Welcome to From 3West’s second blog series: 21 Things I’ve Learned at 21. In September of last year, that was the title of a blog post, in which I listed out 21 things I’ve learned in my 21 years. My goal is always for my writing to be authentic and to write about where I am at. So, these posts will not be in order of my initial list.
Here's post #3 in the series, and #12 on the original list.
Dreams and plans change. And that’s okay. It’s a good thing, actually.
“I don’t do that anymore,” I chuckled at a friend who had just ask when my next sports article was dropping and who I was currently writing for.
On my way home later that day after that conversation, I passed a bench in the middle of campus. I smiled, because during my freshman year, I would sit there coming up with story pitch after story pitch and tearing through every ESPN Mag or Sports Illustrated I could get my hands on.
My freshman year, I was locked in and set on pursuing sports journalism. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, and I wasn’t open to anyone (including, maybe especially God) telling me that sports journalism might not be it.
I dove in my freshman year and got tons of experience. Which I’m so grateful for. But I remember getting deeper in and realizing I didn’t love the culture of journalism. And that the sports world still has part of my heart, but it’s a different beast when you’re working in it.
I remember walking out of one of my journalism classes one day, running to the bathroom and crying in a stall. Because I felt it like this might not be it, but I didn’t know what else I would do.
I knew and still know that I want to write for a living. But at that point, sports journalism was the only capacity I allowed myself to dream about writing in, maybe subconsciously blocking out every other option because I wanted this so badly. Even if part of me felt off and like this might not be it.
I walked into college saying: “I will not be the kid who changes her major.”
Guess what? A year in, I was that kid.
And I was scared. I felt my dreams changing, and I didn’t have a concrete answer to what my “dream job” was. Frankly, I still don’t think I do.
I’ll tell people that I want to write and tell stories, that’s all I know for sure. I’ll tell people that sports media isn’t totally out of my options, I could maybe see myself working in healthcare communications or even ministry.
Or I’ll just be a writer, trying to piece together books or something, broke and living in my parents’ backyard, in a tiny house. (Kidding, Dad.)
But the not having a concrete answer to “what’s your dream job?” anymore, really scared me at first.
Does it still scare me sometimes? Sure. Absolutely. Especially when I have moments where I realize how fast college is going by.
This semester, we’ve been studying 2 Timothy in bible study. One theme I’ve seen in Paul’s letter to Timothy is him constantly reassuring Timothy that God will prepare him for “every good work.”
As I’ve wrestled with not knowing what I want to do exactly and what my life is going to look like, I’ve found comfort in two things:
God will prepare and is preparing me for whatever he has planned, and I can rest in following his will for my life. Meaning it’s okay that I don’t have everything planned out, in fact, it’s impossible for me to plan everything for my life out.
Which, now that I’ve wrestled with it, is comforting. But that has definitely been a hard one to actually rest in. Because I am 100% a planner.
It’s been so convicting as God’s taught me about resting in his will and plan. Because I’ve seen how my career isn’t the only thing I’ve tried to hold onto, white knuckled and not give to him.
I’ve done it with my medical situation, trying to tell God what he “needed” to do with every surgery.
I do it with my future relationally and as a whole, probably mostly giving into fear and insecurities. I tell everyone that I am destined and pumped to be the single, crazy dog lady. But when one of my friends stopped me mid-joke the other day and hit me with the “what if that’s not it?” I realized how much I’ve let fear overshadow that part of my life, and I’ve attempted to white knuckle that from God too.
I know I’ve mentioned him in a few blog posts, but Bob Goff is one of my heroes. As I was sitting in my parked car waiting for my PT office to open for my early appointment Friday morning, thinking about what I’ve been learning about my dreams and plans changing and finding rest in God surrounding that, Bob tweeted this:
“God is never as nervous about our future, or as concerned about our past, as we are.”
Dang. I cannot tell you how hard that hit home when I looked down at my phone and saw that notification, just as I was reflecting on how I it has been so freeing to slowly learn how to loosen my grip on my future and what I think I want.
Dreams and plans change. And that’s okay. It’s a good thing, actually.
Because it might just mean that you’re learning to listen to and rest in a dependency on God.
