Friday, I briefly went back to my alma mater, Wheaton College, one of the all-time bastions of evangelicalism. Since I no longer think of myself as an evangelical, it's not a visit I make very often, even though my sister-in-law lives a mere 5 minutes from the campus.
The reason I went was to see an art exhibit at the Billy Graham center there. The drawings were astonishing. If any of you live in or plan to visit the Chicago area by February, I'd recommend seeing this one.
Being back on campus always feels a little odd to me. Walking up the lawn to Blanchard Hall, I can't help but think about the young woman I was 30 years ago. And here is the honest-to-God truth. If I'd had a crystal ball at the age of 21 and could have seen a vision of the person I am now, I would have been horrified. I would have gone down on my knees and begged God to spare me from such a future.
My plan for my life was to teach high school English, to marry an evangelical man (although one who was more liberal than most), to have three children, to stay at home with those children until the youngest started school, and maybe if I was very lucky to publish a novel.
I taught high school for only one year and left the profession.
I married a divorced Catholic.
We have no children. Wanted them but couldn't have them.
I have been in the workforce for 30 years with no end in sight.
I've written three novels but not published any of them.
I've started to study art, which was so far off my radar that it never even occurred to me as a possibility.
I would not have ever believed that I would make the risky decision to live with both myself and my husband working as freelancers.
But the part that would have distressed me the most is that I've been though four denominations: Baptist, Mennonite, Catholic, and now Episcopalian (which I hope will be my stopping place). Had I foreseen this, I would have labeled myself a backslider and someone who'd been corrupted by the world. I would have begged God to keep me on the straight and narrow.
And yet, obviously, I don't think of myself that way now or I wouldn't be living the life I live.
The point I'm trying to make is that I would have refused my future because I had no way of knowing the unpredictable path God would lead me along or the way I would change and grow along the way.
Sometimes I think that's exactly why God doesn't let us know what's coming too far ahead of time. There is a very real danger that we would refuse his work in our lives because we think we know where we're supposed to be going.
It was good for me to be reminded of that. Especially now with the job and income uncertainty we're experiencing. We never know what is going to be beyond the next curve in the road.
And if my past and present are any indication, it will probably be much different than anything I can predict.