Back-to-school: The In-Between
I went on a walk this morning and the normally quiet street was bustling with activity. Coffee-clutching moms appeared from doors all down the block, herding bleary-eyed kids into the mini vans parked out front. The kids had starchy, new backpacks—the kind that were carefully picked out but whose straps haven’t quite broken in yet.
The kids looked shiny and hopeful, dressed head-to-toe in their first day best, but a bit like they didn’t belong—new and wide-eyed for their first day in a new grade—intimidated by the 10 months of unknowns that now stretched before them.
I’ve felt smug, really, in this back-to-school season—clutching my coffee as well as I pile into my car. I think (sometimes out loud, and always in a braggy tone) how happy I am that they’re going to school and I’m going somewhere else—somewhere I know I enjoy a million times more.
I did well in school, but I never quite loved it. It was something I gritted through—doing my best (ish) and learning my most important lessons outside the classroom walls.
My favorite part of back-to-school was the school supplies (I’m still a sucker for anything office-related). I would pick out my pens carefully, packing them into a meticulously selected pencil box. At one point pens were a publically traded commodity—the coolest girls having the widest variety of colors. But other than my fascination with school supplies, back-to-school was something I dreaded.
And so now, especially in comparison to the oppressive yellow of the school bus, my grown-up job feels like freedom. My job feels like a treat—like a constant elective or never-ending recess. Today I feel alive and purposeful in the space behind my desk, and best of all; I don’t have to ask permission to use the bathroom.
Carl and I road-tripped to Indiana last weekend and on our way home we powered through the nine-hour drive with the help of Spotify and several naps (well… I got to nap…)
For the last hour of the drive we both sat awake, the music loud and the windows open, staring off into the distance, lost in thought.
I watched as the rolling green hills zoomed by, dotted by the occasional red barn and grazing cows to match. I looked up at the huge trees that fill the sky in the south and remembered moving here last year, and the magic of the leaves in the fall.
And all of a sudden I realized that although I may not be going back to school, that a season of change is still rapidly approaching.
The sweet slow rhythm of the summer is beginning to fade and something entirely new is picking up pace.
Lots of things are staying the same, mind you, which is a great relief compared to last year.
Last year at this time, I was coming home from a year on the mission field, cramming in as much time with my family and friends as possible, and packing up my life to move to a state I’d never been to before. I was ending a relationship, starting a blog, starting a job and then starting a new relationship.
The world felt chaotic and scary—and I cried for weeks as the change rocked all of the things I thought were solid on my insides.
And now a year later, things are changing again. The changes are smaller in some ways, but bigger in others, but still—it’s change.
And as we drove, I realized that there are some things I want to do differently this time around.
Last year was all about survival—it was about holding on and doing my best and gritting through change that rocked my very core.
There are habits that I dropped and new ones that I picked up, all a bit on accident—the by-product of letting my chaotic lifestyle seep in a bit too deeply.
And so this time around, I want to make some intentional choices about my daily life.
I want less TV and more inspiration, more rest and less purposeless busyness. I want my Bible to be my go-to in the morning instead of my email accounts, and I want to take long, deep breaths as often as I possibly can.
This last year was one of the hardest and most transformative of my life—a year of stepping into the big things I was made to do, and all of the stress, confusion, and doubts that come along with it.
And it was good. There were more beautiful moments this year than I’ve ever seen before, and I’m grateful for what they, and the hard ones were able to do in me.
But I’m ready for a new season.
I’m ready to end this year well and to start the next one on purpose—taking on this next change with purpose, grace, and a carefully chosen new set of pens.
In this interim season of life, I’ve been provided with an excellent source of inspiration. Jeff Goins is a wonderful writer that I’ve had the privilege of working with for the past year. His most recent book, The In-Between, talks about embracing the tension between now and the next big thing. Jeff is a writer that’s learned lessons the hard way, who writes with vulnerability, the truth he’s learned along the way.
This book is a fantastic companion to fall—a book that invites you to embrace every shade of beauty that can be found in the in-between. I encourage you to check it out.