Monday, September 12

Choosing Joy

So we could discuss how it's been eight (8!!!!) months since my last post, or we could just ignore that little tidbit and continue on...

Yeah, let's go with that.

I'm currently sitting in a McDonald's listening to tons of Chopin on Spotify while eating a hot fudge sundae. Since inspiration always strikes me at the most random moments, I really should have expected this to happen (although I suppose if I had expected the inspiration, that would negate the random factor and we wouldn't even be here...but I digress).

I've mentioned in previous posts before that I have a hard time writing blog posts about things that I'm experiencing currently as I write the posts, and that I rather prefer writing about circumstances that have already played out to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion. This post is that way to an extent, but it's also a bit different (have I caught your interest effectively yet?). I also don't really know if this post is relatable or not... I'm inclined to think that it isn't super relatable in general, simply because if it were more of a relatable issue, then I probably wouldn't have had the issue in the first place.

Those of you who are unlucky enough to know me closely in real life are well aware that the past year has been very difficult for me as I've been seeking the Lord's will for my life and trying to reconcile what I thought I wanted with what was the best thing for me not only now, but also for my future. We all know that making major life decisions is always such a fun time anyway (ha), but this decision was ultra-complicated for me because of one main factor:

I was incredibly lonely.

I've blogged before about my personal philosophy as a musician, and it's almost impossible to know me without knowing that music is a huge part of my life (it kind of is my life, actually). I'm currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in piano performance, and I plan to continue my education in the future to obtain a master's degree and possibly a doctorate. Music can be a very competitive field, and although I've chosen to reject the cutthroat, elitist attitude that many musicians unfortunately embrace, I am still expected to be capable of performing at a competitive level with musicians that have that "whatever it takes" mentality. Consequently, it's vital that I pursue as many professional development opportunities as I can and that I stay very focused on developing myself as a musician in preparation for my future endeavors. And I did all of that quite well over the last year.

But I was incredibly lonely.

This whole past year has been a struggle for me trying to balance my desire to find and surround myself with good people who show good character and think the same way that I do with my desire to become a successful and well-rounded musician who can function easily and be well respected in the real world. I went back and forth for months on end, anguishing constantly wondering if I was going to make the right choice, wishing that everything could just be as easy for me as it seemed to be for others, resenting others for taking for granted what I longed for more than anything else...

I thought that I had to make a choice between two things that in my mind couldn't possibly exist simultaneously in my life under the circumstances. I saw my friends compromising standards, rebelling against their parents, and completely rejecting biblical truths that we had been taught our whole lives. What made it even worse was that my friends seemed to be loving life and doing just peachy, while I felt like I was the only one left who still wanted to do what was right, work hard to achieve my goals, and follow God's plan and timing, and I was miserable.

Anyway, here I am still feeling that way, but I've grown to accept it a little more. I did finally put the decision between my two desires to rest, but somehow it didn't seem to affect my life as monumentally as I expected that it would. What I ultimately came to is that my decision one way or another really didn't matter all that much. The desires of my heart are fleeting and change on a whim, but God is constant.

His plan isn't always easy, and sometimes I still break down and question the choices I made, but ultimately I can always know that God is constantly at work. He has brought me to exactly where I am in my life right now and I can trust that everything is going to come together and be just fine. Pursuing earthly success and acceptance from others is not the way to find true happiness and fulfillment. God knows what I need and what I want and will give me those things as He sees fit, regardless of my circumstances.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; and my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:5-11)

So even though I've hashed all that out for myself, let me just reiterate that I am very lonely. I accidentally discovered what I want to do with my life kind of early on compared to most people, so I have a lot of direction and drive right now that not a lot of people my age have, and that alone makes me somewhat isolated. I really don't know when or if I'll find people that I feel like I really connect with well, but I remain hopeful that they're out there for me somewhere. In the meantime, I'm learning a lot about how to be a person on my own (it's harder than it looks).

I realize that sounds positively unpleasant, but I'm really not at all unhappy with my current situation. I'm thrilled for my future and I hope for many exciting things to come. (But nonetheless, if you found this post relatable in the slightest, hit me up and maybe we can be lonely together.)

So as you can see, this situation of trying to reconcile seemingly conflicting desires is not entirely resolved, but I'm kind of starting to think that it may not ever really be resolved. I think maybe I accidentally stumbled upon one of the things that's just part of being a person, and it isn't really about good or bad so much as it's about how we choose to react.

I choose joy.

Monday, January 4

Trusting God & McDonald's

When I was younger, one of my favorite family activities was to go out for a meal together (something I still enjoy). We were pretty regular patrons at Kentucky Fried Chicken, but I was a fan of McDonald's, personally. Sometimes, however, Dad would decide that he wanted to go on an adventure and try something new, which I think was just his way of saying that he didn't know what he wanted to eat so we were just going to drive around town until he made up his mind (this argument is further supported by the fact that we frequently ended up at one of our old favorite restaurants after all).

I've mellowed out in recent years, but when I was younger, I was one of the most obnoxious children you'd ever meet because I wanted to know everything. I knew the family's schedule better than Mom; I had memorized the details of every upcoming church activity, field trip, or whatever other outing was planned. I wasn't a control freak per se, but I really, really wanted to know what was going on all the time and what the plan was. Consequently, I found Dad's "adventuring" extremely frustrating. As a twelve year old, the question on the top of my FAQ's was most certainly "Where are we going?"

Time after time I would sit in the car as Dad drove around and around and around, going who knows where, little tyrant Mer wanting more than nothing else (except maybe a Happy Meal) to feel in control and to know where we were going. I would hold the question in as long as I could, knowing that Dad would not be happy to answer, but inevitably I would spit out, "Where are we going?"

This was never well received.

Dad wanted us to just sit and wait for him to show us where he wanted to go to eat (since he obviously had a plan all along). 

He had already promised us that we were going somewhere, and he wanted us to just believe his promise, then wait and see what he did for us.

I realized today that as I've been seeking God's will for my future recently, I kind of slipped back into that old twelve year old mentality. I've been so stressed out about all the things going on in my life that all I've been doing is frantically asking for, begging for, and even demanding answers from God. Just like when Dad was driving around town and I wanted to know right away where we were going to eat, I was trying to bend God's plan for me to fit my foolish timing rather than believing that His way is best.

Eventually as I got older, I started to learn to keep my mouth shut on Dad's adventures and just trust Dad's word that I would get my McDonald's eventually. I think it's time that I start applying the same principle as I follow God's plan for my life. Just like Dad promised me McDonald's, God has promised that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. I don't have to hold on to my anxiety and worry, questions and doubts. I should instead offer it all to the One who not only is able to solve all my problems, but wants me to seek His help for every situation I face.

I always love how writing these posts not only helps me settle my own thoughts within myself, but also brings to mind other ideas to think about or related verses or songs. As I wrote this, I thought of a verse from the song "Amazing Grace" that is full of beautiful truth that is all too easy for me to forget.

The Lord has promised good to me;
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Right now, I'm choosing to believe with all my heart that God has an amazing plan for me that He will fulfill if I just trust Him. I'm going to claim His promises to me and live life fully in His steadfast love, endless mercy, and abundant grace, whatever that means might change along the way.

And who knows, maybe I'll get some McDonald's along the way to boot.