Scripture: Proverbs 29:18
When I was in college I used to decoupage the covers of my journals. I would cut out pictures from magazines and print out inspirational quotes and craft the perfect cover for whatever season of life I was in. Like a vision board, but I could write in it.
I would fill the pages with hopes and prayers; goals and the frustrations I encountered while trying to achieve them. There are beautiful and profound entries in those journals if I look back at them. The day I first discerned a call to ministry. The moment I fell in love with my husband. And? At some point, I stopped making journals.
Maybe it was because after I graduated I had less time to do things like tea-stain pages of inspirational quotes to Mod Podge onto composition books. I think more than that though, I started to be afraid of dreaming too big or too far ahead.
When I was in college, I had all the answers to life and a one-year, five-year, and ten-year plan.
Now, ten years later, I have zero answers (but I ask better questions!) and I am not sure what I am cooking for dinner on Friday, let alone where I hope to be in five years.
I’m not exactly sure when I gave up on making long-term plans, but I did, slowly. Until last year when I was asked to set long term goals in an internship for my Master’s program.
I was hesitant. Writing down things I want to do, or hope to do, or feel called to do, even if only to be read by a trusted mentor felt incredibly risky. What if I pick the wrong things? What if I don’t measure up to my own vision of myself? What if I just fail at all of it?
If I don’t set my heart on anything then it’s less likely that it falls off and shatters into pieces when that precarious balance of looking to the future gets off-kilter.
But I wrote out some goals, per my mentor (and the course syllabus) and I tried it.
A year later, a lot of those plans have not panned out.
A lot of things I thought sounded so perfect and so good, either didn’t work or they really sucked.
And? Some things did work. Some plans did fall into place. Some of the foiled plans pointed me to new paths that I’m staring at, trying to decide where they lead and if I want to try out this new windy road.
I don’t know what the proper balance between THIS IS MY ALMIGHTY VISION! and “meh, whatever happens, happens” is, but I think it’s an important one to work towards striking.
I’ve heard Proverbs 29:18 quoted far too much for one lifetime. “Where there is no vision the people perish,” highly motivational preachers warn as they instruct their listeners to write out God’s vision for their lives. It seems a bit audacious at best, and downright anxiety-inducing for me most days.
The word for vision though could also be translated “prophecy” or “revelation.” A word from the Lord. And prophecies were given not so much to predict the future, but to tell the truth about today.
So maybe it would be fair to say instead “When I can’t tell the truth about who I am, and how I understand God to be with me, today, I waste away.” That ultimately it’s okay to have big plans and exciting dreams, or small plans and simple dreams, or anything in between. And that it’s okay if they don’t pan out for whatever reason. And it’s okay to celebrate, and grieve, and try again, and show up trembling and tentative because hope is a demonstration that we’re still human. And that is, and has always been, very good.
Maybe I have a hard time telling the truth about where I hope to be five years because I have a hard time telling the truth about where I am today.
As you consider this week’s theme of “vision” today, take some time to be honest with yourself about where you are, and who you are today. In AA they call it a searching and fearless moral inventory. I call it “the thoughts I run from by scrolling through Twitter.” Whatever you call it, don’t check out. Embrace vision first by looking honestly at yourself.