I’ve been having this weird sensation in my heart.
And while I could tell you everything from the pacemaker potential and impulses of the sinoatrial node, to the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart, to the micro-anatomy of cardiomyocytes, I couldn’t quite explain what’s going on in my heart.
I’ve tried a lot of things in an attempt to figure it out. Long walks on the beach with my best friend in the world, running, working out, time in Scripture, church, conversations with mentors and the people who matter most, drinking, dating, being intentionally single, throwing myself into academics, dying my hair blue, removing myself from my faith, throwing myself back into it, and finally, pretending that the weird sensation wasn’t there at all.
And that’s kind of the one I settled on. In my last blog post, I mentioned the trials and tribulations of the Term of Tears, and that had me pretty well occupied for a while. My soul cried out and I told it to shh for several months and put a lot of bandaids over it.
I also mentioned in that post that I’ve been working hard to deal with the inner ramblings of my soul. Trying to heal it, not just put a bandage over it.
And all the while I’ve been having this weird sensation in my heart.
And dare I say it, I think it is a…uh….a….f….fee….a….um….ahem….feel….IT’S A FEELING, OKAY?!
Alright, I said it, I’ve been having a Feeling in my heart for a long time GET OFF MY BACK!
It’s a Feeling I’ve felt for probably close to two years. I had inklings of it before, but being the professional Feelings Mortician that I am, I warded it off rather successfully for quite a while before it weaseled it’s way into my heart, bought a house, took up residence and formed a Homeowners Association for a bunch of it’s little friends.
Anyway, so this Feeling. Two years. I couldn’t figure it out. I broke up with my longterm boyfriend, I cut my hair, I changed my wardrobe (go ahead guys, scoff. But every woman out there knows that these signs of massive life changes) I got into the party scene, I got into trouble, I got out of the party scene, I had the lowest GPA I’ve ever had, I threw myself into my relationship with Christ, I fell out of it, I tried dating, I got my heart broken, I fell back into the party scene, I crawled out. I restored my relationship with Jesus. I’ve tried a lot of things.
But I couldn’t figure it out. And there have been moments where I was closer to figuring it out than others. There have been moments where I thought the Feeling was love, where I thought it was anguish, depression, anxiety, self-hatred, insecurity, loneliness. And there have been moments where I was truly happy in spite of this nagging, curious Feeling, and there have been moments where I was genuinely sad because of this nagging, curious Feeling.
Anyway, getting closer to the point, I was driving home from work the other day and this song came on and at first I was like what even is this depressing nonsense? And I kid you not, my hand was on the dial to change the station and I paused because I heard “Run, run, lost boy they say to me, away from all of reality. Neverland is home to lost boys like me, and lost boys like me are free.”
And for some unknown, psychotic reason, I smiled. I mean this isn’t like a happy- go- lucky song, kids. It’s a little haunting, actually. But I smiled. Alone in my car, wearing my Build-a-Bear uniform, I listened to three lines of a song about a boy, a make-believe place and escaping reality, and I smiled.
You know those moments when you have an itch and it’s just beyond your reach so you have to ask someone else to scratch it for you, and they finally do and it’s like heaven on earth?
Those words scratched the itch in my heart for just a few wonderful, glorious seconds. And in a desperate attempt to keep scratching until it no longer itched, I listened to the song on repeat for like 3 weeks. It didn’t help. But on the the bright side everyone in my family now knows all the words to it…
So I did what I do best and sent obscure, wordy texts to my best friends then promptly went back to ignoring the Feeling.
That is, until Starbucks Day. Beloved, perfect, seemingly insignificant Starbucks Day. What a glorious day it was, folks. In the spirit of being festive, I wore what one should always wear to Starbucks- leggings, a flannel, boots, a fluffy scarf, and hipster glasses. I was nothing, if not well dressed for Starbucks Day.
Anyway, on this renowned Day, I went with my old man to, as he calls it, sbux. And we pulled out our computers and began to plan a trip.
Background: there’s this pilgrimage called The Way of Saint James, or El Camino de Santiago in Spain. You walk 923u50294u50 (that’s a precise number) miles every day and stay in hostels and backpack and it’s really cool. And we’re doing it. My Ma and Pa and me, we’re doing it this summer. It’ll take us about a month to walk it and we’re stoked. But this is not the trip we were planning.
Good ol’ Daddy Mills and I were planning a trip for after the Camino. I wanted to stay and backpack around Europe for a few weeks after the Camino because….well…why the heck not. And Papa decided he’d stay and go with me.
So on Starbucks Day, we planned our trip. We decided what cities we wanted to go to and what we wanted to see and we drank coffee and we researched all there is to know about some of the most beautiful places on earth. And as I sat there I felt the Feeling heave a sigh of relief. The Feeling was excited about this trip. The Feeling was finally getting some attention on this fateful day.
So Daddio and I left Starbucks and went on with our lives for a few days. I tried to ignore the Feeling. I really did. I read some books and watched some movies and worked a lot and worked out a lot and did all that I could to ignore the Feeling. But it was becoming a rather pesky, intrusive little Feeling.
