University gave me the much-needed opportunity to break free from the teen years of sadness and insecurity. I’m not sure if there was a person in the world happier to leave high school than I was. When I think about those years in university, I remember healing friendships, high-quality mentoring and work I loved, and those three things worked together to take me to a place of peace and stability. I spent my early 20s in a bubble of optimism about the future. There were dreams, plans, visions, goals, desires. Everything seemed within my reach, the world was open, I could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.
I was going to spend my 20s in international journalism. Yes, I was going straight to the top, bypassing the toil of the police and city beats for the chaos and pain of Kandahar and Darfur. I was going to meet the man of my dreams. We would be married when I was 30, start a family, and I would leave my dangerous, adventure-filled life for him, boys, soccer balls and a minivan. I would cook and bake and sew and parent and teach for 20 years, and at 50 when the children were out of our home, I would turn my eyes toward the next thing, a life of outreach, service, ministry.
After re-reading that last paragraph, I wonder if I am better suited for writing novels than writing about real life.
So what happened? I moved to Australia at 23, and no matter how hard I tried, was unable to even get the most basic of journalism jobs. I did work eventually, some things I liked, other things I hated. There was a year-long trip around the world to the blue seas of Cape Town, the streets of Texas, the villages of Ethiopia and a little town called Geneva. I did meet the man of my dreams, at 27 not 30, we were married and had a son. We do have a stuffed soccer ball from Ikea. Small One loves it. There is no minivan. Yet.
The danger and adventure I searched for did not come from work and places as I thought it would. I found my thrills with God, learning to walk blindly, trust deeper and love stronger.
Is there any greater adventure in life than being loved and learning how to love?
I started my 20s in Arkansas as a freshman in university, dancing to Cher on a bridge in a small town and a meticulously-planned surprise party by friends from my dorm hall. I ended my 20s with Small One, Husband and his family as we planned my father-in-law’s funeral. I cannot help but see the stepping stones from one February 13, 10 years ago to this last one, and they are the stepping stones of a crazy love that held, healed, bound up, and released.
I do not start my 30s with the optimism of my 20s; my dreams are firmly focused on getting a full-night’s sleep. It wouldn’t change the world, but it would change my world. But if I could finish my 30s receiving more love and giving more love, and yes, if I could dream again about what is to come, if I could taste more of the goodness that can only come from the hand of God, I would consider that a decade well spent.