“Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
I've always been inquisitive and fortunately I had parents that indulged that part of me. Mum was for academics and dad was for people and politics and both answered my questions about spiritual stuff. Answers were sometimes incomplete, just what my kiddy brain could handle and sometimes when adults really had no clue, they grasped at straws, built something and sent me on my merry way. At least they were rid of me for now :)
I wish I heard more 'I don't know's as I became older, say 16-19, with full explanations of how one cannot always have everything figured out. Our culture is not one that encourages it. I wish I knew more about uncertainties and the beauty of searching. Maybe it was the lack of easy access to the internet. There sure was no Google till I left Nigeria and got here and really, a lot of parents had no inspiration and experience beyond their immediate environment. They gave us their best but I think this bit encouraged dogmatism. A lot!
I got good grades, I was going to be a medical doctor (duh!), blah blah blah. Even when I moved to the UK, I just carried on with life as it was designed to happen. My first real lesson in self awareness came when I was trying to fill my UCAS form. The questions I needed to answer to make my personal statement unique jolted me. Guidelines like 'Why Medicine? (Do not simply write 'to help people' as many candidates will write this)' forced me to dig deep. I came up empty.
I liked the idea of helping people but blood? Injections? Cramming body parts? Vomit? Dead bodies? Even seemingly sweet stuff like delivering a newborn? Ermm NOPE! Add all that to the fact that the boredom I experienced in my Biology A-Level classes was unrivalled. Chemistry on the other hand was simply amazing. I was doing so well and actually enjoyed the classes. But it was never the plan!
That was my first major curve in life and since then life has been a series of endless questions. I chose to study Chemistry even though I was not sure what I would do with it and for a long while at my university, it felt right. The only problems were my questions. No more medicine, what now? WHAT? WHY? I needed to figure these out before I could go to HOW? I kept coming up empty.
Then life became hard. A family member got really ill, finances were tight and in the midst of the turmoil, I still had no solid idea of what path my life was meant to take. WHAT became WHAT IS THE POINT? WHY became WHY BOTHER? I became so disillusioned with life and nearly flunked uni. It was my first brush with not knowing and I did not handle it very well.
Then slowly, I started figuring out that most people really did not know too. I wish I had known that much earlier. I wish I could have been prepared in a way but the learning experience, though tough is something I have now come to be grateful for. I found some kind of freedom. Having everything fall apart gave me a chance to learn to start for me. Now I know that not knowing does not have to be crippling.
I am not alone. We are unique as individuals and our circumstances might vary but no one is at one time experiencing hardship alone. Feeling so alone for a very very long time made me blind to the beauty around me. I was so obsessed with my questions and I lost my joy. It was like I could not do anything else, till I got clear cut answers. I let the enemy in and negative thinking took root.
I was fighting a losing battle. You cannot know it all. It is impossible to always have life correctly figured out and when plans don't work out, that should be ok. I needed to come to a place of trust. I called myself christian but really had no trust that he who made me always has me in his sight. My role is to do what I know how to do, move a step at a time and see him work.
It was ok to have questions. Ok to search. It was wrong to attach my sense of self to to plans and certainties. Our peace and joy should not be tied to our circumstances. I heard that said a lot but I get it now and I hope it makes your search easier. I have not got it all figured out still, but I am not in the dumps. What is the gain in feeling lost and then being depressed on top? It is not like that will quicken the answers. Do not stop living while you're searching.