I must be the worst New Year’s resolution-er ever in the history of life. Because my first resolution (if you can call it that…it’s more of a request, really) is to get myself into some ridiculous situations this year. I know it’s weird. And I know I should be careful what I wish for. Buuuut…
Ever since I can remember, my one real goal in life, the summation of what I hoped to achieve when all is said and done, was this: I want to have stories when I’m old. I know that sounds like a terrible goal. Why not “make the world a better place” or “leave a legacy?” First of all….that’s just too cliche for me. Second of all…I grew up on stories. I was surrounded by parents and their friends who always had these amazing stories of fun and laughter and seeing God work in incredible ways. I LOVED it. I couldn’t wait to grow up and tell my children similar stories of laughter, love, miracles, characters, and shenanigans. In my head, having stories to tell kind of equates to living a rich and full life. Not saying it’s true, it’s just how my little brain has added things up.
So I’ve spent my life trying to do all the cool things I could think of so I could have this storied life…only to realize that no one wants to hear the story of how I went skydiving once or learned to sail or went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. However, I can gather a rapt audience if I tell the story of how a bear literally caught me with my pants down while I was going to the bathroom on a hiking trip last year, or how my hardhat at Pearl Harbor was issued to me with the words “A. Horney Mechanical Engineer” stenciled across the front. And I’ve sloooooowly realized that I’ve had it backward.
You don’t get to write your own stories. The best stories, the best experiences, aren’t the ones that are planned and cultivated and controlled. Those can be fun, of course. I loved snorkeling and sailing and (kind of) skydiving. But the experiences that have helped me learn the most, grow the most, and generally have the most fun are not frequently planned and, astonishingly (to me, at least), rarely much fun in the moment. We were watching Meat Eater recently, and the host said something that I found profound. He said, “A roller coaster is the lowest level of fun. That quick fun that’s over and doesn’t stick with you. The highest level of fun is the thing you don’t realize was fun until years later.” (Very paraphrased.)
It’s true! Often, at least. The times I remember the most fondly, the ones I look back and laugh at were generally either embarrassing, nerve-wracking, uncomfortable, insurmountable, emotional, confusing, etc. etc. etc. at the time. Senior year of college. (Good grief, I was stressed out, overworked, always busy, frustrated, and extremely emotional. I was in the computer lab probably 60 hours a week struggling with endless problem sets. I freaking loved it.) YWAM. (I literally stopped wearing makeup because I cried every day and I got tired of having mascara everywhere. I’ve never felt closer to God and my relationship with Him has permanently changed because of that experience. It will forever go down as one of the best times of my life.) Backpacking the Bob Marshall Wilderness. (Everything hurt. Everything. I had a handkerchief that was actually stiff from blowing my nose on it so much and I had to poo outside for a week. During one of those times a bear charged at me. My worst nightmare literally came true. But it was hilarious and taught me how strong I can be. Would do it again in a heartbeat.) That spontaneous weekend on Maui. (It was supposed to be a huge group but ended up being me, a friend, and two complete strangers who were friends of friends. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to catch the sunrise on Haleakala and I got extremely carsick on the way. We hiked twelve miles through a volcano and I literally only finished because I was determined that I would not be medevaced out of there. It rained our entire last day. Still to this day one of the best vacations of my life.)
I’ve just started putting this together recently. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to control my life so I can avoid uncomfortable, scary, or embarrassing moments. Only to realize in hindsight that those are kind of the best ones. Those are the times that make life spicy and unexpected and vivid. So this year, it’s time to start embracing those moments. As one of my YWAM school leaders was fond of saying, “Funny later, funny now.”
So, you see, it’s not quite such a weird resolution after all. It’s more about me seeing the humor in life, recognizing that letting go a bit and giving GOD room to work (even in ways that I may not quite appreciate at the time) is a good thing. It’s about getting out of my routine and into the world so God has the room to open up unexpected doors for me. It’s about laughing instead of wincing or crying or ranting. About “embracing the suck.” And the awkward. It’s encouragement for me to say yes when a friend asks me to go do something last-minute. It’s incentive to take the chance on opportunities that sound like they’ll be over my head. It’s stepping back for once to let GOD take the lead in my life. And I’m sure that’s gonna put me in the middle of some crazy shenanigans, because heaven knows this crazy-awesome Father of mine has quite a sense of humor. I’m excited (and kind of nervous…) to see where this goes. Happy 2019 everybody!