I’ve had two really epic travel adventures in recent years that kept me away for nearly a month. Both were incredibly fun – dreams come true. We saw the world and we made memories I will never forget. And yet, both times, by the time I got home I was so done being gone I couldn’t imagine planning another trip. I missed my people. I missed the place with the big brown chair with a hole in the side where the dog ate it and the glass door and floor I can never keep clean…home. I missed the feeling of being settled, and while I hate to admit it, I missed the 6am alarm clocks and making lunches and falling into bed fully spent. I needed to just ‘be’.
Most recently, my boys and I drove the East Coast together, visiting my old friends and my son’s potential college choices. We hit a new city and at least one new college every day. We saw beautiful country together. We laughed a lot with each other and we spent time in serious discussions about each college, praying and discerning. I spent a lot of time asking for a picture and pushing past eye rolls for the necessary Facebook post. (It’s all part of the fun, right?!)
But here’s the thing…no matter how many Instagram perfect moments God has given me with my boys, I still need to come to terms with the fact that this is the end of a season with them. I will be packing one boy up in a few months, not for a trip, but for a new season of his life – a season that doesn’t include me in the same way I’ve been a part of his adventures until now. Entering into a season of letting go of my kids and saying good-bye to a season of my own life has made me think…and notice. My next adventure is going to take more than a plane ticket and a hotel reservation… I need a new definition of adventure.
LIFE IS THE ADVENTURE
Since I’ve been home, enjoying my settled life and soaking in every single second of it before it completely changes, I’ve had different eyes for what’s going on around me. I’ve been sharing life with a friend who is going through unspeakable pain and tragedy. I’ve been journeying with people I love that are going through major life changes, filled with shifts in their identity and tears that make their path wet. I’ve been soaking in the joy of a son who is a senior, with all of the excitement, stress, and cool experiences that offers him. I’ve sat in living rooms and around tables with people who have taught me about deep, rich friendships full of prayer, laughter, growth, and faithfulness. I’ve been part of a little girl’s life who was recently diagnosed with a degenerative disease and seen from a distance the kinds of decisions and conversations that requires of parents. I’ve hiked and run through the unimaginable beauty of warm beaches and cool, shaded mountains. When I stop and look around, it seems so obvious:
Life is enough of a freaking adventure right where I’m at.
Here’s what I am learning about adventure, and if I could pass on a few thoughts to my mancub as he gets ready to leave my nest, this is what I’d share:
(Let’s be honest – he probably won’t listen, yet. Giving parental advice at this stage of the game is a little like sending a healthy lunch to school knowing that they are still going to take the free candy from the teacher and the free pizza offered at lunch. It’s part of life’s adventure to make your own path and try what seems attractive, and then realize it actually gave you a stomach ache and you probably should have eaten the healthy stuff after all. Just a guess. But I’m still going to pack the lunch with sprouted grain bread because it’s my job to prepare for and hope for the best.)
1. Adventuring is a choice.
“Adventure: to engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.”
Life is full of mountains to climb and challenges to overcome. If you dream of climbing Mt. Everest but stay home and only look at pictures on the internet, you definitely won’t achieve anything. If you get to Nepal but stay at the base of the mountain, frozen in place by fear and anxiety, you will never know if you could have made it to the top. You will almost never know exactly how the climb will look or if you’ll actually be able to make it to the top, but you have to choose to lean in and walk forward to find out. Life at all of it’s transitions offers a lot of unknowns. New ages and stages, new jobs, new churches, new places – life transitions usually bring with them a lot of excitement, and can feel pretty hazardous or scary as you enter unknown territory.
As you enter these unknowns, you get to decide: fear and anxiety, or excitement and joy. Attitude changes your perspective and makes life what it is. Choose to see life, and it’s twists and turns, as an adventure. Choose to ENGAGE, not run, from what you are experiencing and feeling. Let God’s grace cover you and spill out of you. It’s ok to feel the full range of emotions that come with entering the unknown and hazardous of life…move toward it all and let God’s inexplicable peace wash over you as you sit with Him in it all. Choose life, choose adventure, choose joy, and choose God. Choose your own adventure.
2. Don’t try to force the adventure.
If you do start the climb to peak Everest, you will quickly note that it’s not necessarily a straight line from the base of the mountain to the top. There are switch-backs, stop off plateaus for rest and acclimation, and plenty of twists and turns. There are also guides (sherpas) there to help you get to where you want to be in the best, most effective way possible. If you don’t listen to your guides, it becomes life threatening very quickly. Sometimes, weather and other unforeseen circumstances stop your climb altogether.
If you are willing to quiet yourself, listen to God, and ask for His eyes, you will be on the path you need to be to get where you want to get. You don’t need to try and create your own excitement, because the life all around you is filled with excitement. You don’t have to try and change your circumstances or fix your situation on your own power; you can trust in Him who loves you and knows you best. Life is enough of an adventure all by itself when you let yourself really experience it. If you lean in and allow yourself to really see, feel, and notice all of the life around you, you won’t need another travel brochure or to force God’s hand in anything. Listen to your guides and notice the indications around you, and don’t stress about the twists and turns and stops along the way. You will get where you need to be.
3. When you are climbing your Everest, you need someone you can trust on the ropes.
When you are climbing your mountains and facing the stuff of life, sometimes the mountains before you feel too big and you can barely breathe. You need to have people that you trust at the ropes, people that will share their oxygen if you start to run out. You need people that will help you persevere and keep climbing when you most feel like giving up. (Choose your people wisely – they need to have the same commitment to truth and love and reaching the top of the mountain that you have.) God made us for community, and people are very often His “plan A” for the help He sends us. Find your people, and stick with them through the thick and the thin, and the avalanches of life. Your people make life richer, deeper, more beautiful, so much less lonely, and infinitely more fun.
I’d love to hear from you!
What life transitions are you going through right now?
How often does life really feel like an adventure?
Where do you see God journeying with you right now in your life?
Also, you can just tell me about your epic trips…because I still love trips. 🙂