Choose Your Own Adventure.
Did you ever read those books as a kid? You know the ones that allow you to actively participate in the story and help the plot unfold by making key decisions at critical points? They were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and they are still among the favorites of my own kids today. It’s always so exciting to be in control. You get to decide important things like, “if you choose to follow the mysterious tracks into the dark woods, turn to page 45”, “if you choose to return to the safety of your cabin to call for help, turn to page 62”. There are several crossroads the characters face and their fate is in your hands.
I think life is like a choose your own adventure story. At least mine seems to be! If you would have asked me 10 years ago what do you think your life story will look like? I would have told you that my husband would be in some type of formal ministry, probably as a pastor until the day he retires. We would have 4 children, a comfortable home with a whirlpool in the back yard and a cute dog which never has an accident on the carpet. Circle back to 2007. After having 3 successful pregnancies and beautiful children to show for it I started having miscarriages. I was diagnosed with a health condition and the dream of having 4 children became unrealistic for us.
Jump ahead to 2009. After serving in youth ministry for 8+ years at 2 different churches a serious evaluation of our family and our current stress levels led us to a decision which would take us out of full-time ministry at least for the time being. Time to choose our own adventure. What would we do at this crossroads? If you would again ask me what my life story would like at the end of 2009 and even up until the summer of 2012 I would have said my husband is going to be a police officer and we are going to live somewhere exciting or beautiful, the big city or near a lake. He will be great at what he does and we will find the best church to be involved in and life will be perfect again. Our crossroads in 2009 had taken us back to Minnesota and my husband had decided on a career in law enforcement. He finished school in 2011 and was a top candidate for several positions. We were now pursuing the adventure of police work.
At the end of the summer of 2012 William was involved in the accident (see previous post). After walking through this painful, life changing ordeal, we made the decision that Nick would no longer pursue a career in law enforcement. He said that he has a great job right now that is relatively stress free and allows him the flexibility to be there for us when we need him. Law enforcement would be the exact opposite. Well, yesterday we got a call. It was the chief of police in a dept. Nick would love to work in. He questioned, “Would you consider moving on in the process with us? We are very interested in you.” This offer would likely lead to a position within the next 3 months and I would find myself married to a police officer. Crossroads. Choose your own adventure. Turn to page 108 if you choose to pursue a career in law enforcement. Turn to page 97 if you stick to your original decision and stay put.
One of the best parts of the Choose Your Own Adventure books is following a decision out to the end but then going back and trying out a different ending next time. When we reach the last page of a scenario my kids eagerly plead, “Now let’s go back to this part and choose to do the other thing!” So many options, so many endings. Right about now I am really wishing we had this wonderful feature in real life. We have made so many decisions, had so many experiences, been forced in so many directions and willfully chosen others. I wonder what my life would have looked like if we had stayed in ministry and we were able to have more children? I wonder what my life would look like if Nick were a police officer? How does it look if we just keep doing what we are doing right now? I want to flip the pages and see what ending I like best and then follow that path. If only it were that easy. But if it really were that easy, if we could see the outcome of every choice, would it really be an adventure?
The very definition of adventure is an exciting or very unusual experience, participation in exciting undertakings, a bold usually risky undertaking. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum the antonym of adventure is literally listed as “a sure thing.” Hmm, what is more appealing? Many days I think I would opt for the sure thing. Especially as a woman, I really like my security. But if every day was a sure thing not only would life get pretty boring but what would become of me as a person? If I was never blindsided by life or forced to make a tough choice or do something amazing that terrifies me, what would my relationship with God be like? It has been the “adventurous” things in my life that have caused me to run to God and trust Him like no other. It has been the darkest places where God has met me the deepest. He has shown himself faithful and good over and over again. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Do I wish for boring some days? Absolutely. But would I change anything? Definitely not. I don’t need to have control over the entire story. I don’t need to have the perfect outcome. I will make decisions at each crossroad, with guidance from the Lord of course, but sometimes you just have to make a choice. Let life happen, don’t be afraid of the adventure. For in all reality, life is not supposed to be a sure thing. The only sure thing there is, is God and his unconditional love for me. And really that is all I need.
So back to our adventure. Nick promptly turned down the chief’s offer. I am proud of him for putting his family first. I couldn’t ask for a better man. We continue on our current path. What exciting things does our future hold? I can’t wait to find out. But for today I will settle on turkey and pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. I have so much to be thankful for and I know you do too. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and don’t forget to embrace your own adventure.