Too much waiting, not enough living.

by - April 06, 2011

Sometimes you have to stop looking for permission from everyone else to pursue your passions. If you wait for divine inspiration, you may spend your whole life waiting.

When I started grad school, I read an article talking about the fear of starting. Some students dove right in, making corrections and alterations to the plan as they went, some stood at the edge of the pool assessing every ripple in the water before jumping in.

Guess which I was.

If you guessed I was the one frozen at the side, you were right. I waited so long and planned something so big that I had to change form a Masters degree to a Ph.D. As a kid, I was the same way. While the other kids would try a new game with the parachute, I'm told I would stand off to the side watching until I was certain that I could do it to satisfaction. I had to be given permission to smile (hence "Pocket Smiles") at the beginning of the school day.

This is totally inconsistent from my daily rhythm. We fly by the seat of our pants, going to the park on a whim, texting friends last minute to attempt a get together. Yet these are no more than hour long commitments at most. When it comes to committing to bigger things, I freeze.

That was I froze until I read this post by Austin Kleon that my friend Christian shared on Twitter. The words that prodded me the most:

If I waited to know “who I was” or “what I was about” before I started “being creative”, well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are.
Personally, I think so much time is wasted in our young adulthood deciding what we will one day be instead of just getting out there and living. Followers of Jesus can be especially guilty of this, when the Bible already has made it quite clear what we are made to do while on Earth - make much of Jesus.

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism and my brother's highschool's motto, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Enjoy God. What a foreign concept that seems to be. So what do we make of these hobbies and passions and talents? Use them to glorify God and enjoy him. Of course, you could always sit around with a stack of career, personality, and spiritual gifts tests and survey all your friends on a monthly basis to see whether they feel your life is headed in the right direction...

I also liked his take on "fake it 'till you make it." For me, this translated to instead of waiting until I have enough experience to qualify me to write on gardening and upcycling projects, for instance, go ahead and write about it. No, I don't have tats, piercings and funky-rimmed glasses to pass as a hip urban gardner, and I don't yet have gray hair and built in elbow rests on my hips to qualify me as a sweet old lady gardener, but I do have my own stories to tell. I certainly have enough experiential wisdom by now to tell people how not to garden.

Here's the thing - life is way too short to waste any minute of it, and it is far too long to sit around doing nothing, waiting on some mystical door to open. Our lives are the culmination of our daily choices as well the big direction-altering ones. If we allow ourselves to be immobilized by the latter, then there's a lot of living we are missing out on.

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  1. Great post, Paige.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. hey, i can comment!

    i feel an affinity with you on this post. there have been moments when i overthink everything -- circumstances, choices, & decisions. then there are moments when i'm proud to say i haven't. but, it is a part of my nature & one i need to quell at times.

    good thing i have people in my life to be an opposite action for this & i'm grateful for that.

  4. Sharon, hooray for being able to comment again! It turns out you weren't alone on being blocked.

    Thanks, folks.

  5. This speaks to where Mike and I are as we start to plan the next few years. Thanks for the encouragement.



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