One of my favorite quotes comes from Shauna Neiquist’s book Bittersweet. She quotes a close friend who is always giving her the following advice: God doesn’t always speak to people the same way, but he usually speaks to the same person the same way. I’ve never heard God’s voice….directly. I’ve never been walking in nature and heard a deep thunderous voice shake the grounds and speak from above. I’ve never heard Him speak gently in my ear in a hushed whisper. Even in my thoughts, I have trouble discerning which voice is His. But that doesn’t mean I’ve never heard God speak to me. I think He probably speaks to me more than I give Him credit for. I often hear God’s voice in the way my friend cleans my room because I’m too heartbroken to get out of bed. I hear Him in the coffee a friend brings to me in bed, just the way I like it, because I overslept and didn’t wake early enough to make it myself. I hear Him in a half dozen box of doughnuts that a friend bought for us to share for breakfast one rainy Sunday morning. I hear Him in voicemails…a lot, because now that I’ve graduated my friends and I have different schedules and sometimes all we can do is leave a short message for the other one to find. You might be thinking, Ashley you don’t hear God in any of those things, rather you see God. You, reader, you are correct. I see God in these moments, but I also hear Him. You know that phrase actions speak louder than words? Well, it’s kinda like that. My friends’ actions speak God’s words. For instance, when a friend cleans my room because I can’t seem to move because my body aches from a broken heart, I hear God say, “it’s okay sweet girl, let me take care of you.” Or when a friend brings me coffee in bed, He says, “rest dear darling. Let me serve you today.” Or when a friend buys me doughnuts, I hear the Big Man say, “Treat yo self!” Or when I receive a voicemail, He nods and says, “know that I’m here with you.” I always use to envy people who heard God’s voice, the people who so easily heard Him when He spoke. But I’m learning, note the present tense, God speaks to me in a different way. And I kind of like to think its “our” thing. No one knows me better than the Man Upstairs, so it makes sense that he would speak to me in a way he knows I would recognize. That way just so happens to be through those that are closest to me because He knows if He were to speak to me directly I would doubt if I heard Him at all. He gets me, and He gets you too. He’s speaking to you, I am sure of it, but only in a way that He knows you’ll understand. What’s that for you?
Can we agree on something? No matter how much you prepare, whenever it’s time for you to leave the nest and face the world on your own, it hits you hard and knocks the breath out of you. Would you agree? I know I wasn’t the only student to graduate in May. I know there are hundreds of thousands of other newly crowned post-grads out in the world trying to make sense of this transition. But despite that knowledge, it is so easy for my mind to trick me into believing it’s me against the world (the lesser known single from the hit girl band play). One day, I’m a full time student whose biggest concern is passing all her classes. Then the next day, I wake up to my own office and extension and am expected to fill out a W-2 form. (On a side note: how was that not a class in college? It would have been very helpful.) I have worked for this moment for the last twenty-one years. I only know life as a student, and everything I have been working towards is to prepare me for this: a full time job. Regardless, post grad life has caught me off guard. I now live in the big city. My friends are no longer all within a ten mile radius of me, and I am realizing the world is much bigger than my college town. Naps are no longer an option and a lunch box has become a part of my daily routine again. The phrase, choose joy, has never been more real to me and the word budget has now become my daily vocabulary word. Naturally, in the beginning there are tears and lots of wallowing. There still are. Those first few weeks I flew back home to the nest, A LOT. I still do. On the bright side, I showed up for work today and I consider that a victory. Really and truly. Life right now scares me, so the fact that I was able to get of bed this morning is saying something. I tend to not want to tackle something until I have a game plan, but currently the drawing board is blank. Right now there are lots of changes and transitions, both of which I do not handle well, but I am in the process of accepting that I’m never going to be prepared for the world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t face it head on.