i have a wonderful mentor who taught a few courses that i took–steve garber.  i love seeing his name on articles and podcasts–i always love what he has to say.  for the most part, he says the same thing in a million different ways.  the purpose of youth and the season of education is to develop a coherent faith that will last throughout life.  when i first heard this, i thought it sounded nice and like a very worthy goal, especially for an educator.  he talks about the joys and sorrows and how living honestly means grappling with these realities, holding them in tension and still relating to God.

recently, i had a stranger ask me about my biggest goal in life.  i couldn’t answer the question on the spot, so i’ve let it roll around in my head the last few days.  i realize that it really is to live a coherent life.  there are so many ups and downs, so many unknowns, so much that enters life stage left unannounced.  the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches are so quick to choke out our faith.  there’s the obvious stuff, but then there’s also monotony.  steve calls it the valley of the daipers–when life is filled with little kids and working day after day and one foot in front of the other.  right now i have so much excitement, so much learning, and growing and travel and new experiences but one day i will settle into a rhythm and not deviate for years.  my question is: will my faith sustain me through the drama of life and the lack of it?  will i be able to praise God when he gives, when he takes and when he’s silent?

tonight i went out with some friends i haven’t seen in a while.  it’s been four years since we really did life together, 3 since we were in close contact.  i’ve seen them in the last year or two, but we got to really reconnect tonight.  i got to hear their stories, really look them in the eyes–it’s so much different than a phone call.  and, after meeting with them all, i’m a little sad.  life caught up with us.  we’re not wide-eyed recent college grads intent on finding shiny new ideas to try on for size.  we’re all adults who are working in careers and buying houses and married and  looking to have kids!   i’m proud of them.  they’ve grown up, but there’s a lot of cynicism that’s creeped in with the sense of settledness.  there’s less spring in their steps.  it’s sad.  i didn’t feel very open tonight so i kept deflecting questions, turning it back to them, but i feel the same way.  there’s less hopeful expectation for the future and more filling in the blanks with the next thing.

i can see this pattern continuing throughout life and it makes me sad.  we’ve all got to grow up.  we work for nonprofits til they lay us off, then we get a job working for a corporate institution.  we learn that our health is not a given and struggle with the loss of innocence that comes with that reality.  we realize that maybe love and sex and commitment aren’t all the same thing and grieve that, looking for ways to move forward in relationships anyway.  we realize that marriage isn’t a magical escape into ultimate fulfillment.

the time with my friends was good and i’m really glad that we could cover so much ground and go deep in just a few hours.  i don’t think i wish i could turn the clock back.  i was just surprised that while i was gone and changing, everyone else was, too.  i don’t know how optimism and faith are tied together.  i want my faith to work in this chapter of my life and the next one and the one after that.  any tips are welcome.  i think it’s time to have coffee with steve again.