Recently, I completed a self-portrait project for my last Independent Study of my undergrad career. As my focus is in Illustration, I decided that I would document my transition and all the highs and lows of that journey by creating a ballroom scene with 21 different Mitchels. The time came to design the actual ballroom, and I decided I would include storybook lettering, but as I marked out the lines, I stopped myself.
Instead of writing that I lived “happily ever after,” I backtracked and very carefully wrote “honestly ever after.”
There are highs and lows all the time. That’s the nature of life and I know now that it’s always going to be that way, but it’s how I learn to face it that is what will define me. A new low has crossed my radar, another obstacle between me and life as I’d like to live it, and I’m in the midst of very tensely trying to plan my next move while still surviving finals. God, however, makes their presence ever known in my life.
The challenge before me has been planted in my lap right during the season of Advent, a season of tension, a season of waiting, and expectation, and the frustration that comes from all of the above. I spend so much time getting ready for my tomorrows, and worrying how things are going to pan out, and if I’m going to be okay that it’s easy to forget the magic in the mystery.
It’s also really easy to miss the miracles of the present moment when we’re waiting for a bigger, expected, promised one.
For my recent birthday, I got to go to a Relient K concert with my fiancée, and from the day we bought the tickets I was positively bursting with anticipation. Since discovering them through my youth group in 2007, I had bought every album, learned every song, and bought my fair share of merch but never made it to one of their shows, and I was absolutely wracked trying to figure out if it was possible to let a band know how much they mean to me from a crowded floor. So, I did what I do best, and I drew them a picture on a piece of poster board.
Mary-Catherine spent the entire car ride, dinner date, and opener performances reminding me that it would be okay, that by being there I was supporting them, and that I should enjoy the moment rather than stress out about the poster. We worked our way up to the third row, two very, very happy men about my age helped me hold it up long enough to earn a wink and a smile from Matt Thiessen, and then we moved back so that we could actually enjoy the rest of the show without being shoved around anymore. It was honestly the highlight of my life. And as the show slowed down, the band played O Holy Night for us, following Matt’s message about how weary the world has been, and how now, finally it’s time for the world to be rejoicing the gift of our savior.
Despite the exhaustion, the nervousness, the amount of weight we are carrying, this is the season for hope, and for joy, and it’s not something that just waits for Christmas Day.
Since the concert, I’ve been challenging myself to do one thing that makes the world less weary every day, like taking the time to do a free photo-shoot for someone, or donating what I can to helping house refugees in Canada since we’re a little behind the times here, or stopping to check in on someone I haven’t spoken to in a while just to make sure they’re doing alright. Today, I decided to take care of me by coming home, getting my studying done and crawling into bed early to write this and get some rest before exams begin in the morning.
Living honestly means admitting that today was kinda rough, I’m a little terrified of what my final GPA is going be, and that I honestly don’t know what my next call is going to be regarding my life choice du jour. But there are a whole lot of things to celebrate right now, today and always, and so I will do my best to slow down and enjoy them, while giving back to the world that does its best to love me.
The good times will come again, and I’ll be ready for them when they do, but that doesn’t make today any less of a gift.