Last year during the Christmas season, there was a song that always made me cry, particularly because I was feeling crushingly lonely and it talked about God being with us. Emmanuel. We sing that specific name of Jesus all the time during Christmas, and I would listen to this song loudly, on repeat, singing, “Oh Emmanuel, God with us”, hoping that at some point, I’d remember what that was like. I’d feel God with me again.
Part of that forgetting was probably a little bit because I spent a lot of time angry at God last year. I wanted to be in a different place than I was. I wanted different endings than the ones I kept getting. I remember thinking, very clearly, “I know this is where I am supposed to be, but I do not want to be here anymore.” Like a spoiled child, I stayed in the camp of, “I don’t want to be here anymore, so don’t ask me to move for you.” And thus began a fun (but not actually fun) game of tug of war for control, featuring me, digging my feet deep into the dirt, and God, waiting patiently for me to drop the rope and stop playing a game I was losing.
Spoiler alert: God won. At some point, it was almost as though I could hear Him saying, “Aren’t you tired of this? Aren’t you tired of fighting me?” Truth be told, I was very tired of fighting. So while I sat on a beach in Cuba, we wrestled it out, and I laid down the rope & I prayed without being angry at God for the first time in nine months.
And after all of that, I was filled with a constant restlessness. It’s less anger at God for where I’m at right now, and more of a desire to be somewhere different. It’s less of a tug of war and more of a constant tug on the sweater of Jesus, saying, “Jesus, let’s hurry up, I want to see what’s next,” which is done in the exact same manner that I - as a 22 year old adult - tug at my mom’s coat saying, “Mom, let’s hurry up, I want to go home.
All of this would be fine, except I spend so much time hustling to see what’s next, to attempt to figure out where I’ll be in May that I’m spending approximately zero time enjoying right now.
I know there is a song called “Right Here, Right Now” from the critically acclaimed musical, High School Musical 3 (a classic for young adults around the globe), but last year, I fought God on being here. And this year, I’m moving like a restless child who just wants to leave and go go go, move move move, let’s hustle onto the next one.
These days, I catch myself thinking that nothing is good enough right now, but everything will be better in the future. I’ve spent the last few years focusing on heart breaks and the moments I didn’t quite measure up or when I didn’t have the right answer, and I keep writing off these precious moments where I was present as incomparable to what the future will hold. I’m writing off right here, right now as not good enough.
This Christmas season has been reminding me that thought process is opposite of true.
Part of this need for control and a “Let’s go, Jesus my future is waiting" attitude is an ever present lack of patience and grace. My whole life feels like regular exercises in practicing patience and grace, and I exercise these virtues as much as I regularly exercise: not a whole lot, and not very well. I feel clumsy around patience and grace: they require a delicateness that is not often associated with Hannah Van Dyk. (I don’t think I’ve ever been called delicate.) I don’t want to wait for stuff to get good: I want it now and I want it to be right the first time around. I’m learning to wait for the things I thought I’d have by now and clumsily learning how to take next steps when I fall down. And I am carefully trying to be patient and gracious with being here.
Where is this ‘here’ I keep talking about it?
It’s this season of life where there are breakfast dates (because breakfast is my love language, probably) and bookstore wanderings. There are staff meetings and classes and quiet moments where Netflix seems to be most appropriate. It’s on road trips to places you didn’t think you’d get to see. It’s in sunny evenings where the sun sets while you’re sitting around a bonfire in Flamborough. Here is less about hustle and more about the status of my heart. It’s when your mom can’t stop giggling & she needs to take a puffer to keep her breathing. Here is in the middle of drudging my feet to write essays and in the flicking of photos on an iPad as we giggle through photos of our Grade 9 & 10 selves. It’s in a family that feels (relatively) stable. Here is quiet moments to journal and weeks spent at home on a farm instead of a busy city.
It’s looking back on all the stuff that has happened in my life and thinking, “I was where I was supposed to be, when I needed to be there.” Even when I thought the ending needed to be different. Even when I thought I should have taken another path. Even when I course corrected. Even when I lived my life under the feeble idea that I am in control (lolz). I was where I was supposed to be.
For a long time, I was mad about where I was, and then I wanted to be out of where I was. I wanted to leave this phase of my life faster. I’m learning that living in the present has its own benefits and blessings. And for the first time in a long time, I can say: Here is good. I think it’s been good all along, but I’m seeing it now.
Here - in the middle of my crazy life, not trying to run away from the parts that make me cringe - is a very good place to be.