Welcome to From 3West’s second blog series: 21 Things I’ve Learned at 21. In September of last year, that was the title of a blog post, in which I listed out 21 things I’ve learned in my 21 years. My goal is always for my writing to be authentic and to write about where I am at.
Here's post #2 in the series, and #6 on the original list.
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose... forever.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a simple slogan entered my life and silently began to drive what I did and how I approached life.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the show. It is my absolute favorite.
When I found NBC’s Friday Night Lights, I was instantly hooked.
I have a concerning amount of Dillion Panthers shirts in my closet, and someone saying the words: “I’ll watch FNL with you,” is 100% a sure way to my heart, and a cure to any bad day I’m having.
I know that I love the show so much partly because I am my father’s daughter, and a sports fanatic. And I grew up on football.
But I know another reason why the show has my heart.
It’s because the motto of the team hits home for me. Time and time again, Coach Taylor will stand in the huddle of players and say: “Clear eyes. Full hearts.”
And all in perfect unison, his team returns with: “Can’t lose.”
If you ask me, the simple slogan is powerful and about so much more than just winning a football game.
It’s become something I live by. And something that keeps me grounded when the challenges of living with a disability and just life in general try to creep up on me.
Let me break it down for you.
Clear eyes: Possibly the hardest part of the motto for me. As I’ve fought with CP my whole life, I’ve seen how easy it can be to let the hard stuff and the untrue stuff fog my vision.
Even with friends and a community in Gainesville who have become a family to me and who love me so incredibly well, one of the easiest traps for me to fall into is believing the lie that I’m a burden to people. Time and time again, even obviously seeing the way these people love me so well, my vision becomes foggy and I worry about burdening them with my challenges.
It’s so easy to doubt any plan God has for me when I see friends getting married or landing their dream job. It’s easy for my vision to lose sight of trusting His plan and to wonder how much my CP is going to affect my relationships and my career.
The farther I move into life, the more crucial I find having “clear eyes” is.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Clear eyes to me, means that verse. It means setting my eyes on the things above. It means not letting things I can’t control trip me up.
It means trusting God.
Full hearts: When I think of having a full heart, I instantly think of all the people I love.
I think of my family. I think of the incredible friends I’ve made in Gainesville and how I’ve truly never had friends like them before.
A full heart is abiding in a God who loves me regardless of all my flaws and downfalls.
The things that give me a truly full heart, are eternal. Investing in God and people is eternal.
It’s joy that’s not affected by pain or circumstances.
It’s a hug from my dad that still feels the same way it did when I was five. It’s the way my mom and I have the best time together, always. It’s the way my brother makes me laugh until I cry.
It’s the way some of the most meaningful times I’ve had have been sitting on a dorm floor, eating cookies, talking to these people I’ve found in college, whom I don’t deserve.
A full heart to me, means having relationships with an eternal God and people who show and point me to him every single day.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Can’t lose: the formula seems simple. If I have those things, I literally can’t lose. No matter what this world throws at me, I just can’t lose.
If I keep my eyes and vision clear, fighting the lies that are way too easy to believe and depending on my God that is bigger than all of the lies combined, my life and my joy won’t be affected by my circumstances.
If I realize that things of this world won’t fill me up, only God and time with people who point me to Him will, my heart will never not be full.
If I live according to those ideas, I can’t lose.
If I live by those ideas, any challenges I face, like Cerebral Palsy, don’t take center stage in my life. They’re just things that I have to figure out a way around.
So, yes. A slogan from a TV show has driven a lot of how I live my life.
A simple slogan from a TV show is the reason and the way I’m able to smile through pain.
A simple slogan from a TV show is something that keeps me grounded.
A simple slogan, and a simple formula that in my human condition, is harder to follow than it should be.
But I’m thankful for the reminder and direction it’s served me through the years.
Thankful for a merciful God and incredible people.
So, with that, say it with me friends.
Welcome to From 3West’s second blog series: 21 Things I’ve Learned at 21. In September of last year, that was the title of a blog post, in which I listed out 21 things I’ve learned in my 21 years. My goal is always for my writing to be authentic and to write about where I am at. So, these posts will not be in order of my list. In fact, I am jumping in at #21 on the original list.
Things will happen in God’s timing, not mine. And I’m thankful for that.
I immediately gave her a look.
