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Stuck Between Scrambling and Settling

While in college, I remember desiring to write a blog titled, “I Just Want Curtains!” I had been feeling uprooted, unorganized and slightly unstable for

years, and I just wanted a home — my home — with curtains! In my mind, curtains

symbolized a home where I would stay for more than a semester, a home where I

could nail things into the walls — walls that were painted the color of my

choice. Curtains were a symbol of adulthood and my future after college.

I have arrived. I’m out of college, but sadly, my husband and I still have

not put up curtains in our apartment. Yet several other things symbolize the

“grown-up” life I longed for — matching dinner plates, a working TV and my very

own crockpot. Transitioning into this season happened quickly. I wouldn’t say I

woke up one morning shocked at my new routine, but in the last couple weeks

there has been a quiet tugging at my heart: “What’s next?”

In the past 17 months I graduated

from college, got my first job, got engaged, moved to Colorado, got a new job,

lost two dear friends to heaven, got married, and here I am now. The pace,

emotions and transitions were intense, but nothing new. My college years seemed

to flow that way, making the last year and a half seem familiar.

So now, what’s next? I’m not talking about contentment. I have written a lot

over the past couple years about being content where God has you. I am content

and very pleased in my current life stage. But I also think major life change

and transition is something I have become so accustomed to in the past six

years, making true stability seem border line boring.

In college, you’re always looking forward to the next thing, whether that is

the next semester, the next job or even the next big test. When you finally

graduate and settle in one place for longer than a nine-month period, it is

easy to become restless.

There is something I am (slowly and somewhat painfully) learning about

stability. Although risk and excitement may decrease with stability, two other

things seem to blossom: commitment and investment.

As I have written before, I had a hard time getting involved in college,

whether it was church or social activities. I didn’t want to commit because I

always saw the end in sight. “You know, I would love to volunteer, but it will

be summer break soon and …” or “That Bible study seems great, but once I get

to know everyone, I will be moving, so …” Investment and commitment were heavy

words. But here, now, in a place where summer vacations don’t exist and

semesters are only mental time periods that come and go without finals, I can

no longer use the excuse that I will be leaving soon.

Being in a stable life stage opens many doors, and rich community lies

behind these doors. Although I may not be in the process of planning my next

big move or job change, I can finally start unpacking years of built-up

ambition. I can take time to join that Bible study and volunteer for that

organization. I can start investing in new friendships and invest time and

energy into a church family.

Have you been feeling stuck between life stages, trapped between scrambling

and settling? I challenge you to intentionally invest in your current life before

you start planning your next great adventure (or escape).

Tips for settling:

  • If you like to write, jot down what your goals

    were for after college. Think about what you are doing now to achieve those

    goals, and make a list of practical ways to continue reaching them. Give

    yourself deadlines and rewards, and have a friend hold you accountable.

  • Start investing in the people around you. Making

    friends after college can be a challenge as well. Be intentional about getting

    to know people on a deeper level by taking them out for coffee or lunch. Invest

    in positive people and join a small group through church. Try to dig deeper

    with people and build relationships that are more than surface level.

    Recommended reading: Community: Building Relationships Within

    God’s Family

  • Plan fun activities with friends to spruce up

    your new schedule. Have a routine game night or monthly potluck. Events that

    happen regularly give you a sense of community and family where people depend

    on you.

  • Commit to volunteer at church or a local

    organization. Being held accountable to others by taking on responsibilities

    will help you feel like you belong. This is also a great way to get rooted in

    the community, making it harder to continually pack up and leave.

  • Be in constant prayer that God uses you right

    where you are.

All too often our emotions lead us down new paths when we are missing great

opportunities right in front of us. Building a strong community can help

create a home that is more than curtains and crockpots. Allow yourself to

thrive where you are and blossom as the adult God has created you to be. 

But remember, God is an unpredictable God … so don’t get too comfortable.

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