is to become obedient.
I open the letter with trembling hands. It's a familiar free-flowing scrawl, and as her words pour out of the page and spill into the room, I'm suddenly crying. I sink into the folds of my comforter crinkling her letter in my sweaty hands. I've been cleaning my room in preparation for the chaos of moving back to school and there are piles of things still waiting to be sorted and packed. Books are strewn everywhere, and the good words abound, but in the haze of Friday afternoon humidity, I just hear Joanna reminding me that the point isn't the "after college" or the "next thing" or even the horizon blazing ahead of us. I can almost see her sitting on my sister's bed, putting her arm around me as I shudder with frustration and saying, "It's going to be okay." How did I forget?
I've been caught in a circle in my head. I've been telling this story about the doom of missing "it" - the right path, the right job, the right topic for my thesis. I've been walking on eggshells around the future, afraid to disturb it with my own blundering efforts to get it right. As school begins, I'm more afraid than ever, because the things I love seem so close and so out of reach.
I treat myself as a tightrope walker - and a wrong step means the world shakes. My feet tremble and I look around me with the sinking feeling - there is no place to fall - and I feel the rope beneath me bend. I live in this mad dash, no room for mistakes, no room to have the "wrong" major or to forget a phone call or leave an email behind for more than 24 hours. I live thinking I have to work to earn my place in the world. I have to prove that I'm worth it. I can't not know something, because that means I'm falling short, I'm not as wise or as thoughtful or as kind or as good as I think I should be.
And maybe I live thinking that I have to work to earn His love, too.
Maybe I pray for grace but I don't think He'll give it. Like praying for rain and running around with a watering can. Like praying that He shows you the way and then kicking down every door in sight without waiting for an answer.
And how much of that one wild and precious life that He's given me have I spent hiding from my insecurities and keeping myself safe from mistakes, away from the ledge, running around behind His back with a watering can when, just over the horizon I can't quite see, He is rolling in the drenching August thunderstorms to quench all my thirst?
So I sit on my bed, pages of her time and attention and love, pages of her self all promising me that we'll get there, we'll find it, if we knock the door is going to open even if we do not know anything. And the stories she tells me in every part of who she is, and is becoming, are the grace I don't know how to pray for. She reminds me of the point - God's delight, obeying, the wild promise of grace. Always that.
Oh, Hilary! I can hear her say as she smiles at me over the chipped rim of her coffee cup. We're going to get there. We're going to learn it. We're going to fumble our way towards the fullness.
And the point is the obedience.