The Gradual

Post Grad Duck #25

I’m really thankful for friends. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling either. Since graduating college, my definition of friend has had to change. I wasn’t thrilled about it, and i’m still not necessarily super excited about it, but it’s been good. This new definition occurred because making friends post college is way different than when you’re in college. It’s a slower process. It’s more…gradual.

 

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts or know me personally, you’ll know how important it is for me to spend time with people; you’ll understand how much I value it; you’ll know that my friends mean the world to me. Now that I live in a different state than the majority of my friends, I’ve recently found myself wishing to be reunited with them. I long to sit in a lamplit room under the background of our favorite musical artists coming through the speakers, talking and laughing about whatever our minds wish. I miss driving around the familiar streets we all came to know and love so dearly. I ache for the moments where we all yelled “YOLO” because we decided to participate in a spontaneous activity that usually meant we were putting off our academic responsibilities. Everything was fun and fast and bright. We were thinkers, but only because we wanted to be, not because we had to be. It almost seemed like life happened too quickly to really think about it fully. Maybe we just thought quickly? I don’t know. Either way, my years in college were good ones.

Those were the days—”were” being the operative word, here. It’s past tense, referring to something that used to be. Bringing about feelings of nostalgia that are thick enough bite, the days of were are helping me to be thankful for the days of now. Soon enough the days I currently find myself in will be the days that I look back on and long for. It’s weird to think about, but it’s true. Isn’t it?

The change that took place in college felt so real at the time, but now that I’m no longer in college it’s all starting to feel nebulous in some ways. What did I know of a reality where I wasn’t surrounded by thousands of people my age doing the same thing as me all the time? I had a friend tell me once that college is kind of fake in the sense that the experiences you have are so specific to college (mostly) that post grad life hits you so much harder than you’d expect. Honestly, you actually don’t know how to handle it as much as you thought before graduation.

Currently, I’m living in the days where small change feels like big change, paying rent hurts more than it should, cooking a good meal feels like winning the lottery, and solitude is easy to come by. Mmm..solitude. I never thought I would value being alone as much as I do these days, especially considering how much I adore being around people. But in that same vein, I didn’t think that I would value intentional time set aside to talk with friends both near and far as much as I do now either. Both are good for the soul.

I was talking on the phone to a dear friend earlier today and he was explaining to me all of the exciting things that are happening in his life right now. “Gosh, so much has happened since we last talked…”he said as he tried to catch me up to speed on his latest news. He’s still in undergrad. I listened to his detailed list of occurrences. How wonderful to hear of the new opportunities that lay ahead for this friend of mine, how fortunate of me to be on the other end of this phone call. It’s exciting to share excitement with friends.

 

But I didn’t have the same news to share.

Are exciting things happening in my life? Absolutely. But it’s different than I’m used to. I remember while I was still in undergrad, my campus minister said “life slows down after you graduate.” The rate at which you experience and learn and grow while in college is not nearly as quick post graduation. I thought that was the weirdest thing because college felt so normal; however, here I am almost a year out of school and I find his words to be true. While my job involves spending time with undergraduate students and spending a lot of time on a college campus, my own life is not nearly as fast paced as theirs; it’s not nearly as fast paced as it used to be. I’m learning and experiencing and growing, but way more gradually.

And you know what? That’s okay. I said earlier that I miss my friends and the things that we used to do together, but I don’t want to go back to those days. If I could repeat them, I honestly don’t think I would. At least, I hope not. I do have my days where I’d give anything to be back in undergrad, but those are lessening as times goes on. Right now and right here is where I’m supposed to be—in the slow, the often mundane, the less exciting, the gradual…

I want to enjoy the beautifully unexpected conversations I have with my roommate when we both get home from work. I want to soak up the frustration of feeling like I always have to go to the grocery store and the gas station. I want to sit in the tension of being happily (for the most part) single and spending time biweekly with married women in a Bible study. I want to smile during the random hours I spend listening to music alone thinking about my week. I want to remember the diligence behind my scheduled gym visits. I want to roll my eyes and laugh at the fact that I’m STILL not good at folding my clothes and putting them away as soon as they come out of the dryer. I want to become more of a morning person and realize that 7am can actually be a wonderful time of day. Like I said, things are gradual… 😉

