When I was a young man, I didn’t worry about the things I do today. I had a whole different set of concerns. As an adolescent and early-20-something, I was anxious about whether I’d ever make it to real, independent adulthood. There was so much unanswered. Would I marry? Would I have children? What would my vocation be? Most of all, I worried about finding my place in the world. What was the purpose for which I was born?
Maybe there’s never a complete and final answer to some of these questions. But over the course of the last decade, I’ve gotten a much better idea of what my life is to be, and who I am to spend it with. My longings and questions have been answered in strange, surprising, and marvelous ways. I’d be a fool not to realize how much I’ve been blessed. This life is fantastic.
Yet these blessings have not come without a price. I’ve found a community, a family, and a home. I’ve also discovered a whole new set of anxieties. As a young man, I was focused almost exclusively on what I could experience and discover. But now that I’ve gained so much, my attention is increasingly centered around the possibility of loss. Rather than an adventure to be risked, I’m tempted to treat my life as a fortress to be defended. Instead of embracing the gifts I’ve received, I often grip them tightly, guarding them from every threat (real and imagined).
That’s no way to live. I know this, because my 19-year-old self reminds me. I remember how he laughed in the face of challenge. For him, it was all about the adventure, the possibility. (Of course it was – he didn’t have anything!) My adolescent self was so alive, and vibrant, and fearless. It’s almost painful to remember having feelings that strong, hopes and dreams so ardent and bright.
Of course, my adolescent self also had a tendency towards selfishness and poor impulse control. He didn’t play well with others, and he came across as a know-it-all. These days, I may burn less brightly, but I have some perspective that makes me less difficult to live with.
Still, I yearn for the fire and passion I experienced when the world was just one wide-open horizon. I wonder, could I live with that kind of fearlessness again? With all the experience I’ve gained, with all the blessings I’ve received, how would it feel to live with nothing to lose? What would it mean to let go of my need to preserve and defend my comfortable lifestyle? How would it feel to fully trust God, to release my grip on life and trust that he will provide for whatever comes next?
I’m sitting on the cliff’s edge with my 19-year-old self, looking out at the horizon. Anything is possible, if I’ll just relax, take a breath, and let go. Here I am, Lord. Where do you want to send me next?