Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Road to Becoming

I recently read The Road to Becoming: Rediscovering Your Life in the Not-How-I-Planned-It Moments by Jenny Simmons. I was intrigued when I learned she was the lead singer for Addison Roads, a band I very much like. I did not know much about the band other than I enjoyed the messages of their songs. I had even created a Pandora station for their music. So when I heard that there was a book that talked about the end of the band I was curious to read it.

The book is so much more than the last year of Addison Road, though. It is a memoir of sorts of how Jenny dealt with a number of setbacks that led to the demise of a long-held dream and the birth of a new dream, a new way of life.

The book starts by taking us through a series of unfortunate events that led to the end of the band and Jenny's dream. She is honest about all of her efforts to continue on with her plans despite the signs that it was not in the cards. I know that I can be equally stubborn when I have an agenda I want to see accomplished. I will move forward despite evidence that shows that perhaps it is not the wisest course. We, as people, struggle so much with giving up our dreams or sense of control.

Jenny then talks about her season of burying her dream and waiting for what comes next. She likens it to a desert, a place where it seems no new life could possibly grow. I feel like Americans are especially terrible at waiting, a season that seems stagnant and unproductive. We are all about busyness and moving forward. Sometimes we need to rest and allow healing to happen so that we can receive or cultivate a new dream.

I have friends that are in very tough seasons right now. They may have been waiting for a door to open for them to move forward with plans. Others are going through crisis and sensing that their future is going to look very different from what they planned or imagined. The book talks to both the person waiting and those watching and supporting those who are waiting.

Image created by Denise Kinsey Tyriver

I had a season like this at the end of my college career. I had been dating my boyfriend for over two years and had sensed early on that he was going to be my husband. In the last semester of college, I became frustrated about our relationship situation and began to sense that God was asking me to end the relationship. I balked at the thought and fought God on it for several months. He was persistent in his request. Eventually I realized God was really asking me if I trusted him and his plans for my future over my own. When I saw my dilemma in these terms I knew that I wanted to be obedient and see what God had in mind.

It was so tough giving up my plans for the future but I clung to the hope that God's future for me was even better than what I could ever plan. It was my mantra that got me through all of the awkward conversations with family and friends about the break up.

The last section of the book is about the imagining and development of a new dream and new future. It reminds us that without death there can't be new life. It talks about saying yes to the adventure of each new day, open to whatever may be in store.

This book is full of so much wisdom and encouragement that, no matter where you are in life, there is something that can help and encourage you. I have written some of my favorite quotes from the book. I hope you will also find some wisdom in this book.

I had spent years encouraging other people to live by faith but I had no idea how to live by it.

Security has become the drug of choice for religious people who don't really want to live by faith.

Turns out, following God-sized epiphanies doesn't guarantee instant happiness.

The hardest part of suffering is that the rest of the world keeps going like nothing has happened.

Usually the hardest part is doing what you already know you need to do.

I don't believe God ordains pain and chaos; I believe He redeems pain and chaos.

If compassion, humor, and careful insistence on closure are gifts that we give our children when they are dealing with loss, why should we treat our own grief any differently as adults?

The only choice I get is what to do when the road suddenly ends.

When my life intersects with the world's brokenness, Emmanuel intersects with me. God with us.

As a person of faith, I am invited to live in the tension of believing that God is present and at work, whether I see immediate evidence of it or not.

During seasons of waiting, dreams are growing up.

Watching someone else wait is like watching a slug die. Brutal. Tie that in with the threat of failure as the end result and we almost can't bear it.

What every saint must wrestle with: If God doesn't step in and divinely change where I find myself on this piece of broken earth, do I still trust Him? Can I still live my story well?

New life looks like being faithful in the little things.