When I was in sixth grade, I informed my middle school guidance counselor which college I planned to attend and that I was going to graduate a year early from high school.
They looked at my little, earnest befreckled face and said, “Our school district doesn’t doesn’t allow students to graduate early.” I smiled politely, folded my arms, and said, “Well, I’m going to.”
A few years later, I did just that. Somehow I had managed to land in a homeroom ran by the principal and superintendent of the school and talked their ear off non-stop until they obliged. The year I graduated was the first time they allowed it.
I have always had a plan. I’ve always had a goal. I’ve always known where I was headed, how I was going to get there, and what it would look like when I arrived. And in my head I would set these milestones along the way — “when I get to this point, it will mean I’m ⅓ of the way to my goal. When this happens, it means I only have this much further left to go.”
There is no way you can enjoy any piece of your journey when you are measuring and weighing and fractioning every single ounce of it.
I also would put what I began to think of as expiration dates on these plans.
If I didn’t reach those incremental goals by certain dates, I would begin to worry that I wasn’t on the right schedule and I wouldn’t reach my goal in the time frame which I had planned to, and to my slightly dramatic self I assumed that meant the world would end. Or at least that the plan couldn’t be carried out.
That’s simply a terribly ugly lie.
And while we’re on the subject of epiphanies (oh, you didn’t realize we were there — well, we are), I’ve been doing this in my relationships — platonic, familial, potentially romantic. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous but some of you probably are doing it too. So, listen up and let’s ask ourselves if we are doing these things and then we’ll talk about how we’re going to get to the other (healthy) side and enjoy walking this road together.
- Do you have a plan for your relationship before it has begun unfolding? (i.e. do you say “this will happen and then this and then WE WILL BECOME THE BEST FRIENDS THAT HAVE EVER BEEN AND PROBABLY SING THAT SONG FROM THE HANGOUT TOGETHER.”)
- Do you get upset if a relationship begins evolving differently than the way you imagined it in your head? (i.e. “But, Jordan [notice the unisex name], I thought since we hung out that one time at Bowl Me Over, shooting pool and eating pizza, we were definitely going to go on a date. I don’t know if I want to be just your friend.”)
- Do you impose expiration dates on your relationships? (i.e. “If we have not reached this level ______________, by this point ____________, THEN WE NEVER WILL, and I’m just going to walk the hell a way.”)
Be honest in your answers about those questions. I am and I want both you and I to listen up and listen well.
People are not dart games.
You don’t get to play until you get tired or bored or want to walk away because you’re afraid you’re going to fail them. There are reasons to walk away and we know what those are — when a situation is unhealthy. It isn’t because you’re afraid they’re going to walk away from you.
Stop worrying so hard about the end game and enjoy walking this road with the people God has sent across your path. I wrote this short prayer for you and I. I want you to pray it with me.
Give me the courage to let go. Give me the courage to walk on. Give me the courage to look love in the face and say, “I don’t know if you will show up tomorrow, but I’m going to celebrate the fact that you are here today.”
Today is November 15th. Today I’m saying goodbye to expiration dates and hello to love that is showing up. Today I’m embracing and cherishing each moment of the journey. Today is enough. Tomorrow isn’t here.