It was all I could think about. I was reading books for my education classes and one of them talked about how everything we do is done in an effort to find satisfaction of some sort. And so I began to think about all the things that I do and why I do them.
Why do I run, why do I lift, why do I fly to Florida to visit friends from middle school, why do I lead SI, why do I work in the biology prep-lab, why do I go to Intervarsity, why do I have a personal relationship with Jesus, why do I sabotage every romantic relationship I can, why am I friends with the people I’m friends with, why am I going on the Camino, why, why, why? Why do I do the things that I do? What am I satisfying by doing them?
And as I pinned down the answers to the “why’s,” the Feeling leapt. It was really happy that I was learning about myself. Something about figuring out why I do what I do made the Feeling not suck as much.
So I do all of this deep thinking about the “why’s” of my life, and after a while I get exhausted. I mean, exploring the reasons why you are who your are is tiresome. So I stop and watch New Girl and pretend the Feeling doesn’t exist anymore.
That is until a few days later. I’m coming home from work after day dreaming with my co-workers about how I can’t wait to be a teacher and how I want to teach at a boarding school in Europe. And the Feeling returns. It leaps at me like it doesn’t speak English and for the first time I just spoke it’s native language.
So I try to brush it off and I get in the car, and what do I hear? “Run, run, lost boy they say to me, away from all of reality. Neverland is home to lost boys like me, and lost boys like me are free.”
And I would’ve been mad at this point because after 3 weeks of the song on repeat, I’m a little sick of it. But then the Neverland- Synergistic-Moment-of-Ephiphanistic-Wonderfulness happens. I’m not sure how many of those words are real words, but work with me here.
It hits me.
I am a Lost Boy.
Maybe a better way to say it is that my soul is a Lost Boy. Because I’m not lost in the sense that I have no direction for my life or that I don’t know who I am.
I think my soul is a Lost Boy, somewhere out there in Neverland, forever hiding from it’s Shadow of responsibilities and growing up. And there are some times when I let my soul shine. And there are times when I am nothing but the Shadow.
And I know that to survive in this world, you have to be a little bit of a Shadow. You have to pay your bills and go to work and adult a little bit. But I hope more than anything, that I always remain a Lost Boy.
I want my soul to forever be tucked away in the trees of Neverland and I hope it always remains playful and resilient and impressionable. And as I take it on adventure after adventure after adventure, I hope it keeps growing, taking in all that it sees. I hope it never stops changing, never stops collecting new passions and never becomes complacent with growing up.
In my opinion, the Feeling that captured me two years ago was nothing short of Jesus whispering to me “You’re trying too hard to grow up.”
We live in a culture that always pressures us not just to grow up faster, but do x, y, and z and you’ll be happier and more successful. Babies have iPads, elementary schoolers have iPhones, kids in middle school are getting pregnant, you’re supposed to know what you want to do for your entire freaking life when you graduate high school, you need to eat this and do that so you can be this size and then you’ll be happier and you’ll be able to attract this kind of guy who has this kind of career so you can have all of the money and all of the cars and all of the things.
And I was buying into that culture. I was buying into the need to grow up and do certain things so I could be a successful adult. And this Feeling that captured me two years ago was really telling me to pause and think about who I am and what I want. Will being this size make me happy? Will being in the perfect relationship make me happy? Will having all the money make me happy?
So I went on a run today, thinking about all of this. There was ice on the sidewalks and it was 20 degrees and it started to snow and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And as I ran, I thought about who I really am and what I really want and I thought about all that I’ve learned about myself in the last two years. And I’ve learned a lot. Perhaps the most important of which is that I have have big dreams to be a world changer, and I have to pursue them.
You can laugh at that lofty statement. You can buy your house in the suburbs and go on vacations to your timeshare in Mexico and you can get your big paying job and your nice car and live in your own little world and laugh at me while I ramble about my soul in Neverland and wanting to change the world.
But that won’t stop me. I want to change the world. I do. I want to explore this vast earth and learn cultures I can’t pronounce the names of and eat food I’m scared of and have conversations with strangers in broken languages and I want to live in a small staff dormitory of a boarding school and stay up too late caring too much about my students and my lesson plans. And I want to never stop raising money and awareness for kids who don’t have clean water and I want to fall in love too fast and too often and I want to never stop seeing the best in people and I want to always wonder what part of me I’m going to find on my next adventure and I never want to stop growing as a person and I want to honor the Lord in everything that I do, every word that I say, every Feeling that I have and I want to keep my childlike soul in Neverland so that it’s never tainted by the grown-up interpretation of success. I want to be free-spirited and I want to change the world.
I want change the world one student at a time. One child who doesn’t have clean water at a time. One friend at a time. One stranger at a time.
There is a huge world out there- a beautiful earth created for us and entrusted to us with mountains and rivers and villages and towns I have yet to see. There is a huge world out there with billions and billions and billions of people I have yet to meet. There is a huge world out there and I only have a lifetime to experience it.
I hope my soul stays young and free and never stops wanting to learn more about the world I live in and the people I share it with.
Adventure is out there, I better get after it.