Recently I wrote on my facebook status, "I love my life." It's like this revelation hit my heart: I am abundantly blessed! Just two years ago, life was drastically different. On a typical day, I would drag my tired body out of bed at 7am, go to work for a few hours, then drive to my counseling internship in Everett and generally work another 4-7 hours (depending on whether or not I would be sitting in an evening class for 4 hours in Kirkland), and spend the last few hours of my night at a coffee shop studying, after which I would drop into bed some time after 1am, ultra-caffeinated and mentally keyed up, trying to relax enough to fall asleep and do it all over again the next day.
I was aware during this period of my life that I was incredibly blessed to be receiving a higher education, and I genuinely loved being a student, but I mistakenly believed I thrived off the pace of life I led as a grad student. Professors and supervisors would warn us grad students, "Just wait until you finish school and have a break for awhile, you'll be bored." When I finished grad school, however, life as I knew it came to a grinding halt. My dad's death forced me to slow down whether I wanted to or not. I suddenly had no clue where I was going with my life any more, what I was passionate about, or what ambitious things I would aspire to do with my education.
So, I spent a month with my family in Oregon after Dad died, and the following month with a close friend in Guatemala. When I returned home to Seattle, I spent nearly the next three months searching for a job. I felt lost, adrift, and frustrated. Job searching had never been fun for me, but now, it felt torturous. Each time I sat down at my laptop, I wanted to bang my head against it. Nothing that would have previously interested me held appeal any more. I finally ended up taking a position as a barista at Starbucks, figuring it would help me bide my time until I moved onto something more meaningful.
And life gradually settled into a new rhythm. I worked about 30 hours a week, making people smile as they came and went for their daily caffeine fix. I went for long walks with my camera around my neck, talking with God and soaking in the solitude. I continued to sit at coffee shops, reading and writing, enjoyed leisurely time with Mom, reveled in the luxury of making meals, spent more time with friends, reconnected with parts of me that had been lost in the busy pace of life, and picked my guitar up more frequently again. I was slowly learning not to strive.
I've got a confession: I just passed my one year mark at my job, and much to my surprise, I'm not bored yet. I've had a year to build relationships with the customers that frequent our little kiosk, and I'm actually quite fond of them. I've even become friends with a few of them. When I come home, I leave work at work. And in my hours of free time - when you work 5:30am to 2pm, there's a lot of time left in the day - I'm still not bored. I live in a beautiful part of Seattle, just blocks from a view of the Puget Sound and Olympic mountains. Lots of families, lots of people walking their dogs, lots of charming local businesses within walking distance. It makes me smile. I often spend part of an afternoon sitting at a neighborhood coffee shop, drinking the cup of coffee I ironically didn't consume at work, reading my bible and writing. I go for a run or walk to the gym for a yoga class. I meet up with a friend and enjoy a good conversation over a bowl of pho. I play guitar and sing at the top of my lungs. I have dinner with Mom and go for a long walk together afterward. I attend a small group through my church and worship with my church family on Saturday nights. I rest. I am content. I have nothing to prove.
Yet all this, alone, was not the inspiration for my facebook status. I think Mike Bickle (founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City) says it best:
"Enjoying God is important to consistent spiritual growth. I have tasted this pleasure in some measure but not in an uninterupted way. There are moments when pleasure in God can erupt in our spirit. Even though this does not happen all day or even every day, nor do we feel this for extended periods of time, yet, a little touch of this pleasure does a remarkable thing in changing how we think and feel about life."
The more I enjoy God, the more I feel God's enjoyment of me, the more I, in return, enjoy life. All of life is about finding pleasure in God and living from a place of knowing and experiencing His pleasure in us. This revelation absolutely alters how I think and feel about life, and it causes me to look at my life and say, with great joy, "I love my life." And someday, when this particular season of life transitions into the next, I pray I take with me this revelation, that my capacity for enjoying God only expands and deepens with each season.
"Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." ~ Song of Solomon 2:3
Oh, that we would daily sit in the shade of God's expansive love and taste the sweet fruit of His goodness and delight in us! For there is no pleasure like Him in all the world, no fruit that will satisfy us as Jesus does.