So when I set out on this challenge, the one rule I made for myself was that I wasn’t going to read anything I’d already read. The reason was simple: keep myself reading as many new books as possible, while avoiding the temptation of reading all of the Harry Potter books yet again.
Well, I didn’t quite keep up with that rule, but I’m actually more than okay with it. These past few weeks, I’ve turned to one of my most beloved books, Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, as a sort of devotional and a way to wake up to God each day. The first time I read this book, it was summertime and Shauna’s words were as new and as beautiful as spending a morning sunning in front of Fried Cottage, but re-reading it these past weeks has meant something even more. Chapters that were so very important to me last year mean something different looking back, while new chapters, stories, and phrases stick out to me today in ways they never did last time I read the book. Today, I particularly love the chapter Writing in Pencil, because it’s all about planning lightly, or writing our plans in pencil instead of ink. This means so much more to me today, four days from college graduation, than it did last summer when I didn’t have much of a care in the world. I’m encouraged, reading this chapter, that if God’s got control, it’s okay that I don’t, and that I don’t know what’s next. Here’s a little excerpt that keeps sticking with me:
This is my new thing: I’m going to write in pencil.
Life with God at its core is about giving your life up to something bigger and more powerful. It’s about saying at every turn that God knows better than we know, and that his Spirit will lead us in ways that we couldn’t have predicted. I have known that, but I haven’t really lived that.
There is a loosey-goosey feeling to the future now, both a slight edge of anxiety, like anything can happen, and a slight bubble of hope and freedom that, well, anything can happen.
I feel loosey-goosey today, in a really good way. Writing my life view paper these past weeks helped me realize how much I’ve grown and learned through these past four years, both at Hope and beyond in places like Colorado and Paris, and how blessed I’ve been to have the college experience I’ve had. I feel that I did college well, that I didn’t leave any cards on the table, so to speak, or things I wish I’d done but never did. So, because of all this, I feel at peace about the future, and I’ve got that slight bubble of hope and freedom bubbling up inside of me because I know that, since God is with me, anything can happen.
One other thing Cold Tangerines keeps reminding me to do is celebrate. It's a time of big celebration in my life, what with graduation and moving on to the next stage of life, but for some of you out there, it may not really feel like celebrating-time. But I believe that life is a cause for celebration, and I encourage you to take a second look at each day and see the beauty in it, because life is so very extraordinary!
When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that's celebration.