About ten years ago, my husband bought a Jeep Wrangler. Typically, I don’t drive anywhere without a map and clear directions on how to get from point A to point B, but in this Jeep, I was an explorer. I would take the top off and boldly turn down roads I never would have turned down before. I loved who I was when I was in it-- in control, adventurous, never knowing the destination but always arriving back home a little lighter, a little easier, a little more at peace. This vehicle made me feel fearless.
Looking back now, I am awestruck at the little box I built around myself. When we owned that Jeep, my children were in high school, I was a few years into a career as an educator, we were living in a beautiful home, and by all means, life was pretty perfect. Yet, the only time I felt free was in the Jeep, and that only lasted a summer; we sold it and my little adventures down obscure dirt roads came to an end. Those paths just wouldn’t be the same in the minivan.
For the past few years now I have been on a new journey, a new adventure. Perhaps something in me stirred that summer years ago, stirred my spirit, and pushed me to begin looking for that feeling again. And thus began my spirit quest. A quest to rediscover long forgotten parts of myself, parts that used to bring me joy or lightness or peace -- or even parts I never knew existed. A journey whose destination was ultimately back to me. I have learned a lot during this time, but perhaps the most shocking to me has been the awareness of just how fearfully I was living life. I described it as a “passivity” in another post, but it ran so much deeper. Fear of judgement, humiliation, embarrassment, making a mistake -- I used all these fear-filled illusions as excuses to not take risks -- their possibility terrified me. And fear is a very big feeling.
And fear is (most of the time) a lie.
That’s right. A lie. A lie we tell ourselves because we think it keeps us safe. A lie we tell ourselves because it is easier to sit back and let life happen to us than it is to face the unknown and make the life we want. And we lie to ourselves all the time. Every time we say things like when I lose weight, then I’ll be happy. When I retire, then I’ll be happy, or when I win the lottery, then I’ll be happy. When I got my teaching degree, I thought my whole life was going to change. Now, I thought, I will be happy. But teaching never felt like the Jeep made me feel. What was the difference? I’ll tell you. I was living with the belief that something outside of myself was going to bring happiness to me, that somehow happiness was an outside event that would fill me with joy. But that’s not how it works. Nothing outside of yourself will ever bring you joy. It’s true.
The truth of the matter is that we already have everything we really need inside of us. It’s there! Look for it behind the fear. Beneath the lies. You see, the driver of the Jeep was no different than the driver of the minivan -- no more free, no more adventurous, no more fearless, no more in control. But this was the story I told myself, the story I chose to believe despite proof to the contrary. Looking back now, too often I put my fear ahead of my faith: faith in myself, faith in the adventure of life, faith in unknown destinations, faith in my own power. Instead, I wanted the map. I wanted guarantees. I wanted to know that I wouldn’t get lost if I went down a strange road. Isn’t that what most of us want? A guarantee we won’t get hurt, that we won’t suffer? And here’s the irony, choosing fear causes suffering anyways because the result may bring security, but rarely will it bring the same satisfaction and fulfillment as the choices that align with our God given gifts. For that kind of joy, you need acts of faith.
You want to know you’re alive? You want happiness? Take a risk. Make a choice that honors your gifts and talents and interests, a choice that challenges you to face the very things you may fear the most. Choose a risk that takes you outside of the box you’ve put yourself in. It was never the Jeep -- it was me; it always was. I turned down obscure roads by choice, by faith, not fear. I chose to drive forward with no guarantee that I would not get lost, and I did it by faith, not fear. Faith requires so much more courage than fear ever will! Now, I write a blog. I read Tarot. I interpret dreams. Not really the “typical” choices of a one time stay at home mom or English Literature teacher. But I took a leap, I chose that which stirs my soul and my spirit, and no, none of it really makes “sense” -- this is certainly one obscure road. And where will this take me? I don’t know, but what a ride! What a ride!
A funny thing occurred as I was working on this post. Coming upstairs, I noticed my husband was looking at Jeeps for sale on his computer. I couldn’t help but find this to be an extraordinary coincidence because he didn’t know that I just happened to be writing a post about our Jeep from years before. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he was thinking how nice it might be to have a Jeep to take on long drives and not worry about our car getting ruined on dirt roads. It might bring us more adventure, he thought.
I smiled. How sweet. For years all he heard me talk about was how much I loved that Jeep, how it was the only vehicle I ever really loved, and now he wanted to bring one back.
But I don’t need it anymore.
I’ve chosen faith.