You Think You Cannot Do, Part Two.

I suppose I’m lucky.  I guess it’s a good thing that the hardest decision I have had to make over the last couple weeks was where to spend this summer: Maine or home.  I guess that’s the best kind of choice to have to make: a choice between two good things.  Right?  That’s what wise people would say.  Wise people would consider themselves blessed to be torn between two rights.  It’s better than the alternative.

I don’t think I have the best track record for being wise about stuff, sometimes.

Because this has been one of the most tossing-and-turning, pacing-the-room kind of decisions I’ve ever made.  Choosing a college?  Easy.  I only applied to Cedarville, and I got accepted in September of my senior year.  Summers past?  Always at Aldersgate.  It was like my default setting.  Even the hard decisions, the ones where there were only two things I didn’t want – even those have always come easy to me.  I’m good at making up my mind when I’m afraid or angry or bored.  And I’m normally pretty smart about it, too.

Of course, there’s the little decisions.  Which pair of jeans to buy when I’ve only allowed myself money for one.  Which entree to get at Olive Garden.  Whether or not to bring my umbrella to class when the clouds look ominous but the forecast is ambiguous.  I will walk around the store four times, carrying both pairs of jeans, try them on, put them both back, then make a choice 45 minutes later.  When I’m out to dinner, I’ll send the waitress back for more bread three times before I choose my meal.  I’ll take my umbrella, walk out the door, turn around, put it back, then walk five more steps before taking it up again.  It will never rain.  Unless I leave the umbrella again.  Then – monsoon.

At times, I wonder if this is why people often roll their eyes at me.  Because I’m so unpredictably indecisive.  Then I realize I roll my eyes at practically everyone as well, and remember that everyone’s got their quirks.  No one would have any friends if our eye rolls actually dictated our actions.

In the end, though, I always decide.  Sometimes I’m really good about pre-decision: You know, something will come up, and right away I’ll ask myself, “Now, after all the deliberation and heartache and metathought, what are you going to choose?”  Because I know.  Most of the time, I know myself well enough to know my final answer.  Then I say something like, “The fettuccine.  I’m going to choose the fettuccine.”  And I go on to agonize over the chicken marsala for ten minutes.

Obviously, this method works for big things, too.  I’m not so first-worldy that I frequently agonize over chicken, geesh.

But this decision wasn’t like that.  I didn’t know, at the beginning, what the end would look like.  If I closed my eyes, I could just as clearly see myself on a lake in Maine as I could on my hammock in my backyard.  Both made sense.  Both seemed like the right thing to do.  My heart longed for both places.

I’m going to stay home.

Yes, yes.  I know.  “But, the adventure!  The thing you were afraid of!  The once-in-a-lifetime shenanigans!”  Yeah.  That’s what I thought, too.  I thought, this is what everyone expects of me now that I’ve blabbed to the internet.  This is what I want to do – I want to prove to myself that I’m bold and independent and faithful.  The bold, independent, faithful thing to do is to fly to another state, live as far away from home as I’ve ever lived, for as long as I’ve ever been that far away.  More alone in the unexpected than I’ve ever found myself.  The thought was utterly frightening, and I loved the thrill.

Then the sun went down.  When the sun goes down, my true thoughts come to light.  Everything becomes more real at night.  Without daylight, Maine seemed farther away, more burdensome than exciting.  The reality of being virtually penniless come fall – I didn’t want to stumble through another year of college desperately trying to make tuition payments.  And as hard as I tried to fight the feeling, as tight as I tried to cling to the thought of adulthood and freedom… The night only reminded me how much I wanted to be with my family.  I haven’t been homesick since eighth grade, but the older I get, the more frantic I seem to become about spending all the time I can with my family.  Maybe it’s some weird young-adult-life-crisis.  Maybe I’m just childish.  I don’t really care one way or the other.  All I know is throughout high school, I used the summers to escape away to camp.  I craved independence then, because I knew I wasn’t yet old enough or mature enough or wise enough to actually have it.  But now that I’m free to go wherever I wish, whenever I wish it – I don’t want it as badly.

So I chose home.  It broke my heart to let the camp know.  As much as I wanted home, I wanted camp.  I did.  I do.  I told  them I’d apply next summer as well, and I will.  I’ll go next summer if God would give me the chance again.  I wonder if I’m slipping into a trap, a not-now-next-time trap, the trap that ultimately ends with a person never having done anything at all because she kept putting it off until tomorrow.  But I don’t think so, not with this one.  I said I wanted to do the thing I think I cannot do.

