I wrote yesterday that if we don't have boundaries, our distractions will turn into legitimate detours.
It's the difference between seeing something shiny out of the car window and rubbernecking as we drive past, and pulling the heck over to get a closer look. Sometimes we turn onto another road altogether because we thought we saw a spot of color amid the trees.
If this were a horror movie, all the other characters would be screaming at us not to do that.
The problem with this is that we are missing what is the actual point.
We are distracted by a shiny thing. This is normal, but if we look back at the Road, then we'll get our focus back.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted to the point of taking action -- then it becomes a detour that we have taken.
We have wandered off the path.
By this point, I've written obliquely around my own story enough that if you've been around here, you know what I've gone through since April/May-ish.
But I think the whole thing bears telling in full.
The story of my own very recent detour.
I've wanted to go to graduate school to get my Master's in Voice Performance since I was eighteen, which is since I knew it was a thing I could do. I love performing, and I love music, and it sounds so ridiculously inane and mundane to put it that way, but I have no other way of saying it. I wrote somewhere else that I've got music in my veins, like a gold and silver staff (except that music is much more than what's on staff paper -- but I digress.)
I didn't get into grad school during my first round of auditions, when I was a senior in college. I've written extensively about that, too -- suffice it to say that I was gutted. And I took the following year, the 2016-2017 school year, to work and practice A TON and do the auditions again. This time around, the second round of auditions, I was accepted to 75% of the schools at which I auditioned, including a very prestigious institution -- and that with a scholarship! I was so pleased and proud and rejoicing in the victory that God gave me. He is so good, y'all. I picked where I wanted to go; I committed -- I hadn't paid anyone any money yet, but I was all set to go. I was so excited.
I remember it must have been around late April or early May. I don't know where it came from. I remember at one point during my grad school prep, my mom told me over the phone, "Honey, if you don't want to go to grad school, you don't have to. No one is making you go." I was bemused by such a statement. "I know, Mama -- but... I mean, I'm going. I want to go." She knew, but she also knew, you know?
She must have heard it in my voice.
She had been with me on my last audition when my head was absolutely not in the game. Incidentally, that audition was for the only school that didn't admit me, and I find it impossible to believe that the two aren't connected.
Gah, you guys, this is so painful for me to write about, and everything in me is screaming against it, but I promised I would be vulnerable. Honestly, I can't tell anymore if I'm vulnerable or oversharing. It feels stupid to tell you this.
What had happened was that I met a boy.
Never in my life would I ever abandon my plans in life for a guy. And there was nothing about our relationship that made me think that I needed to not go to grad school for him -- absolutely nothing. I didn't do it for him. But I wouldn't have thought of it at all if I hadn't met him.
Please understand me. Please.
Anyway, around late April or early May I asked myself in my morning pages what would happen if I didn't go to grad school. It had been building up in my chest, in my heart, for a few weeks, and I had been studiously avoiding the question, until I couldn't.
And when I wrote it, something released. I cried and heaved, because I wanted to go, truly, and I felt that I should. But I didn't think the feeling of should was a good reason.
Looking back, it was such a confused time of what feels like rushed decision-making. I remember sitting at my parents' kitchen table on the weekend of my brother's high school graduation, in my pajamas, being grilled by my dad: what would I do instead? What would I do, if I didn't go to music school?
I remember Daddy saying he was relieved I wasn't going to music school.
I remember being on the phone with a friend and asking if he thought my motivations were pure.
I prayed and cried and sloughed off the sensation of should. And I felt God telling me: stay.
So I did, and it was a relief.
But then the mist set in.
It wasn't darkness, it didn't feel black. But for months a cloudiness surrounded me, and I didn't sing, except for when I felt like I should or I needed to -- and when I sang, I started longing again, longing for music school, for the thing I'd assumed was my calling for four years but all those four years feared was just selfish ambition.
I don't think I'm making sense. I'm just trying to get it out, really.
So I didn't sing. I couldn't deal with my own sensations of longing for something I thought was wrong.
Somewhere in there my mama told me, "Honey, it's okay if you want to go to grad school." God bless my mama.
I don't think I noticed what was going on in my heart until he came ovver to my apartment late one Friday night (I remember the exact date -- July 14) and ended things with me.
I remember being numb. I couldn't cry at first.
Until I did.
And I felt like the biggest idiot. For hoping in that relationship, mostly. But I also thought I had ruined my life by not going to music school. I had deferred my enrollment, not declined it -- just pushed it back. And now I'm thanking God for that. But I felt like a fool.
Even looking back, my motivations are so mixed-up. I did pray, and I did feel the voice of God, and I know that the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear. And I believe that the Spirit of God works through things like this, and that it will be better thus. Even now, I feel more ready to go to grad school than ever I have before, and this time, as much as one can know something like this in advance, I know that it is going to happen; all the glory to my immortal God.
But at the same time.
The detour brought on the despair.
And the detour, I will admit now, was him.
Mixed motivations and all, listening to the voice of God, prayer and everything -- the shiny thing I went off the road to seek was him. He was the distraction that turned into something more sinister. He didn't, per se -- but the distractive nature of it was insidious, silently killing me.
And when I went off the Road, it tried to strangle me.
I was depressed for several months. The mist -- it was a real thing. And I am only now beginning to emerge, but the wounds are still so raw and full of sadness that I want to cry as I write this.
I want to make clear that this isn't his fault. It's mine. From top to bottom -- the way I dealt with calling is my own doing. It isn't his fault.
It's not the shiny thing's fault. We are the ones that allow the distractions to creep under the door, under our skin, until they bury themselves into the warmth of our souls.
And I don't even know if I want to call it my fault. But it was my doing.
Like I said, this is part of a mini series-within-a-series, and I think this post is already kind of long enough, so I'll leave off there. I'll say more tomorrow and Monday.
I tell you this story to say what I have said before: Sometimes we let the distractions swell in our minds. Sometimes we turn away from the Road -- not because of a divine call, but because we see something that for a minute looks better than the divine purpose of God.
And sometimes that's because we can't see the divine call for what it is. I certainly couldn't. I didn't know I was called by God to be a musician.
This is my cautionary tale.
But I want to leave you with a note of hope:
Sometimes the delay is divine, whether the enemy intends it that way or not.
What he intends for evil, God intends for good.
But we'll talk about that tomorrow. For now, it is enough to know: what we mess up, God will never leave. He stitches our tears back together, and the story becomes more beautiful for the redemption.