I just graduated from college. I wore the gown, flipped the tassel, said thanks, goodbye and bravo, friends, then filled my parents’ Subaru and traveled back home to Toronto, Ontario.
Summer was a nice pause after graduating. I slept in, ran trails, drank coffee and listened to CBC Radio. I read novels, made smoothies and burned my nose eating two scoops in a waffle cone.
But now, suddenly, summer is over. The nights are cool, grass brown, the hostas in the back garden withered and weary. I’m suddenly reminded that like the leaves, lakes and outdoor entertainment, I too must submit to summer’s end. I must close my book, put away flip-flops, shake the hand of post-graduate-life and face September with nothing but a new email address and a teacher’s certificate.
And this, quite frankly, freaks me out.
The other day I read an interview with author Margaret Atwood printed in Toronto’s The Globe and Mail. In the interview, Atwood comments that when you’re older, you know more of life’s plot (at least most of the chapters) and so are less overwhelmed by the future. “But when you’re in your 20s,” Atwood continues, “you really don’t know, ‘How is it all gonna turn out?’” You don’t know what’s coming next so you have to make up what it’s like to be older, “like writing about a foreign country to which you’ve never been.”
Atwood’s comments made sense of all my panic about the future. Lately I have been feeling exactly as she describes, that I’m writing about a foreign place to which I’ve never been. I have no idea what I’m writing about. It’s blurry and ambiguous. I’m just making things up, coming up with cool ideas, dim possibilities. But every sketch of my future could be completely wrong. And shoot, I won’t know until I arrive, grimy from traveling, in that far-away land.
This time of uncertainty, stripped of my title “student,” has caused me to seriously consider who I am—more specifically, who I am in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt 16: 24-25, TNIV). This makes me wonder. Maybe losing my “life” means losing my goals, schedules and five-year plan. Maybe I have to give all that up. Because maybe it doesn’t matter that I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years as long as I know that I will be following Jesus.
I am slowly learning that when Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, to give up our life, He is asking us to give up our desire to know our future, to give up all titles but the one that matters, which is follower of Jesus, beloved sheep. When I remember this, that what matters most is that I am following our Lord, I am less anxious about the future, less obsessed with plotting out each day.
With God’s guidance I have decided to acquire a teaching job and stay in Toronto for awhile, which excites me. However, even with this basic understanding of my future there is much to be discovered. And so I remind myself to breathe peacefully, pray faithfully and walk trustingly. And I remind myself of the words of Jesus, who does not say to us, “Move! Work fast! Figure out your life! Time is running out!” But rather, “I am the good shepherd. Come, follow me.”