I don’t think I can work a menial job in Salem this summer.  I think I will go mad with boredom.  I think I will feel stuck.  I think I will feel purpose-less.  But I know I must do it, for these very reasons.  Does that make sense?  Try to understand.  I’ve always been afraid of being stuck at home, so I never let myself be.  I’ve always been afraid of being ordinary, so I’ve done things better than other people, I’ve sought out bigness so I would never have to get sucked into the mundane.  Maybe this is all well and good, but what if I’m missing something?  What if I’m so stuck in the magnificent that I’ve forgotten the beauty in simplicity?  My mind is a storyteller’s mind, I can’t help that.  I can’t stop the fantasy world that I wander around in, spinning words and poems that make everything more than what it is.  But I should at least give the normal things a chance to thrill me, shouldn’t I?

This is going to be that chance.  I’m resolving that, right now.  This summer, I’m not going to let myself belittle myself.  I won’t be ordinary because I’ll seek ordinary – and who the heck does that?  I’ll go to the library and I’ll go to the museums.  I’ll visit my town’s historical society, because it isn’t right that I’ve lived there for twenty years without having done so.  I’ll work some job that will pay tuition, and when I’m there, I’ll smile and be cheerful and be different.  I’ll be kind and loving and interesting, and I’ll make friends with people who aren’t like me.  I’ll teach Vacation Bible School.  I’ll go to the diner at midnight with my friends.  I will read books.  I’ll intern at the theatre.  Maybe I’ll even be in a play.  I’ll go to my family reunion, as insane as that idea might seem.  I will explore the woods and the bike trails and the hidden ice cream shops.  I’ll hang out in the cemeteries I’ve never been to – have I not told you?  I have a weird thing for cemeteries in the summer.  They’re full of lives lived, and I know there is joy in that.  I’ll build fires and sleep on my deck, even though my sister will call me a fool for it.

And when I come back to school, I’ll be ready.  I will be more than ready, I’m sure, to get away from home again.  But I need to go home in the meantime.  For myself.  To say that I have done it.  To know that though I will soon have to tear up my roots, at least I’ve been deep in the soil.  And next summer, I’ll go to Maine or New York or DC, knowing that I am ready for it.

I have to keep reminding myself of this, until I really believe it.  Such is the way with me.  I’m almost always unsettled.  I wish it weren’t up to me, though.  I wish God would’ve shown me the thing to do with burning bushes and pillars of fire.  But I know it isn’t really like that – I know now that some choices are between two right things.  We’ve got a gracious God who gives us right things.

So I’m resolved.

You Think You Cannot Do.

I’ve done something crazy.  I’ve done something completely spontaneous, with little planning.  I’ve done something terrifying and exciting.  And now, I don’t know what to do.

A few weeks ago, I was working a dull Saturday shift at the library.  There were no students to help, no books to shelve, no homework to do.  So I decided to start looking up camps.  I’ve been a Camp Person all my life, growing up as a camper/junior staffer/senior staff counselor at the same camp.  Camp runs thick through my veins: I know the songs and the wooded trails; I can tell you the weather based on the sound of the wind and the smell of the air; I can entertain a hundred kids with a kickball and three trash cans.  I decided, though, that last summer was going to be the end of my time at camp – I wanted to try other things.  I felt like my heart, while its roots were firmly planted at camp, was outgrowing its little plot of earth.  So I dug it up, put it in a pot (camp dirt and all), and vowed to carry it to my next destination. I was not conflicted about the decision I had made at the end of last summer, for this to be it.  I was sad, and I was afraid, but I was certain.

But I miss it.  It’s been hard, lately, knowing that people are getting ready for camp and I am applying to jobs at shoe stores and Aldi.  My whole life, summer has been the time of purpose, the time when I felt like I was doing great things.  But as I was gearing up for this coming summer, I didn’t feel any sense of purpose.  I felt ordinary, and for some reason, ordinary freaks me out.  It shouldn’t.  But I don’t like it.  I don’t want to be it.

So I started looking up camps.  I just typed random things into the search bar: “camps in Maine,” “all-girls camps,” “New England summer camp.”  For some reason, I was starry-eyed about Maine.  I wanted to daydream about mountains and tall pines and camps with tennis courts.  All-girls camps were on my heart; I thought the concept was so cool, so foreign to me.  Camps that lasted the whole summer, with girls from all over the country – I have never seen anything like it.  So I found a few cool ones, and read their whole websites.  All I wanted to do was daydream.