I hope to look back on these days and think fondly of them. I even hope I long to return to them. But I also hope that when I reach these future days, I’ll remember writing this blog post and be encouraged to keep moving forward. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ecclesiastes 7:9-10, which says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Say not,’Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

I love the fact that I got to catch up with a friend today, and I love that the resulted feeling after the conversation was thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for our continued friendship and the friendships i’ve maintained post graduation. I’m thankful for where I am. I’m thankful for where I was. I’m thankful for life’s current pace. I’m thankful that all of the feelings I have are okay to have.

I mean, life is hard, y’all, but life is so good.  Keep going.

[Jesus, thank You for this beautiful life. Thank you for where I am now and how You’re working even still, even in the gradual. You’re a good good Father]
❤ Amen

…yet

Post Grad Duck #10
More often than not, when people ask me a question, I almost always want to have an answer. Even if I’m unsure of what to say, I will almost always come up with something to say. I think this stems from my desire to be accepted by those around me.  Sometimes when I don’t have anything to say, I feel compelled to give some type of response because in that moment saying nothing seems ridiculous. But it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with silence. There is wisdom in waiting. It’s quite all right to say “I don’t know.”

As many of you know, I have moved from the southeast to the northeast. In many ways, it feels like I’ve left one world and entered another. Southern hospitality came to a halt as did the humidity I’ve grown to associate with home. Bojangles is long gone, Cookout is but a fond memory, and “y’all” is phrase of scarcity. And my reaction to it all? Well, I don’t know.

Now, here me when I explain. I am neither miserable, nor sad. The community I have entered has been nothing short of welcoming and full of love, but things are different. What routine I had established has been reinvented, slowly trying to find pattern. Habits native to the south are now only enjoyed via social media. I’m a little fish in a big pond. I’m learning how to swim on my own, away from the shores of biscuits and ‘bless your heart.’ There’s been a shift in my life and I’m discovering what it looks like to be Jayna in Pennsylvania.

What does it look like? Well, I don’t know…yet.
What I’ve known to be true about the culture of the people around me is different now. And that’s okay, it’s beautiful actually. There’s a loveliness in the air of the difference. My surroundings are different, but the ground upon which I stand is the same. And because of that, I can confidently say, “I don’t know.” I don’t have to know because Jesus does. Standing on the truth of His Word gives me the freedom to live and learn and try and fail and laugh and love and everything in between.

I write these words for myself, but also for anyone else that struggles to be patient. Transition is weird and sometimes it’s really hard. I write these words for anyone that is used to having a handle on things and being the one with answers. Confusion is real and it’s not fun. I write these words because there is so much to see and learn from the newness of your environment and from the people around you. I write these words because as Flannery O’ Connor once said, “I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Take heart, it’s okay not to know and wait on the Lord for the answers. You’re not alone. We can adventure together!

[Jesus, thank you for newness and your promise to always be constant]
❤ Amen

~ F I R E ~

Duck #49

Oh, fellow readers. It’s been so long since I’ve written. It’s most unfortunate because of how much I love writing…sometimes I have to be reminded of that. It’s hard to write for fun sometimes, ya know? I’ve been so busy writing papers upon papers for school. I’m graduating in 19 days, so there is so much that I need to finish. For example, the capstone I should be working on right now. But tonight I’m going to write for myself and then maybe write a little for my professor, but I’m putting myself first. *Insert the “desk worker” emoji that I named Tanya over a year ago.*

Tonight’s theme: I’m not sure, yet. We’ll see what happens as I write. I had a them and typed about 200 words and then decided I didn’t want to talk about that topic anymore. So here we are.

