I hardly know where to begin from where I left off yesterday.
I almost want to say, "Oh, where was I?" Though I know precisely where I was.
I had put off graduate school because I felt like I should. I felt a motion in my soul, like a negative magnet, away from grad school. Away from the expected path, I guess. I don't know that even now I can be relied upon to give an accurate testimony of my own feelings then.
Something yanked me away from wanting to go to graduate school, and it was a relief.
It was like one of those cartoons where the shepherd's crook comes in from the side of the screen, loops itself around the comically beset character's neck, and yanks them offstage. It had that kind of force, that kind of jerk, and it was a relief to give in to it.
I submitted paperwork to defer my enrollment at my chosen school. You can defer (push back) your enrollment for up to a year before you have to submit a new application. I was positive I wouldn't want to go to school there, or anywhere, for music, but I figured it was smart to just defer, not decline.
Current Sara is falling on her knees and thanking God for this.
I wrote about it a lot. Many, many people were incredibly kind to me. It was during this time that I realized again that I was loved, weirdly.
I pondered other courses of action to take, other things to do with my life. I was intrigued by a couple of them, but I have to be honest: none of them ever really took root in my soul. It all felt very hollow after a while.
One aspect of my outlook on the world that I've come to discover over the last few months, from this very episode, is that I cannot fathom living a life of simply going to work to pay the bills. I cannot comprehend doing work in which I do not believe, work that does not fulfill me. Work that does nothing for me besides cover my living expenses is not work for me. I cannot survive in such a modicum of existence. Something in my soul days.
And y'all, that's what happened to me in June and July. I was just working at a job that simply pays my bills (most of the time). I wasn't singing; I was writing a lot, but somethign felt missing. Something in me sank, felt very heavy. I wasn't dreaming. As you read this, you can probably tell what was wrong. I can, too, looking back. It's always easier in hindsight, or when you're outside the frame.
I wasn't doing the things that fed my soul. I was just -- I havve written here before thta we cannot possibly be born to work, pay bills, and die. Looking back on that time, I perceive that that's kind of what I was doing.
What bothered me in a search for vocation is that nothing felt fulfilling the way music had done. Nothing spoke to my soul in the same way. I sensed that. I think my parents thought I waas being stupid, being nonsensical. I do value practicality, truly -- I am, after all, my father's daughter. But I have learned that I am unable to live if the way I make my life does not feel valuable, if it does not talk to me in the deepest part of who I am.
So I had delayed.
I don't know what to say about it other than that.
But the delay came to a tapering-off end when, one Monday night, July 10, 2017, I was listening to a Bach cantata as I wandered around my room at night, wrapping up for the day, and I suddenly found myself on the floor of my room, crying as I realized:
I couldn't not sing this music.
I couldn't not go on to play the roles I'd always dreamed of playing.
It was like dreaming suddenly would not be cowed any longer by fear and the devil. It woke up and started screaming at me in italics. Dreaming would not be ignored.
I called my best friend Chaz, who had listened so patiently when I told him I thought maybe I wasn't supposed to go to grad school. Who I knew would tell me the truth.
I don't remember a ton of that conversation. In fact, I don't have clear, factual memories of much of this four-month-ish period. I remember feelings; I remember emotions; I remember knife-wrenching pain and a lot of misty sleepiness. In fact, I think I was walking around in mist for much of it (and that's what depression is, guys -- but that's tomorrow's post; spoiler alert).
I don't have a lot of hard, factual memory -- but I do remember that I told Chaz -- confessed, like I was telling a secret -- that I felt like God was telling me I needed to go to music school. I couldn't describe it, but I felt it deeply in my gut (His response was to say, "Um, yeah, you are").
I kept that to myself for a while. Tried to, anyway. I have absolutely no poker face, and I'm sure my parents suspected before I ever told them.
And since this story is becoming more and more serialized than ever I intended, maybe that's a bit for later.
But today is about the delay, and so I want to tell you a couple of things that have occurred to me in the course of this delay period.
When I felt like I had made a fool of myself and ruined my life by delaying my grad school enrollment -- when I told Chaz I had made a mistake (and he roundly contradicted me) -- I heard the principle that had been drilled into me as a church brat echoing on the wind.
And the Holy Spirit, like the wind and in it, whispered to me the words of Joseph to his brothers: "What you intended for evil, God intended for good."
There are many reasons it's wonderful to have grown up in church. One of them is that verses like that are as much a part of you as your atoms and breath. Stuff like that is in your bloodstream. So much so that it was the only thing I could do to believe it.
I believe that God brings beauty from ash. I believe that God can work in the things we mess up -- not only that He can, but He does.
I believe that God will bring something full of wonder out of this. I believe that it will make my story better.
But there's more to it than that.
The reason Chaz roundly contradicted me when I said that I had made a mistake was that I had sought the wisdom of God when I was initially making the decision not to go. "No," he said firmly. "No. You stop that right now. You prayed about it. You listened to the Holy Spirit. Don't do that. You didn't make a mistake."
And he was right. I felt the voice of God in my gut, in a way that I've heard before. That I recognized as His voice.
This leads me to only one belief: God did speak to me, and while it felt like I had ruined my life, what I had done is respond to the strange, upside-down prompting of God. And that can only mean that it was supposed to happen like this.
This is supposed to be part of my story.
There is beautiful purpose to this.
Recently I was hanging out with a friend of mine, with whom I used to work. She told me that when I had first done my auditions, she hadn't seen the spark of excitement within me that she had hoped to see. She did not perceive that I was joyful at the new horizon before me. Now, she said, now, in the fall of 2017, on the other side of my despair, she saw the spark -- but then she had not. That was telling to me. Maybe that means that the timing still wasn't right back then -- I just couldn't see it.
Maybe it means that the time wasn't right then -- but maybe it is now.
No one can really ever say for certain; no one can view anything with certainty until it is behind us and we can look back on it and not wish it away.
But it was telling to me all the same.
It's a struggle between believing I made an absolutely God-awful mistake and believing that God was in my actions, cloudy though they were.
Really, I don't believe I made a mistake. I don't believe I was fully conscious of what I was doing. I was intoxicated by a despair I didn't even recognize, let alone understand.
What's comforting is that even while everything was misty and I couldn't see my hand in front of my face, even while I was sad with a sadness that was soul-level deep, God was still directing my steps.
With my mixed motivations, with the way I was pressing my ear to the ground and trying to hear God's voice, all of it -- I was being led.
Jesus took my hands and placed them on the keyboard and said, It's okay. Stay.
And I did.
And then in July, He took my hands again and said, My darling: go.
And I will.