(Thank you to my wonderful husband, Mike, for the following guest post:)
For the first time in a while, maybe ever, I don’t know the next step.
Until I was twenty-five, I was a continuous student, with always another school year to tackle. My first two jobs I lined up over a year in advance. A year ago, we were moving across country and expecting a baby. Eight months ago, we found out Ali had cancer. Last week, we found out that the cancer is gone. Now, we have no immediate decision to make, and no obvious path. I’m not really sure what to do.
Over the past few days I struggled a lot with this feeling, but yesterday I came to terms with it. And here’s why: I realized that the most important and wonderful turning point in my life was completely unexpected and unplanned.
Many of you know that Allison and I met on the first day of class during our freshman year at Notre Dame. The nine years since then have been unquestionably better than the eighteen before. Looking back, then, on the single most important change in my life, what can I learn from my own experience?
When I met Ali, I was open and unafraid. I was at a new place, with all new people. Yet, for some reason I felt no hesitation in introducing myself to the beautiful girl sitting next to me in class. And once we started dating, plenty of my friends suggested that I should avoid tying myself down (I was at a school with four thousand college-aged women, after all). But, it didn’t bother me that I was taking a chance on this one relationship that felt right. Had I approached the situation rationally, or with some sort of plan in place, things could have worked out completely different — and I am certain not nearly as well.
So, it seems that my lack of anxiety about the future, is precisely what created my future. A second before I walked into O’Shaughnessy Hall in August 2002, I had no clue what was about to happen. Now, I get to spend every day with the incredible woman who writes this blog because I wasn’t afraid to ask her out — even when I was a dorky, awkward eighteen year-old, six hundred miles from home — and because I wasn’t scared to throw myself 100% into a relationship, even though I was warned otherwise.
Why then, should I ever spend time worrying about what will happen next? Instead, I should only be concerned with how I’ll handle whatever happens next.
I know it’s hokey, and sports analogies aren’t exactly this blog’s stock in trade, but I want to share the mantra of my favorite fictional football coach, Eric Taylor, of the TV show Friday Night Lights, because I think it hits this point on the head. Before leaving the locker room, Coach Taylor always has his players repeat the mantra, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” When I think about this mindset beyond the immediate gridiron implications, I am reminded to actually see what life is giving me, without the cloud of fear or anxiety. I am reminded to live life with passion, and to not worry about whether each step is the “right” one. I am reminded rather to trust that with clear eyes and a full heart, I will learn from each step, and end up fulfilled, even if the destination is a different place than what I ever imagined.
My prayer for you today is that you embrace the unknown next step. Don’t waste time worrying about what’s going to happen next, just be ready to face it when it comes — whatever it is — with clear eyes and a full heart.
Thank you for joining Allison on her 31 day challenge.
Day 1: Be Not Afraid
Day 2: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Day 3 Keeping a Faithful Heart in Light of Suffering
Day 4: Facing Fears with Laughter
Day 5: Listening to My Heart
Day 6: Daring to Love Myself in Order to Love Others
Day 7: Opening Up My Idea of a Remarkable Life
Day 8: Giving Voice to My Fears
Day 9: Being a Bearer of Joy
Day 10 & 11: Give Everything
Day 12: Switching My Focus
Day 13: Reaching Out
Day 14 & 15: Letting Go
Day 16: Giving Voice to My Dreams
Day 17: Putting Fear into Action
And click here to read all the other wonderful blogs joining in on this challenge!