As most of you know, my home base has been a VW van for the last four-ish months. Good grief. It is neither as creepy nor as adventurous as it sounds. I mean, it’s both of those things, but they are not mutually exclusive… nor are the pictures on Facebook or Instagram the full story (which I’m sure is true for most people).
As I’ve already shared with the people who have supported my book campaign, I’d like to also share with you a few of the real thoughts that come along with van life. I’m in a transitional season of life, not just because I live in a transit system, but because Aslan is on the move, as they would say in Narnia, and a change is gonna come, as Sam Cooke so perfectly sang back in his day.
With van life weighing on me while trying to do ministry and work another job to help supplement, and now having my book funded without much time or energy or goodnight-sleeps to be able to work on it, my season of van life is soon coming to an end, at least as a home base (Reggie June will still very much be a part of my life). I’m in the process of figuring out what my next steps are, as my time working at church is also coming to an end this month.
While I am excited, it took a lot of processing and admitting of my own struggles to be able to start moving into this next season of life, one of more stability… and one that gives momma a lot more reassurance about where her daughter is sleeping at night 🙂
I do not know exactly what is next, aside from lots of writing and coffee, and I do not know exactly where that writing and coffee will take place, my compass seems to be a bit broken. BUT, I do know that though much of my time and attention will be devoted to writing, my life has to include they very thing I sometimes forget I need, which isn’t a thing at all, but in fact, people… relationships built on human interaction. For as much as I love venturing off on some grand adventure, I think that doing life with people is perhaps the greatest adventure… even if it means staying put long enough to see their ugly, and long enough for them to see yours. Being loved through your ugly is quite an adventure.
To those who have been with me on this journey, and those who have shown their support in countless ways… Thank you, thank you, thank you for your help.
Well, today is supposed to be the day I get my Vanagon out of the shop. Perhaps I am writing about it a bit prematurely because I’d like to say “I got my van out of the shop,” as opposed to “I’m supposed to get it out of the shop,” but I’m trying this whole naming and claiming thing. I’m speaking out in faith that even if I don’t get what I hope for in my time frame, my God isn’t neglecting me, but in fact being so, so good to me in His better timing of things.
I tend to be afraid to speak out what I hope for, in fear that if it doesn’t happen, I won’t know how to handle my disappointment, or even how to approach God with disappointment. Maybe I fear God can’t handle my disappointment, and I don’t want Him to be disappointed in me for being disappointed in Him, and so I avoid the whole disappointment fiasco by not expressing any sort of desire, just incase said desire can’t or won’t be met.
I’m tired of living as if God can’t handle my emotions and I’m tired of playing it safe. I’m tired of being fearful to speak out a hope because of what other people might think if it doesn’t happen.
God doesn’t need me or my van getting fixed to prove that He is God and that He is listening to His people and that He is in fact in charge. My plan is to get my van back and head out of Portland tomorrow. I’m learning to hold my plans loosely because He may change them, and to not think He’s brushing me aside if He does.
I’m also learning to speak out in faith without all the answers or the facts, knowing that God can handle my disappointment and plan an adventure and write a story better than I could ever hope to.
This whole process has become one of having to trust the Lord, not just with the van, but with my life. I NEVER would have thought that buying a VW van would so challenge my view of God and reveal so much of my character that needs to be worked on.
For starters, I’m pretty selfish. I want what I want when I want it. God is continuously good to me and many times over He has given me a glimpse of a something or a someone He wants to bless me with, and often times He has said something along the lines of “hold on, don’t reach for it yet, let me make it better.” God wants to not only give me something, but wants to make it better before He gives it to me and I say, “no, I want it now.” I settle for a watered-down version of what God wants for me simply because I want the world and I want it now.
Which leads to my next character defect, I am incredibly impatient. I want the finger-snap answer to prayer as opposed to the long process. Who doesn’t want the finger-snap? It’s much easier and feels much better than a long, tiring and gruesome process of becoming a better version of ourselves. I want to be patient, I want to be selfless, I want to be kind, but I want God to zap me with those things so that it will be easy to be those things. I don’t want to be put in a place of having to practice patience, having to share when I don’t want to, and having to extend kindness when it’s hard. Being kind to someone who is kind to me doesn’t mean I possess kindness and have that to offer people, it just means I am capable of responding to kindness.
And perhaps that is another character defect, I am good at responding to people, but I don’t know how good I am at being good to people. I respond to a hand that asks for help, but I rarely offer my hand first. I respond to someone who shows or tells me they love me, but I rarely offer my love first. I would make a great paramedic, responding to calls all over the place, but I would make a horrible search and rescue, in part because I don’t seek, I just hope to find.
Man, ugly spades are flying all over the place.
I am not very good at seeking the Lord, and yet by some bizarre twist of my makeup, I am just as bad, if not worse, at waiting on the Lord. I find myself in a constant state of Limbo, neither seeking nor waiting, just keeping busy to pass the time and hoping the Lord shows up.
I don’t want to be busy for the sake of not being still, I want to be busy because I’m working hard, which is yet another character defect, I don’t work very hard. I work hard enough to say I worked, but not hard enough to endure when things get hard. I give up easily. When something comes up, I give up and I say I tried. Starting something is not trying, starting something is just that… starting. Trying is continuing what you started, even if you don’t feel as amped about it as you did when you started.
And while maybe I have taken note of these things before, all of these character defects have come to the surface and exposed their ugly roots in my life as a result of going through this whole van process. Yes, I wish it was as simple as being gifted a VW van in perfect condition for crazy cheap and hitting the road as soon as I was ready, but the process has exposed more work that needs to be done, not just in and on the van, but in and on me, that if not worked on could lead to more damage further down the road.
An un-restored me is just as dangerous to the lives of others on the road as an un-restored VW van. We were both born in the eighties, my van and I, we’ve both been through a lot, hold a lot of stories and have a lot of wear and tear as a result of. We both need work. And just as getting the work done on my van couldn’t be done without the helping hands of community, neither could I get through some of life’s obstacles without the helping hands of community.
As much as I hated the list of things the mechanics told me they were working on, I was glad the problems were found. Only in exposing the problems can we get to working on them and function at our best. While the waiting process is long and the work is tough, I know it is for the best. I know that just as those mechanics are getting that van in great shape for me to start a long journey, so the Lord is getting me in great shape to continue on in life’s journey, only making me better with each defect He picks apart and works on.
Lord willing, I get my van back today.
In fact, I’m claiming it now… I get my van back today! I’m writing about it on the unsafe side of the phone call, the side without the answers or the guarantees.
One thing I know for sure, God has been working on my attitude. For someone like me who is easily discouraged, I have found so much hope and joy in the simplest of things, as I have realized that worry really doesn’t add a single hour to my day or a single day to my life.
I have taken hard things, like moving out of my “perfect” home, and instead of avoiding the process or complaining about it, I have learned to enjoy it…
I have let go of hands I didn’t want to let go of with a grateful heart that I ever got to hold those hands in the first place, instead of whining that I couldn’t keep holding on… okay, maybe I whined a little, but I let go with the faith that it was for my good.
Leaps and bounds, my friends, leaps and bounds from where I was.
The road ahead is a long one, I don’t doubt that, but I know I am equipped to take it… it’s just going to be a matter of remembering that I am equipped to take it even when I don’t feel like I am, even when the road gets tougher and possibly longer.
While He may change things up on me from time to time, I know that God Himself does not change, and so I am removing my hope in the external circumstances and placing it in Him who is constantly and consistently Him.
I know He is for me, restoring the damage that has been done and refusing to give on me in the process.
My God handles the restoration business like a boss! In fact, I think I can hear Him now…