Twenty Years & Tomorrow

People have been asking me lately if I’m excited for the next school year starting in August, when I will be living in Chicago for college. My answer is always an enthusiastic “Yes, so excited!”  And then sometimes they ask why.

That’s a harder question. I’ve been answering that it’s because I’ve been waiting and working towards this for two years. And that is true. And I am excited, for sure! But beyond that, I think I’m excited because I feel like my life is finally going to start in the fall. I’ve been waiting and waiting, and Chicago marks the start of everything I’ve been working towards, the start of the adventure and freedom I’ve always hoped my life would contain.

I’ve been realizing that this isn’t a very healthy view, or honestly very realistic either. I keep reminding myself that, although college will probably be wonderful and fun, it will still be school. It will still be hard and boring at times, and I’m trying to embrace this now so I don’t go in with unrealistic expectations.

But even more than that, the idea that “my life will start” when I get to Chicago diminishes everything that my life has been so far. And that is wrong. Every person that I’ve been blessed to influence in even the slightest way matters, tremendously. Those interactions and relationships are not nothing. And everyone who has been a part of my life so far, invested in me, loved me, cared for me and helped me grow, thank you. You matter to me, beyond what I have words to say.

My sister and I sometimes get way too into dorky chick flicks, and there’s this one we love where one of the characters says “A wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life. You have been dead until now.” But no, no, no, fictional wedding planner lady, you are wrong. Life doesn’t start when you get married, or start dating someone, or head off to college or get that job you want or any other number of future goals. Your life is now.

I heard a speaker recently talking about running the race of faith. He said “In fifty years, I want to be running harder after Jesus than I am today. I want to be able to look back and look more like Jesus then than I do today.” And I’m mentally nodding and cheering, like Yes, me too. I want that too! But then he said in ten years, he wants to be running harder after Jesus. In five years he wants to be running harder. In one year. And that means that tomorrow he has to be running harder after Jesus than he is today.

Woah now. Don’t bring it in so close, preacher. There’s some comfort in the distance of the future, some assurance in being able to think that “When this happens, that’s when life starts. When that happens, then I have to start caring.”  But that is not true at all. My life is now.

That makes me uncomfortable, maybe even uncomfortable enough to change. Where do I want to be in a year, ten, fifty? Who do I want to be? And why am I not starting to do and be those things now? I want to look like Jesus. I want to be chasing Jesus. And I can’t hide in the comfort of the distant future anymore.

Am I still excited for Chicago? Oh yeah, for sure. But I’m changing my answer for why. I’m excited because I cannot wait to see how God changes me more into the image of His Son and who He touches through me in my time there. And that starts today.

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