As my final semester comes to a close, I have been thinking over the inevitable question, “what’s next?” Obviously I have pretty solid plans in place for China and graduate school, so I’m not spending a whole lot of time thinking about actual plans for the future. Instead I’ve been pondering something much less concrete. Lot’s of questions. What’s next for me, personally? Who am I going to become? Will I change as much in the next four years as I have in the past four? Will they be changes for the better?
The only thing that is certain is that things will change; I will change. I think that I’m becoming okay with that. And as far as the quote above goes, I’m not so sure that I agree anymore. I see the past more as a foundation for the future; right now, it’s the only thing solid underneath my feet. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to sit down right now and cling tight to the past. But I do think that the past contributes to our future more than we want to give it credit for. We can either let it hold us back (like an anchor) or propel us forward. I think it’s easy to think that we have to completely let our past go or bury it in order to move forward, but that’s just not how it works.
For me, this process of moving forward has been about embracing the things I love about my past and tweaking the things that need a little work. Sure, there are some things that we can let go of, but to completely let go of the past would mean letting go of who you were. I guess that’s the point that the quote makes, but I don’t think it’s right. Who you are now and who you will be is based off of who you were in the past, and I just can’t let that go. I can change certain things I don’t like and build upon certain things that I do like, but I can’t just let go of or ignore any of who I was in the past. The past itself is not an anchor–it’s all in how we handle it. We can hold ourselves back by living in the past, or we can embrace it and move forward. Ultimately, it’s my choice, and I like the sound of that.
This graduation announcement is one of the many drafts I went through before I finally created one that I absolutely loved. (The final draft is going out in the mail this week!) I have used most of my free time the past couple of days playing around with graduation announcements in Photoshop, and now that I am done I am realizing that creating and mailing graduation announcements means that graduation is SO SOON. It seems strange that there are only 10 class days left and a week of finals. I’m not so sure that I really understand what it will mean to be a college graduate, yet. I don’t think it will feel real until January rolls around and everyone is moving back in without me. I already have days where I get pretty emotional, so I cannot imagine what move-in day is going to feel like when I’m packing for China instead. Don’t get me wrong–I am stoked about China. To actually print, “Jessica plans to teach English in Beijing, China…” is thrilling and terrifying all at once. It makes this a reality. I am starting down a new path, and I can barely see the road ahead.
For the longest time, I was afraid that not being able to see down the path in front of me was a bad thing. I have wrongly assumed that having uncertainties in my future meant that I had chosen the wrong path. I know that I’m going to China, but I have no idea what to expect. I know that I’m applying to grad school, but I have no clue what will happen after that. Surely that’s a sign that these are the wrong choices for my life, a lack of confirmation from God. Well, I don’t believe that one bit. In the past several months, I have learned a lot about Christian liberty, and that has been, well, liberating. I have come to realize that I have the liberty to make choices in life that lead me down paths that I believe to be beneficial and enjoyable, as long as I seek to glorify the One who has made these paths for me. When morality and the law do not prohibit an action, God grants us liberty to make life decisions using the wisdom that He has given us. Even if I chose the RUF Internship or Teach for America, God would still use me. Knowing that makes it less tempting to question my decisions and ask, ‘what if?’