Life on autopilot: it’s time for a change

Wednesday was one of those days where I felt everything, and I’m so grateful.

I sat in my swivel chair, shut tight in the little studio while instrumental Christmas carols filled the room and the waveforms rose and fell right along with them. In between pushing record and stop and occasionally adjusting the volume, I was reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ book The Women of Christmas.

Somehow, we received quite a few copies of that book here at the station, and so one day a couple weeks ago, I found that shiny red hardback in my box. A new resource! I thought, admiring the Christmassy cover.

There are many Advent resources, I’ve found.

Perfect for this girl who’s bringing Advent to the late-night hours of a small Christian radio station.

So there I was, reading The Women of Christmas while the music played, and I felt it, all of it.

The Christmas story was alive in my heart, and I wasn’t reading it just so I could pull out a few quotes for my radio show.

The night before, I had been reading another book, and I was having trouble getting into it. At the back of my mind were thoughts like maybe I can pull something out of this for my blog and how can I use this in my writing/teaching/speaking?

This is why I’m not a fan of writing book reviews. The knowledge that the book review is waiting for me just past the last page, and demanding a solid analysis and arguments, distracts me from being able to fully enjoy, immerse, be. That tendency to turn everything into a performance is already there; why exacerbate it?

So there I was, reading this book, Grace for the Good Girl, and I finally gave myself grace. I finally let go and let myself read without the pressure of having to remember everything or be able to regurgitate it later. It was wonderful.

My days of being are few and far between.

I’m too much about lists and tasks and getting five things done at once. And usually, those five things can all be done with the help of a mouse and a keyboard. I’m convinced that all of this, all the lists and the task orientation and the spending all my free time in front of the computer, dulls my mind and heart.

And honestly, I’m already tempted to believe my life right now is dull.

I am 25 years old, and I live at home with my parents, and even though I have a job and a blog and a group of youth group kids I love, my life is safe, easy and predictable.

And what do I do? I dull it still further.

I want my life to count, even now in the in-between and the over-familiar.

I’m on autopilot right now, and autopilot is easy. But autopilot steals my humanity, one hour at a time. It steals my ability to feel and think deeply, to empathize, to truly live life.

Wednesday was one of those days where I felt everything — the Liz Curtis Higgs book, the words and Scriptures and thoughts I spoke into the microphone — was fully present, and felt like a person, not a robot.

This brings me to today, and this weekend.

I’ll be spending a good part of this weekend in a car, and after two and a half hours of sitting in the dark thinking, I already feel emotionally and spiritually rejuvenated. This is going to be a healing weekend, I can tell.

It’s too soon to decide which attitudes and activities need to be replaced in the long-term, but I think it’s time to take a break from this blog. I was already going to take two weeks off for Christmas, since I’ll be on vacation in England, but I think it would be healthy for me to start my blog vacation early.

Blogging has become more about lists and tasks and social networking, more about trying to turn barely processed thoughts into polished writing, more about analyzing my life while I’m living it than it is about the sheer joy of writing. I need time to think and pray and be. I need time to rediscover my love of writing, and to decide what role blogging should play in it right now. Does the activity need to change, or just the attitude, or both? I don’t know, but I need to turn off the autopilot to find out.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me in this journey. I hope that this time off is the start of something new.

To Dream Deeply

photo by mollybob on flickr’s creative commons

A new idea comes to me, a big idea to change everything, a wild idea to throw off the old certainties. “Wrap your mind around this,” it whispers.

And so I do.

My mind snaps to attention with new heart energy, and I’m making this work. Connections fuse and I’m mapping my potential new course. I’m thinking through all the details and logistics and dismantling all the practical problems. I am alive in this, dreaming and drinking in the planning.

I don’t ask these questions, at least not right away: Is this the right thing? Am I ready for this? Is the timing right? Is this you, Lord?

The problem is, by the time I finally get around to asking those questions, I’ve already half-decided to say yes because everything seems so easy and solvable in my mind. How easily I forget that those obstacles aren’t the only ones. If I start to convince myself that the only challenges are logistical ones, I ignore spiritual and emotional realities.

And those spiritual and emotional questions take time. They require stillness. The answers aren’t so easy.

My possibility is beautiful and exciting, but also expensive and fragile and not guaranteed to last or even work.

I don’t want to rip into it like it’s a toy in cheap paper. I don’t want to assume that, because I’ve thought of it and it excites me, it’s made for me and nothing will go wrong and there are no cracks in it or me.

I want to ponder and treasure, to take this possibility in my hands with care and really see it in all of its complexity.

Is it for me? Is it for now? Is it worth the cost?

Dreaming isn’t bad. Getting excited about a possibility isn’t bad. But when it’s a big, potentially life-changing possibility, I don’t want to dream lightly. I want to dream deeply.