By Hannah Burnett
There are more than 500 miles between my childhood home and where my navigation app is leading me now. It’s getting dark, and the dusky sky makes the low rolling hills of dry weeds, run-down houses, and nothingness seem almost beautiful.
A few weeks before the move, a friend who lives in the area was trying to describe my new neighborhood. She was at a loss and when she realized she didn’t know street names, she answered with, “Well, it’s sort of out there ... in the boonies.”
I packed boxes in my 1998 Oldsmobile, affectionately referred to as “The Granny Car,” and moved. The living situation I have, aside from being in a strange area, is actually very ideal. I have cheap rent, great roommates, a nice house and the whole situation seems like it was God-ordained. That last part, however, is the part I’ve been wrestling with. It’s hard to believe anything in my life is ordained when it all seems so messy.
Tonight as I drive to my house I can’t help but think about my friend’s description. My headlights shine yellow over the patched asphalt and reveal a wad of dried grass that seems to be walking into the road.
“Is that a tumbleweed?” I wonder. “Is this the Wild West? What am I doing out here?”
The question “What am I doing out here?” struck a cord, reverberating as something deep and gripping in my heart.
I slumped down a little in my seat and let my head hit the headrest. This is the kind of road you drive down and wonder at what point you took a wrong turn. Nothing has been working out how I anticipated.
The Granny Car took a pothole rougher than I anticipated and I press on the brakes. She is an old girl after all.
Where am I going? What was I thinking? How did I end up here?
These are all questions I have been asking myself since graduating from college. The relative predictability of being a student is a luxury I didn’t realize I enjoyed. The ambiguity of job searching and the amount of free time this season allows for has left me in a state of uncomfortable quietness. Life transitions often bring deep-level questions up to the surface about identity and purpose, but we have to be brave enough to stick around and find out the answers. Before, I could drown out these questions with tasks and numb my unsettled feelings with busyness. Now, I am left with no other distractions besides the rattling of my car and the bumps in this road.
Does a rough road mean that I am lost? If something is hard does that mean it’s not meant to be? No, our call is to endurance and perseverance, not to find the easiest route.
I pull into the driveway and take the key out of the ignition. My headlights turn off and the landscape fades to black. I let all of those thoughts and feelings settle as I sit in the car for a minute. Sometimes I wonder if I made a wrong turn. Or if I’m just really bad at directions.
Then I remembered a gentle voice that had cut through my doubts and fear as I prayed earlier that day.
“Will you allow Me to lead you in a direction you are not expecting?”
There is beauty in the struggle because it’s in pressing into these questions that Jesus invites us to Himself. We come to a greater understanding of who we are, who God is, and what He is doing in the world.
So yes, even into the boonies and even though I am often confused and afraid, I have this hope and I will follow. Maybe the formation of my heart is of far more significant to God than whatever may come next.