Beauty in the JourneyFound in: Travels
I’ve lived in Texas for way too long, y’all. A recent road trip hundreds of miles eastbound spanned several states, and I was first awestruck by the grass. GRASS. Honestly, because it was green--not brown--in summer. I’m not used to all this green “wildlife” stuff.
Each mile I inched closer and my heart grew full of wonder at what laid before me. I squealed at large hills dotted with colorful wildflowers and trees one-hundred feet high, still green. I said to God, “This is the most be-e-a-uuutiful thing I have EVER seen!” Not an hour later I drove over bridges with stretches of serene water looking like they had just jumped right out of National Geographic, and I felt a rush of excitement, gazing out my window so much that I heard that familiar abrupt noise below, signifying that I was once again swerving off-road. Oopsies. As if it was the first time all over again, I said to God, “Now THIS is the most be-e-a-uuutiful thing I have EVER seen!”
Several outbursts later, I finally shut my mouth long enough to hear that still, small voice as He said to me, “Just wait, Brit. It gets better!” and surely as He said it, it was more beautiful. At the very moment that I heard His words, I felt revelation smack me right upside the head about my own heart, my own journey. Not the kind of smacking that leaves a bruise, but more like a giant face palm, “a-ha” moment where things clicked in a way so much bigger than the pretty trees and hills in my rearview mirror.
First, I realized that my journey is so much more than the destination itself. Its not always about the "arriving" but rather delighting in the “getting there”, wherever the “there” may be. Sometimes the journey requires detours and scenic routes and getting off track. Sometimes its construction zones where you’re at a complete stop and frustratingly rerouting the same roads again. I am a forward thinker, a planner--always a few steps ahead of myself because somewhere in my mind I think if I don’t have a plan, if I'm not heading SOMEWHERE, then I don’t have vision for my next steps. I have the tendency of fixating my eyes solely on what lies ahead (forever the "Are we THERE yet?" girl), which is why this experience was so revelatory for me: delight in those moments along the way.
I also realized that my bar was set pretty low and my expectations were continually exceeded by each new experience. My barometer for what was Good needed a little help. Each time it got more beautiful, I felt I could be completely satisfied with what I saw. My heart felt full, like I’d seen the best that is out there. However as I ventured into new territory, God prompted my heart more than once that the best was still yet to come. Then it was though what I thought was beautiful at the beginning seemed dull and lifeless in comparison to the sights before me. But is “the best that’s yet to come” at an actual final destination or is it simply because there is so much more adventure ahead we have yet to explore and discover when we partner with Him? That there are lessons to be learned at every turn when we walk with willingness to embrace moments that lead us onto unfamiliar paths?
I’m not old by any means, but I grow increasingly weary of singleness just like the next girl. Feelings of loneliness or longing for companionship have prompted that oh-so-similar conversation with God where I with the highest of hope (and in smitten fashion said), “He is the b-e-e-est guy I have EVER met!” Like I, in my naivety, set the bar appropriately on the goodness and honor of a man. Or that I actually know how to spot it when I see it. So many times I hoped that THAT was it--that it was His best for me so I could have it, keep it, and be certain that He wasn’t holding out on me after all. But thank God for His grace. Ooh, and patience.
My frustration with dating over the years is that its felt like wasted time--like "I could've been married by now if..."--fill in the blank. It felt like I was walking in a big circle and not moving forward. However, even though my experiences haven't panned out, I learned plenty a good thing about myself, about others; I figured out what is important to me and what is not important. The detours have taken me on new routes, forcing me to pay attention to the road and figure out where I'm going. The scenic routes have allowed me to see things and people in a different light. When I've remained so focused on the destination caving to the pressure of the ever-ticking time clock, I have often failed to realize that what I perceived as detours or even dead-ends were actually invaluable parts of my journey because of the wisdom I gained from those experiences--experiences that continue to make the journey richer.
I remember the first time I fell in love. He made me laugh all of the time, came from an amazing family, and I saw so much potential in who he could become. But he didn't know where he was going and was in no rush to figure it out, either. I accommodated his indecisiveness by paying for all our dates, lending him money and excusing his behavior to our friends and family. At some point I realized there was no incentive for him to grow up because my actions communicated that I was already satisfied with the hope of his potential, and I was enabling him. I knew I didn’t want to be the one leading that relationship—better yet carrying it, but I did not possess the guts to break it off either. The inevitable heartache of that unsuccessful relationship eventually came and went, and now because of this experience, I know with certainty some of the qualities in a man that matter to me the most: Ambition. Drive. Consistency. Self-starting and hard-working. One who finishes what he starts. I also realized many things about myself that I needed to change in order to become a better woman. This seemingly off-course detour of a relationship has since helped me quickly identify things I don’t want in a marriage before any more dating ever got serious enough for me to have a heartache like that one again. And for that I am grateful.
Arriving at my destination on that trip was great. I freaking LOVE Nashville. I enjoyed every single moment at live music venues, cafes, canoeing rivers, visiting with friends and wandering around making random memories. But when I think back on this whole experience, some of my fondest moments were along the way and back. I think about the winding roads and sparkling pools of water reflecting the blue sky. I think about blaring Elvis as I drove through Memphis with my windows rolled down and my hair flying every which way. I think about how my heart wanted to explode as I shared these moments with God, and I totally felt His joy because I really like what He made.
Delight in the “getting there”. Posture yourself in a position of readiness for the goodness of God to be on full display, and allow your capacity for it to grow with each "mile" you travel throughout this life. I am getting there. I am still on the journey myself, and I think we all are. But I am so glad my life doesn’t start when I reach a “destination”; it already has begun. I continue to explore both the winding roads and sparkling pools as well as the detours and halting construction zones of life. I am learning how to live in the present. And its going to continue to be a wildly, fun ride.