One day when I was a little girl, we were crossing over the railroad tracks by the home I grew up in. The same railroad tracks we drove over everyday. On our way to school. On our way home from school. When we went to the store. When we went to grandmas. I can still remember the sound of the tracks, making a clunking sound underneath the car. This one day in particular, I remember passing over the tracks and getting a vision of my future self. It was a sunny afternoon. I can’t remember what was playing on the radio or who was in the car. I just remember seeing myself in my twenties. I had short hair, I was tall, and I was happy. Today I am twenty two, I have short hair, I am tall, and I am happy. I really do believe that God gives us visions as promises for the future. He’s proved himself steadfast and loyal in his love time and time again. I am thankful for this love. Without this love, I don’t know where I would be.
I saw the exterior to my being that day in the car. The Carly that looked foreign and unfamiliar, but is now all I know. There is a lot I don’t know, yes. But Carly–long hair or short hair has always been the same. And even during the years when my heart was corroded and kept captive, still it was glowing underneath the corrosion and begging for a place to shine bright.
I still don’t know where I’m headed with my life, or what’s up ahead, but I didn’t even know who God was the day he gave me the vision of my twenty two year old self and it didn’t stop him from speaking. Sometimes I think maybe he has been giving me dreams and visions all along and my world has just been too loud for me to tune in.
For far too long I’ve asked the question, where Father, am I supposed to go next? What is the next step in my life? What is your will? I want answers and clear direction. I want purpose and meaning. I want an itinerary. Set plans. I’ve found that’s not exactly how God works. Following Jesus has time and time again, proven itself the biggest excursion and adventure I’ve ever entered into. It’s messy. It’s unclear. The answer I’m looking for doesn’t always come when I want it, and sometimes the answer is simply to live out the mess and learn along the way. I’ve found that God doesn’t want me to want answers, he wants me to want him. To in my uncertainty, lean back. To in my crisis, have a conversation. To in my weakness, allow him access. In a room full of doors, he wants me to—regardless of the door I choose—believe things are going to be okay. To confidently walk through the unknown and find flowers with each step I take.
The path to life is a twisting, winding, crazy and a so very beautiful and bumpy road. I often think about what things would be if they were made clear. Answers given and no room for wonder. Would I even need God? Would faith be the backbone to my story?
I’m twenty two today. I don’t know the answers to my life and I’m consumed with wonder. I need God. I don’t know that I’ve clearly seen the woman I’ll be years from now, but even if I did, I’d probably think she was crazy.
God’s plan rarely makes sense to us at the time. Compared to our own, God’s plan might even sound absurd and absolutely not an option. Those are the options we need to reconsider, press into and pray about. I never thought my vision of myself today would have—fifteen years later—become a reality…but here I am. Alive and well. My ideas of who I thought I would be at the time, faded.
So, my birthday advice for twenty two year old Carly is this:
Lavish in the wonder.
Dream…but dream with God.
Be vulnerable and be you.
Don’t be so quick to call out crazy.
Trust, even when it’s scary.
Find flowers in each step.