Big decisions require big listening.
I created a SoulCollage® card for my daughter when she was 21 and going through what some Millennial research experts dubbed a “quarter-life crisis.” At that point in her life she was going through the oh-my-gosh-where-did-the last three-years-of-college-go-?-I-still-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up-and-there’s-only-one-year-left-of-college-until-the-real-world-hits-me-upside-the- head and-my-parents-declare-my-financial-emancipation!
Fast forward four years, and she reaches another crossroads. Of course, wise mothers know that these crossroads are the markers of a life well-lived. Life is full of forks in the road and sometimes a few detours. There is never a straight road with easy answers about which direction to go. We come to accept that normal is the in-between spaces of what was and what is to come, while we practice trust, patience, and big listening, an opportunity for Life Lectio.
It was during this time of in-between, the summer of her quarter-life crisis, that I created a SoulCollage® card for Jessica’s 21st birthday. It represented my advice/prayer for her. I hoped it would be an image for her to practice Visio Divina, deep and big listening to her intuition. I share again the image and words of Just Listen:
I remember the carefree little-girl-Jessica who ran and played and laughed and didn’t worry about a darn thing. Just a sketch of yourself then. Happy, yes, but not fully who you are to become. Within you is that little girl you have always been and always will be— the spirit of Jessica, Jessica Becoming. Stay connected to those little voices and playful characters, the pondering and contemplating spirits, the fairy spirits within you.
Listen carefully. Put your ear to the ground. Put your ear to the seashell. Do you hear the ocean? Just listen. Listen to the sound of your environment, amplified. Listen to the ground of Being from which you come. Listen to the people and experiences that God places in your life. This is the Universe speaking to you. Listen and learn.
Listen to that still, small voice inside. It is God speaking to you. You are a woman now, not just a little girl. As you strive for adult things—relationships, jobs, experiences— don’t forget who you are. You are that little girl with no worries. Work hard, set goals, make plans, challenge yourself. Keep becoming more of you. Be enthusiastic, not hasty. Be active and receptive. Be silent, humble, meek and patient. You don’t need to be all-knowing…the road you take will always lead back to you. There is no hurry. Just be you.
Pray, listen and surrender. There is not just one right choice for you. Life is full of decisions and most of them are not mistakes; you are simply choosing a path at the fork in the road. One decision will lead to the next fork. You will have ample opportunity to readjust your direction. Trust the journey.
And even if you make a “mistake,” you will find your way back to the path. You will continue to learn, grow and self-correct when things aren’t feeling quite right. Remember nothing is set in stone. Just follow your path, trusting it will lead you right where you need to be. Cultivate your intuition; trust yourself; trust God. Surrender to Surprise. Just Listen.
Written especially for Jessica, the prayerful advice to Just Listen can be for all of us.
God has many backup plans for us; we don’t need to have a perfect vision of what is to come because we are all in process, we are all becoming. So much of our disappointment in ourselves is wrapped up in our own expectations. By surrendering to surprise, by surrendering an idealized version of our life, we create an opening for God to work in mysterious and more perfect ways than we could have envisioned.
Jessica Becoming: she is all the versions Jessica has been from birth on. Baby, toddler, little girl, teenager, student, college graduate, working woman, friend, girlfriend, sister to cats and dogs, daughter, granddaughter, grad student—and very soon back into the working world with her Masters in Public Administration.
Jessica’s becoming has been a joy to behold. My prayer from four years ago is renewed—for peace, not to be worried or fearful; to find a vocation she is passionate about and that gives her purpose, meaning and contributes positively to the world.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” -Julian of Norwich
The original SoulFully You post, Just Listen: Advice for a Quarter-Life Crisis, March 2016.
Some musical inspiration and lyrics for Life Lectio from Carrie Newcomer:
I’m Learning to Sit With Not Knowing
I am learning to sit with not knowing.
Even when my restless mind begins jumping
From a worried
To a frightened
To a hard edged and impatient,
Why aren’t you already there?
I’m learning to sit and listen
To pat myself on the knee,
Lay my hand on my heart,
Take another deep breath,
Laugh at myself,
Befriend my mistakes,
Especially the ones,
That show me how,
I most need to change.
I’m learning to sit with whatever comes
Even though I’m a hopeless planner,
Because so much of this life
Can’t be measured or predicted
Or evenly portioned.
Because wonder and suffering visit
When we least expect
And rarely In equal measure.
I’m learning to sit with what
I might never know
Might never learn
Might never heal
With what might waltz in and surprise me
Might nudge me into the risky business of growing
Might crash into my days
With unspeakable sorrow
Or uncontainable delight.
I’m learning to sit
With not knowing.