Then I applied for jobs.  At the fancy Maine camps.  On a total whim.

I don’t know why I did it.  I thought I was done with camp; I thought I wanted to stay home.  I thought I needed to make money, and relax, and see my friends and my family.  But I applied to camps I’ve never been to instead.

Maybe it’s because I’m bored.  I’ve been a student for 15 years of my life, and while I love it, sometimes I feel trapped in it.  Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of being ordinary.  Maybe it’s because I’m used to going away every summer.  Maybe it’s because I want to be someone else.  Maybe it’s because I think I can make a difference there.  Maybe it’s because I want to take a risk.  Maybe it’s just because I’m young and I lack forethought and I just do things without thinking.

Hint: it’s probably not the last one.  I always think.  Hence, blog.

I didn’t think one of them would ask me to interview.  I didn’t think one of them would offer me a job.

I skype-interviewed with one of the camps’ directors.  Part of me hoped she would make it easy to say no.  Maybe she would be mean, or they wouldn’t offer me a decent salary, or they would ask me to be a lifeguard or in the kitchen or something.  The other part of me hoped she would make it easy to say yes.  Maybe she would offer me $7000.  Maybe God would speak to me in The Legitimate, Undeniable God Voice while I was interviewing.  Maybe I would just know.

But nothing is easy.  Because she was kind and warm, and she had a passion for camp, and she offered me a middle-ground salary, and she told me I could climb a mountain, and God did not go all Burning Bush Via Skype – He didn’t tell me yes or no.

I told her I needed time.

I told her I needed to pray about it.

It is a secular camp.  That scares me.  And it thrills me.

And now I don’t know what to do.  Because too many things are telling me to go, to do it.  People I trust are telling me it is an exciting opportunity.  Friends are telling me to go have fun.  I overheard a girl’s phone conversation talking about God’s sovereignty, about His will.  The song we sang in chapel praised the God who goes with us to the uncertain places.  I saw a tweet that said “do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Do the thing you think you cannot do.

I do not think I can stay away from my home for eight weeks this summer.  I do not think I can go to a state so far away.  I do not think I can go to a secular place alone.  I do not think I can work in a camp that is not my camp.  I do not think I can be a counselor again.

But I want to so badly.  Oh, do I want to.  I want to do something wild and extraordinary.  I want to do something frightening and exhilarating.  I want to be alone and strong about it.  I want to meet people who are not like me.  I want people to see Christ in me.  I want to hike that freaking mountain.

So, I don’t know what I am.  I don’t know what I’m doing – ever, really, but right now especially.  Sometimes I am sure God is telling me to do the thing I think I cannot do.  Then the sun goes down, and there is nothing to hide the fear in my heart.  When it gets dark, everything seems scarier than it is.

It isn’t camp I’m afraid of.  I know that.  If I lived another life, if I didn’t need to make money for school, if I lived closer to Maine, if I didn’t have to come back to school less than a week after camp ended, I would do it.  I know I would.  But, it’s so far away.  It’s so long.  These past two years at school have made me homesick in the most indescribable way.  I know homesickness – the weepy, suffocating kind I felt at camp when I was young.  But camp grew me out of it; I never felt it after 8th grade.  Freshman year wasn’t so bad; everything was too new and exciting.  Then, this year, it hit me hard.  Not the messy homesickness I was used to, though.  This is different.  It is this dull longing in my heart for familiarity.  It’s an uneasy pain somewhere deep inside for the dusty roads I grew up on, for the faces of people who’ve known me forever.  I want to ride in the backseat again; I want to listen to my parents’ workday stories.  All of this is coupled with a desire for a degree, with a love for my friends, friends I never want to leave.  I love school so much, but I love where I came from just as much.  I’m ripped in two between two homes.

So, summer was going to be my time to go back.  It was going to be ordinary, sure; but it was going to be easy.  It was going to be familiar and safe.

But now this.  And I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t know what to choose – because I must choose, and soon.  I have a week.  And I know it is only a summer.  But that “only-a-summer” is followed closely by nine months at school, which is followed by an elsewhere-internship, which is followed my more school, then graduation, then life.  That’s when I have to stop going home, right?  That’s when I establish myself somewhere else.  It’s when I stop living in the bedroom occupied by my 17-year-old self, with her Emma Watson posters and high school yearbooks.

I’ve got to grow up sometime.  And I am afraid that this summer will make sometime that much closer.

Do the thing you think you cannot do.

Sometimes, I don’t think I can even make a decision.