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the waiting game.

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When I first drove across the country by myself, I was literally quivering from excitement. To be on the open road, to smell the fresh air, to be a renegade running off into the horizon and leaving my past behind… it all seemed like a huge gift of freedom to me.

After the first hour of blasting trance music and singing horribly to 90’s pop, the car was filled with dead silence and I realized with dread that I had not escaped my past at all. In fact, I was drowning in it as I sat in that dark, depressing Honda Prelude. The term ‘baggage’ was underwhelming, to say the least.

I stopped by a rest stop in the middle of Wyoming and remember gazing at the rolling clouds, completely taken aback by the majesty of their size. Why didn’t they ever seem that big in California? Why couldn’t I get beyond myself and care about anything outside of me?

I’m hoping to share in a near-future post about what I’ve gone through since I left everything I was used to for years to finally move to a brand new city where I had to reset my life. I feel like the past 7 months went by in a blur, just like the fields, the buildings, and the people I zipped by on my 2300-mile trek. There would be moments where I would celebrate my newfound freedom, then others where I would be curled up in a ball as I sobbed my eyes out from mourning my losses.

The baggage hurts, no matter where I go and how far it is.

I stood under those clouds for a couple hours, unable to peel myself away. I’m afraid to lower my gaze, to behold the loads of crap I brought along with me, and I don’t want to lose that feeling of being in the presence of effortless glory.

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waiting {part three}.

Hi. 🙂 Did you miss out?

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“Have you prayed about it?” my friend asked me, brown eyes pouring into my soul like death by molasses. I began to nod, paused for a millisecond, and then resumed my bobbing.

“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure this is what I should do,” I answered, not realizing that I was continuing to nod and had not stopped.

“Pretty sure? But what did you feel God telling you?”

My head was starting to hurt from the world floating up and down before my eyes. And all I said was, “Yeah, pretty sure.”

To this day, I feel like someone pricks me at the bottom of my big toe when I hear the words “Pray about it” in response to grand decisions I need to make about my life.  It’s almost as if I get lazy at times to just pray and listen for God’s voice to instruct and lead me, and would rather have Him tell others to intercede and act as my messenger. On the other hand, it can come off as just a cop-out Christianese answer, and there are definitely people who have used this to get out of a situation.

Should I go to law school? Pray about it.

Should I quit my job? Pray about it.

Should I take this job? Pray about it.

Should I dump this guy? Pray about it.

Should I go to grad school? Pray about it.

Should I really consume this fat carne asada burrito at 4AM? Eat it.

I have ‘should’ so much over myself over the years that I often compare myself to a gigantic, walking question mark. Nothing is stable and committed, and friends even would joke that big decisions I made would transform into something different anyway, so for no one to hold their breath. I really did try though, and I really did try to pray about it. But what ended up happening was that I would quip up a few words asking God to reveal and to clarify, and all of a sudden, my prayer would turn into a report of what I was leaning towards and what felt right to me. It gradually became enough to simply tell God what my plans were, rather than sharing with Him all my doubts, fears, questions, and possibilities, then trusting that He knows it all and He has me. Waiting is embedded into the beauty of prayer, as is prayer within waiting. You cannot simply do one without the other.

It was exciting for a while, I have to admit that. Feeling that thrill about an opportunity rise within my throat like vomit, then acting on that on my own will and going off to my new adventure. I have had some really amazing experiences, and I’ve had some really horrible ones. But after so much of my life was invested into spontaneity and abandonment, nothing was rooted in my heart and as a drifter, I felt lonely frequently and felt unfulfilled in a frightening way. I would find myself in the wake of a concluded journey, wondering “What now?” and trying to figure out why I couldn’t even feel at home in the place where I lived.

I reflected the girl who cried wolf, the wolf being the looming NEXT BIG THING. I became guilty to share anything new with my dearest friends with the fear that they may roll their eyes and perhaps react the same way I did at times to my life, which is “Seriously?” And then a massive lie gripped me into submission, which was that nothing was permanent and lasting, and that just like the story of my life, nothing could possibly be forever and joyful.

I felt more alone than ever.

And as if by some cruel schedule, the vomit came up again. But this time it was very different, involving something significant that I later realized had been a longing deep within me for almost ten years.

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waiting {part two}.

Click here if you missed Part One.

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I am a terrible, terrible waiter.

Not that person who takes your order and delivers your food.

But that person who has to wait. For anything.

