A month can change your life.
I woke up thirty-three at the end of May. Ironically, focusing on fun things to do to celebrate a birthday can distract from the actual aging. The number didn’t really sink until a few weeks later. One digit, a two changing to a three, eventually stopped me in my tracks.
Chris and I have talked of many things we could do with our life. Kids. Houses. Music. Moving. Jobs. They have all swirled together in ambiguity and confusion, and I have crept away from the questions they posed. I hid in the comfort of my routines and busyness that kept me from thinking about them. We both did.
I usually fall asleep within moments of lying down at night (for which Chris may never quite forgive me). But one night in June, I lay awake, my mind racing. I started to do math. I started to play out different circumstances at different ages. And the feeling that I was running out of time kept my eyes staring at the ceiling in the darkness, my chest burning.
The next day we walked to get dessert – farther away than usual, on purpose. And we finally greeted all the elephants in the room. What did we want? What did we hope for? How could things work? Why do we play music? Why are we on this earth?
My practical mind struggled to find a ‘why’ that would justify taking huge risks. Chris looked at me, amazed, and recounted back to me all the things that had happened on our tour the previous month that took my breath away. Moments when I had literally said out loud to him, “This is why we do this.” Moments that had gotten swallowed and forgotten by my anxiousness at looking forward. We ate our gelati, brainstormed, dreamed, and prayed.
Then we had a conversation with someone else that seemed like a potential answer to some of our questions. An answer, though, that would have some cost. That would take us away from home for a full month to create an album of all the songs we’d been working on. Which our current lifestyle - specifically my job - wouldn’t allow without significant changes. Again, we prayed. For the first time, I really and honestly offered my current employment on the table. And I said,
“I’m terrified. But I’m willing.”
The next days were full of surreal moments. Conversations with people who had no idea what was going on, but spoke into the choice. Truth offered in classes that had nothing to do with the situation, yet suddenly had everything to do with it. A sermon that left me weeping in my chair as a man who did not know me taught on scripture with such specific commands that I could not ignore it. A friend who used his time to help us take a sober look at our finances and see how, in fact, risks and changes WERE possible.
And the peace that passes understanding washed in. My overactive, analytical mind was stilled. I started saying things out loud as if the choice had been made. I told people around us what we were thinking of doing. I marveled at the change in me.
Days later, it was a now-or-never time to make the jump. I sat in our apartment, lonely and scared. And in more surreal non-coincidences, our neighbor appeared to talk me though it. As I thought of one last reason to say “nevermind,” a song that spoke truth started blaring in my car out of nowhere. I walked into HR, shaking, prepared to quit my job. And the person I’d been trying to find and talk to was right there. I left with a leave of absence – the opportunity to come back in a year or two if I want. The grace to give this everything and to know that if we hate it, we can stop and return to what we were doing before. I made my Isaac offering, and a ram was provided instead.
In one month, so much changed. This next year will be nothing like I expected it to be. I remember looking at a wall calendar back in February, seeing the big numbers 2017 staring back at me, thinking “This seems like it will be an important year,” yet unsure why. Amazing what praying specific prayers will do instead of continuing to walk around in a fog.
If I don’t try it now, we might never. So I’m jumping in. Saying goodbye for now to an eleven-year career. Maybe see you later. Maybe not. We’ll all find out together.
Like I said. A month can change your life.
Photo by Elvis Ma on Unsplash