Life is weird, y’all. I think that when I was a little girl, I assumed that by the time I was 21 I would know all the things. Well, here I am at 21 and I don’t know as much as I once thought I would. Let me give you an example:
Earlier today, I decided to go for a run because that’s what adults do to take care of themselves. After my run I resolved to cook dinner because that’s also what adults do to take care of themselves. They exercise and they cook, I’m sure it’s in a handbook on adulthood somewhere. Well…as I was preparing my meal, as any mature 21 year old should be able to due, a piece of food fell under the burner and it started to smoke. I turned down the heat of the burner and turned on the fan above the stove. Naturally, that didn’t work because the piece of food caught on fire and a flame began to grow. In a state of panic, I started to yell “Fire! Fire! There’s a fire! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do! I ACTUALLY don’t know what to do!”

I just stood there. Literally. My mind went blank and I watched the flame blaze. I’m sure I looked pretty stupid just gazing at the fiery stove as if it were an art exhibit at a museum. Fortunately, 2 of my roommates were in the living room and they came to my rescue. Actually, one of my roommates turned off the burner and the other took a picture of me in all my frantic glory. We all laughed after everything calmed down and the burning smell dissipated. *Oh, I know what direction this post is going to go in now!* As the kitchen began to clear I kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I did this for two reasons: 1) Because I’m an ENFP & I can’t help but to apologize for things extensively. 2) I felt like I should’ve known what to do. I’m 21, I’m a senior in college, I know my way around the kitchen well enough. It’s not ridiculous to assume that I would know how to handle that situation. But I didn’t know…I needed help.
I wish that I could say that this post is really just a lesson on what to do if you catch your stove on fire, but it’s not. As I continue to type, I realize it’s deeper than that. It’s deeper because tonight’s little event has made me realize that there are a lot of things that I don’t know and that scares me. It scares me because I want to know them. I want to know them because I want to prove that I’m okay and capable. I want to prove that I’m good at x and therefore can do y.
They say that comparison kills, expectations crush, and I say that they’re right. But I also say that there’s nothing wrong with ignorance if you’re willing to learn. I don’t use ignorance in a negative way, but rather in the form of it’s true definition: a lack of knowledge or information. There are several things that I am ignorant of. Even as a 21 year old senior in college, there is so much I don’t know. There’s also so much that I think that I know, but actually don’t. I learned that this past week.

I’m really good at overthinking and overanalyzing just about everything. I do this because I allow my ignorance to guide me. With that comes a false sense of reality–I’m really good at creating monstrous situations in my head, when they’re actually small teddy bears that might have a ripped seam. But instead of being patient and trying to learn the information I lack, I make up what I think to be true and then act rashly on that. And that’s exhausting. So incredibly exhausting. And quite frankly, I don’t have time to be exhausted so often, ya know?

Altering ignorance doesn’t happen over night.
Altering ignorance requires patience.
Altering ignorance is a sign of maturity.

Y’all, I don’t know a lot of things. But I do know that I can’t keep acting out of ignorance. I’m about to be done with school forever and I’m scared and I really don’t know all the details of what’s going to happen after I walk across the stage. So, I’m talking to myself when I say this, but feel free to listen in:
It’s okay to not have all of the answers. It’s okay to take time to learn them.
It’s okay to be scared, but you can’t let that fear control you.
It’s okay to want to be competent, but that competence does not make up you’re identity as a worthy human.
God is not angry with you for being ignorant.
He wants you to seek Him first and glean His wisdom.
He begs you to look toward Him when you’re scared.
He yearns for you to be defined by His perfect attributes.

So, I don’t know, but Lord, I want to learn.

[Jesus, will You teach me?]
❤ Amen

Take Exit 31: Discoveries About Identity

Duck #45

I really want to know who Jesus is and I also really want to know who I am. I think that those are two very important things, because I think that identity is crucial to living. According to the dictionary app I have on my phone, the word identity means : who someone is; the name of a person; the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.

Who someone is.

I’m in this weird place, friends. It’s my last semester of college and because of that I’m trying to be fully present where I am, but also hope and prepare for the “what’s next?” segment of my life. As a 2nd semester senior, you hear a lot of “oh, how exciting!”, “are you ready to graduate?”, “enjoy this time!”, “plan for what’s a head”, “get ready!”, “relax!”–basically, you hear a lot. It’s awesome. It really is. When else am I going to be in a section of life that merits so many words to be poured into me constantly and consistently just because of the nature of the section of life that I’m in. I mean, I guess when I get married I’ll also be told a lot of things, but I don’t even have a boyfriend, so I won’t go there. 😛 My point is this: there’s a lot of words being thrown my way and it’s awesome, but it’s also very overwhelming.