“But, rowing on a rowing machine or even riding a bike, that has to do more than just that.” I said to my PT, who just told me that one of the best things I can do right now is to just walk.
My physical situation with Cerebral Palsy (CP) is ever-changing. And right now, I’m faced with the question yet again: do I want to have more surgery down the road?
My tibia is still crooked on my left side. It’s causing my foot to drift in, which as you can probably guess, causes some tripping, especially when I’m tired. My doctor decided not to fix it last surgery because we hoped that with a fixed, straight femur, muscle memory would take care of my drifting tibia.
To some extent, it has. But not enough. So, in this last year of the two-year recovery, my primary focus has been training that foot to not drift inward.
I can wholeheartedly and truthfully say that I have gone hard in this most recent surgery recovery. I haven’t always been able to say that honestly in the past. But in the case of number 10, I have been determined, giving it everything I’ve got.
The rowing machine has become my constant companion, and I can go a long time on a stationary bike. The gym is honestly my getaway spot every week.
But as I talked to one of my PTs recently, I expressed how I’ve been thinking a lot about how we might have to go back in and fix my tibia.
She looked at me and said: “Keep working as hard as you're working. But I think one of the best things you can do right now on top of all you’re doing, is to just walk more. Focus on form, and train it.”
I, looking for the fast-paced and more fun solutions like my rower, didn’t like that answer.
When I’m just walking, slow and focused, I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. When I’m literally thinking about what muscle to fire next, trying to learn how to walk, I get frustrated.
But when I’m going fast on a rower or a bike, it’s not slow, and I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
So, when she told me I needed to do the thing that my brain dubbed as the “slow option,” I didn’t like that.
I didn’t like the idea of just practicing walking. Because I can’t control it as much as I can control how fast I row or ride. I mean, I could walk faster. But if my brain isn’t firing the right muscles, then the training won’t do its work... I knew that this meant going slow.
Going slow isn’t my idea of timing when it comes to improving my physical life.
I know I’ll never be perfect. But I’m determined to beat as much of CP as I can. And I’ve never wanted that to happen slowly. I want it now.
Living in this college bubble, I’ve noticed how big of a tendency this is for kids my age, or maybe everyone: we want things on our timing. And the timeframe we often have in mind is now and instant.
We’re in a constant state of thinking and worrying about the future and trying to figure out how we can control most of it.
As I talked to more and more friends about life and the future, it was interesting to see the different things that we all choose to worry about most. It’s fascinating to see how some things are easy for one person to completely trust God’s timing with but hard for someone else to give it to him.
I’m worried about my career and what I’m doing, while one of my friends rarely lets her mind waiver from: “God will put me exactly where he wants me.”
And then there’s possibly one of the biggest things people tend to worry about during college, relationships. For a lot of years, I told myself that a relationship and marriage wasn’t in the cards for this kid on crutches. Though I see my flawed thought process around this now, it is a lot easier for me than for some of my friends to say, “If God wants something to happen, it’ll happen,” when it comes to relationships.
My point is, everyone worries, and everyone worries about different things. As humans, it’s natural for us to want things on our timing. It’s natural to want control.
But as I just walked the track at the gym yesterday, thinking about which post to start this series with, it hit me that God invites us to “just walk” into what he has every day.
The fact is, he’s got everything already mapped out. And he invites us to just walk into his plan, because he’s already got a greater one than any of us could even wrap our heads around.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
It sounds so simple. And theoretically, it should be. But I’ve learned that trust and giving up control, even if we don’t truly have as much as we think, is tough. Even though the reality, again and again, is that God’s timing is always better and never-failing.
I think learning to “just walk” with the Lord and how to rest in his timing this year, will be a beautiful thing.
So, on the literal side, if any of my UF pals want to be my walking buddy, let me know. Seriously. I’ll be putting in some miles around that track.
But on the spiritual side, challenge one of this series is to rest in God’s timing and to just walk into whatever he has.
Even if it's slow. Even if it scares you. Even if it’s not what you want. Even if it’s not what you think you need.
The Switchfoot fanatic in me will leave you with lyrics from one of their new songs, Let It Happen:
Let it happen, let it happen
Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows
You can't make it get here sooner
Let it happen, let it happen
I don't hold what the future holds
But I know You're my future