’s not overseas, but I have life-giving friendships, an inspiring church, and a sweet cat I never thought I’d fall in love with.
God moves us forward when He knows we’re ready. And that’s what I think of when I see this picture. We have the world at our feet if we’re willing to take it, and the journey forward to our dreams may be long and full of Stop signs and delays, but when we go after them we never have to worry about wondering “What if?”