April has started, and the Easter season is in full swing. There’s joy and peace in the air as people rejoice with a halleluiah in their hearts. For me, Lent is a time of struggle while Easter is when I am redeemed and made new – and with new things comes new opportunities. This past Lent I worked on becoming perfectly myself which isn’t always an easy task. I’m not always comfortable with who I am or where I want to be, but I have slowly been uncovering what I’m passionate about: what I want to do, who I want to be, and where I want to go. Isn’t that more important anyway?
I’ve been reflecting on Dr. Greg Bottaro’s quote, “Your happiness is directly connected to you becoming more of who God made you to be.” Wow. This one really weighs on your heart, right?
What does that even mean?
One of my really good friends was recently struggling with a rejection letter into an organization that would ultimately bridge her present with the future. It was an opportunity that she had been wanting to be a part of for so long because she knew it would lead to professional success.
But, when she told me the news, I didn’t ask how it would affect her future. Instead, Dr. Bottaro’s quote is what immediately came to my mind. Sure, I made sure she was okay, but my concerns laid elsewhere.
Would being accepted into your organization have made you happy?
“No. It would have caused me a lot of stress.”
God has a plan for us, and how we get to that plan is a tumultuous road, much like the struggling journey of Lent. Everything in our lives has intent and purpose. Nothing is astray from the plan. We are exactly where we need to be at this very moment in time.
We don’t always get what we want, partly because God knows we may not be ready for it, but partly because it may not help us achieve our goals of enduring happiness. If you give everything to God, you start to realize that worry and fear are deterring you from your ultimate destination. We cannot grasp for what we want. We must stray from instant gratification and give everything to God and in the process, we must discover our deepest inner selves and fall in love with it because when we do that we will truly find true happiness.
After talking with my sweet friend about her rejection, she realized that maybe the life she was pursuing was a life of earthly success instead of divine. She pointed out to me that American culture pushes people to strive for professional success, that we drive ourselves into the ground and lose sight of our passions, friends, and families. It’s easy to get caught up in the future and try to plan the present around it, but we cannot do this. We must expect the impossible and be ready to fall into God’s embrace because no matter what, everything always works out in the end. And more often than not, we always end up in a better position than we ever expected because we trusted in God’s plan – which is infinitely better than anything we could dream.
After this beautiful conversation we shared that evening, my friend suddenly looked up and said, “Emma, let’s go to Greenville.”
Without hesitation I responded with a resolute yes. An hour later the car was packed up and we were on our way.
Traveling is something that we both really enjoy. We like the change of pace and feel of a new place. So many days pass as we ponder turning onto the highway and driving to a new destination. We hadn’t done a weekend trip in so long that we almost lost sight of ourselves. Why?
For the past year, we have been so focused on preparing for our futures that we forgot to pursue our passions.
When we arrived in downtown Greenville at 11 o’clock, we threw the car into park on a side street and walked down Main. We experienced the twinkling lights draped across the canopy of trees, the smell of fresh flowers and water falling over the sides of walls, and the soft murmur of private conversations between couples as we walked down the street. Restaurants were beginning to shut down, and groups were slowly finishing their final drinks. We had no idea where we were planning on sleeping that night, and we didn’t have a care in the world. We finally sat down and looked at the waterway softly flowing past the outdoor amphitheater and breathed in…
This is what we are passionate about.
We are not passionate about mundane courses required for our degrees or what sort of living arrangement we should have next year. We do not busy ourselves with worrying for the future or whether we are good enough. No, we care about the experience of this world and what it has to offer.
The next morning, we woke up to our 3-star hotel bedroom by the Greenville airport in Spartanburg and packed up. We hit the road at 9 o’clock and enjoyed the finest breakfast buffet in the city, Biscuit Head.
Now, we are currently sitting in a coffee shop ten minutes outside of town called Village Grind. We are surrounded by lavender lattes, hanging plants, hardwood and brick, rugs threaded with red and blue, and the comfort of old friends divulging on future plans. What a way to spend a Saturday.
We aren’t thinking about school or what assignment is due next or what “required” obligations we must attend to this weekend. Instead, we are enjoying each other’s company in a city we have wanted to visit for a year, and drinking some of the best locally sourced coffee and food in all of the southeast.
Traveling on a whim can be grandiose or simple. We have anywhere from the hiking down into the Grand Canyon to eating blueberry ice cream in Maine on our Travel Bucket List. To us, it is about experiencing unfamiliar places together. It inspires us. We are better people for it. So, the next time you are struggling or need motivation to discover your purpose, figure out what you’re passionate about and pursue it. Nothing matters more in this world than being happy, so why do we often find every excuse to resist happiness instead of chase after it? Let’s be who we were made to be. Let’s be happy.