The most repeated phrase college students are questioned is, “So what’s next?” And of course, we ask ourselves the same. What is next? What will life look like in ten years? Five years? Who am I kidding. One year? Two months? And the most solid answer I can give is, “I’m still not sure,” because I’m still not sure. It seems a silly answer, I know. It seems to be a response which lacks depth, but I assure you holds far more depth than most would care to know.
You see, like most people my age there are desires and dreams; there are opportunities and doubts. There are visions and wishes and fears and expectations. And our advice givers tell us to be realistic and they mean well when they say, “when I was your age I was already doing (fill in the blank).” And speaking on behalf of my generation, this is daunting.
Mostly because we know it’s true.
And mostly because that truth scares us.
We live in a backwards kind of world. Where self-glory is rising and self-worth is disappearing. Where love is thrown across the room until someone fetches to return it. And even then, the percentage of returns is disappearing too. And as our generation is trying to figure out how to answer the, “So what’s next?” we are overwhelmed by how broken the world actually is. We are overwhelmed by the thought that we are too carry it forward. That’s what next and we are not sure we are the right people do it.
Graduation is quickly arriving and my answer is still the same, “I’m not sure what’s next.” But I do know that whatever life looks like in two months, one year, five years or even ten, I want to be living fully. To love even when it’s not returned. To be persistent and consistent. I want to live into who God has called all our generations to be. His. Because despite how hopeless our earth sometimes seems to be, there is still so much goodness in it.
As children one of the most frequently asked questions we received was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I had all kinds of answers when I was little girl. I wanted to be a preacher and teacher and writer. I wanted to be a racecar driver and an ice skater. I wanted to be a detective who solved the greatest of mysteries and I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to be a mother and a musician. I wanted to be a wife and an Olympic swimmer. I wanted to be loved and to be free.
Because no one says they want to be restless when they grow up. No one says they want to live in fear and live broken. No one says, “I think when I grow up I want to be confused, angry, and alone.” We have all lived enough life to know circumstances can cause our souls to live as if that is who are. And though that is not who we are, it can dictate who we become.
So these days as I search deeper into the, “What’s next?” I travel back to the, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And the only answer I can give is, “I want to be still.” With all the loudness and hatred and mourning in the world, my soul craves that. I just want to be still. Still breathing. Still living. Still loving. Still believing. When I grow up I want to be still in the Lord’s presence and know that even when I don’t have the answers, he does.
And so I end this with words to those of you who are still living restless and fearful and confused and angry and alone. Be still and know God is God. I have yet to become an expert on how to do this so I cannot give you solid application. But I can give you solid affirmation. For God has redeemed so much in my life. He has rescued and healed and loved. So even with the daunting of what comes with the unknown, I know he will not leave and he will not forsake. I know that what comes next and who I am to be when I grow up is protected in his hands. And what comes next and who you are to be when you grow up is too.
Sometimes, you just need permission to turn off the rest of the world and give yourself time and space to see that.
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations. Before the mountains
were brought forth, or ever you had
formed the earth and the world, from
everlasting to everlasting you are God.”