I needed to get out of Michigan, stat. Although there were very specific things about Michigan that I absolutely grew to love – namely my roommate Kristin, the largest cumulus clouds I ever saw, snow, and the cheese pretzels from our dinky cafeteria – there was a massive arsenal of things I could not stand. I couldn’t wait, so in the same zest one would acquire in jumping out a burning plane, I applied to Biola University (again, another miracle that a four-year institution would take me, but my sob story essays may have been killer) and got in. My poor Prelude had to endure yet another cross-country trip in less than a year.

Once I arrived back in California, I did not return as a changed, shiny girl. Instead, I was deeply bitter about a lot of wounds that I let fester, but that was another chunk of my life that I did not have any time for, and healing needs time more than anything. I became a bulimic of the new, consuming all that I wanted that would take me further and further away from the cowering, real me buried deep inside. We all know that even new things grow old, and that was when the purging would commence where I sacrificed everything that would remind me at all of where I came from and who I really was, leaving me constantly dissatisfied and alone. I even broke up with a kind boyfriend who was really trying to be there for me and genuinely cared for me, without a good reason at all.

My heart had become its own private island airport, where the only traveler whipping through the waiting terminal was me and me alone.

Biola lingered and trudged by like an ancient snail, and it had a strange similarity to its predecessor. I was antsy as a child could be and did the very best that I could to stay sane, which meant jumping from major to major, joining clubs and quitting them, taking an eclectic arrangement of classes, and working ridiculous odd jobs to keep me distracted from the looming possibility of any stability in my life. In reacting to the pure ecstasy of completing the college portion of my life, I hit the ground running and left for Europe for a few months (despite the flighty character of who I am, this was probably the best thing I ever did for myself), fulfilling my desire to disappear and take some time to breathe some newness into my bones again. Upon my return, my post-college, young professional life was no different and to this day, it’s amusing to review my resume because the only thing that all of these jobs had in common was that I never stayed longer than 1-2 years.

The punch line is that I also have not ever lived anywhere for longer than 2 years either. This brought me to a so-called philosophy: Why the hell should I wait for life when life never seemed to show mercy and wait for me?

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waiting {part one}.

I have been learning a LOT about waiting during this Advent season. I have been processing so much, but in doing so, one blog post became a few. So I hope you connect with it, friend, especially if you’re in a season of waiting expectantly too. Thanks for journeying with me.  — C

open-road2Well after my “dishonorable discharge” from high school, I took some time to nurse my wounded, bleeding ego. I was in a fragile, flighty state that forced me to consider some dramatic options about my life. I thought about joining the FBI (but discovered that my F-ridden transcript made me extremely unqualified), joining the Army (but realized that I was traumatized from academia and did not want to take any sort of test, ever), or joining my flame S at his apartment in France. Obviously, the latter seemed the dreamiest and I actually qualified for it, until a very short conversation that took place over the phone.

“I just want to sit on your lap and eat bread,” I sighed into my bulky Nokia cellular device, “Every single day. Doesn’t that sound good?” He laughed briefly, before answering, “Definitely. Then we’ll get married.”

Dead silence. “Carrie?”

I hung up the phone.

I remember sitting hopelessly at a church my mom forced me to attend as part of my “recuperation from sin.” An old Korean woman came up and asked me if I was going to college. I said no, because I was expelled and I don’t even qualify. That seemed to be my identity at that time: Unqualified. She shook her head at me and walked off, muttering something about the Korean heritage being shamed by my irresponsibility. Then an annoyingly chipper girl sat down next to me and advised me that I should attend community college and wait a couple years before transferring to a decent school.

“Even you will get into community college,” she emphasized, trying to be encouraging but instead coming off condescending and incredibly snobby. I acted like I didn’t care, and long after she had left, I suddenly felt angered. I didn’t want to wait two years. I was the most impatient person in the world, in fact. I wanted to leave that church, that city, right at that MOMENT. My soul instantly decided it wanted to depart, and go on an adventure. I obeyed, and ended up getting accepted to a small, private Christian university in the Midwest. In hindsight, that was a pretty good-sized mistake, but at that time as a brand new believer, all I could think was what a GOD-GIVEN MIRACLE it was that I was going to college and most importantly, I had my ticket out of there. Within the next three months, I packed everything that I owned and drove my ’95 Prelude 2,300 miles to Michigan.

Impatience may have been an understatement.