Friends, readers, followers of my blog, you’ve gotten to know me over the past year. I’m a thinker, I’m a struggler, I’m a dreamer, I’m a lover, I’m curious. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned a lot about who I am, but I’ve also learned that I have a lot more to learn. I suppose I never thought I was done learning, but I thought I reached a point where I was cruising. You know, like when you’re taking a road trip and you really have to pay attention to the GPS, until it gets to the point where it tells you to stay on I-95 or I-40 for 80 miles or more. I thought I had at least 80 miles, but I don’t. My little GPS is telling me to change lanes, take exit 31 on the right, turn left at the light, and continue driving for another 3 miles before I have to make another turn.

So what does this have to do with identity and Jesus? Well, I’m not 100% sure, but that’s why I’m blogging. Haha. Because I’m sure that I’ll conclude something before I finish this post… 🙂 Let’s take a journey, shall we?

Learning about yourself is hard, is it not? It’s so good, but it’s so hard. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly trying to better yourself. You’re constantly trying to be the best version of yourself you can be and looking for affirmation in how well you perform or how well other people say you perform, but that’s exhausting. And quite frankly, I’m over it. But you see, that’s all I’ve known. I’m good at performing–really good at it. So, I don’t know how to not perform. I’d like to think that I’ve had glimpses and scenes and moments where my mask was off, my costume was on the rack, and I wasn’t reciting memorized lines. In fact, I know that’s happened. But when you’re not in the habit of being raw, when you’re not in the habit of speaking your mind, when you’re not in the habit of freedom, it’s really hard to try and be raw, speak your mind, and be free. That is, to do these things so freely, a type of freedom that you can’t foster or create.

I find my identity in my performance. And that’s hard for me to admit for several reasons.
1) Because I’ve blogged about it before
2) I feel like I should be over that by now
3) If I mess up my performance, I feel lost…

But here’s the thing, just because I find my identity in my performance does not mean that my identity is my performance. My dictionary app said that identity is: who someone is; the name of a person. As a Christian, my identity is: daughter of God; righteous (2 Corinthians 6:18), co-heir with Christ; holy (Romans 8:17),  beloved; redeemed (Ephesians 1:7). And you see, what I fail to remember is that the identity I’ve been given through Christ isn’t like the identity I’ve gained in the world–it can’t be stolen. If someone takes my Bible, I don’t have to go to the police and explain what happened, or tell the bank to cancel my debit and credit cards. The identity given to me by Jesus is permanent, it’s constant, it’s always.

Okay, awesome. Great! That all sounds wonderful, right? But why is it so hard to remember? Why is it so hard to grasp and believe? Well friends, I’m figuring that out. Because believe me, I get it, it’s not easy to own up to your identity, especially when the words “prone to wander, Lord I feel it,” seem more true than ever. But here’s what I think, and this may or may not be be true for you–it’s hard to understand our identity because it wasn’t ours from the start, it was given to us. And when we receive it, we latch onto the title because it’s beautiful. But as we learn about the title and what it means, we realize how much we don’t deserve it. So we question it, we doubt it, we don’t believe it. We latch on to the good and completely forget grace, we ignore the Giver. At least, that’s what I often do…
A.W. Tower said, “what comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Because Jesus died, took our sins, and in exchange gave us His righteousness, our identity became His. Y’all our identity is Jesus. So, what comes to our minds when we think about our identity is the most important thing about us.

Jesus loves because He loves because He loves because He loves because He loves because that’s who He is.
I’m learning that. I’m learning about who He is and about who I am.

So, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, would you reveal yourself to me, to us? Would you show us Your character? Would you drive us to know You for the sake of knowing You and through that would you help me, us, to understand who we are?
<3Amen