Somewhere in Northern Zambia there is a one-lane bridge that spans the Zambezi, one of the largest rivers on the planet. Halfway out this connection between Zimbabwe and Zambia is a scraggly metal scaffold. A few years ago, I stood on that scaffolding. Wearing pink Banana Republic shorts and a striped button-down, wondering what the heck I’m thinking; halfway out on a bridge, in a third world country, thousands of miles from the closest decent hospital, preparing to jump. I’m ashamed to say, as I was pushed from the platform, for the next three hundred feet a mixture of profanity-laced prayers were all I could manage.
Little did I know the next few years would be eerily similar to that very free-fall. I thought when I turned 18, when the acne died down and my voice stopped cracking, the roller-coaster ride of puberty was finally over. But at 22 I’m just as “happy, confused and lonely” as I was when I used ProActiv every night and sprayed myself with Axe before I went to school (for the record, I’m an Old Spice man now).
Filled with emotion, uncertainty, anxiety, and yes, the occasional expletive, the season of the early twenties is aptly named “quarter-life crisis.” On one side sits adolescence and dependence, while on the other rests this nebulous term “adulthood” (what does it even mean??) and independence.
As I sit in this space now and reflect on this past season, I think back on one of my favorite memories. It was a fall afternoon and I was going on a drive with a friend when we spotted this old cell phone tower high on the top of a mountain outside of town. Naturally, we decided to skip class and figure out how to get up there. Waiting for us at the summit was a rocky outcropping covered in colorful graffiti with stunning views of the entire Lynchburg valley.
In the years that followed, many of my favorite nights were spent there. Sometimes my friends and I would pile in the car at 1 AM and drive up just to lie out under the stars. There was something about that spot. Thinking. Dreaming. Wishing. Staying up all night, bundled up, sharing our passions, talking about who we wanted to be and where we wanted to go.
Up until now, I got to experience the best of both worlds; the excitement and joy of the things ahead, and the comfort and security of those I love most. Now, with commencement only days away and bags packed, I’m getting closer to leaving behind the people I’ve come to know for ones I haven’t met.
I sing lyrics in worship like, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders”, which sound great sung from the safety of a sanctuary filled with close friends. Now that it’s time to go though, I’ve realized I’m quite fond of living life within the borders of Virginia and Georgia.
If I had things my way, I would move back to Atlanta, date the girl I really like, work for a Fortune 500 company in Buckhead, shop at Billy Reid in the West End and get a sweet loft (with a husky puppy) off Howell Mill next to the Italian restaurant I love. Seriously, I’ve already pinned the furniture on Pinterest.
I say to Jesus “Be thou my vision” but in all actuality, I’m quite fond of the vision I already have for my life.
Instead, I’m exploring the opportunity of joining the team of a nonprofit in Colorado.
Whether I move to the Wild West or not, this next phase of life is, frankly, terrifying. I think it’s terrifying not so much because of what’s next, but because of what has been.
You see, I’ve discovered it’s not the fear of the unknown that holds people back from dreams, risks and calling but rather the pain of leaving the known; especially when what you’ve “known” has been so good.
“It’s not that the future is hard to face, it’s that I’ll no longer be facing the blessings of my present… “
And it’s because I walked out.
Is it harder to be left, or harder to leave?
Caught somewhere between who I am and who I’m going to be, I'm taking what I know about Jesus and what He says about me and leaning into… the land between.