We rarely end up where we plan in life. Well, most of us don’t anyway. When we’re younger, many of us imagine a straight line, leading perhaps through college or vocational school, then some sort of career, perhaps marriage, and maybe kids. I imagined much of that sort of path; I saw many of my friends on that path, and I deeply envied them. I figured by 40, I’d be married, good career, kids perhaps; all of that. Now, a few years past 40, I’m one for three: I have a career I love, but the marriage and kids thing hasn’t happened. Do I wish it had? Sometimes, yes. However, I realize that life has dealt me a different hand, and maybe the white picket fence house thing isn’t what is meant to be. It’s taken me a long time, but I’m at peace with that.
I also thought, after I came back to Christian Science after a brief departure in my late teens and early 20s, that I would never depart from it again. I headed off to college, and in my early 30s, I took Primary Class Instruction, and happily went off to work at The Mother Church in Boston a few years later to put my college degree in Communications to work for the Cause of Christian Science. I was pretty solid, or so I thought. My path seemed assured. I went in and out of a couple of serious relationships that at times seemed destined to end in wedlock. A happy, American Dream/”good” Christian Scientist life was what I was after. It was what I wanted, lingering doubts about it all be damned. Yes, I envisioned life on a nice straight trajectory, and was quite determined to keep it there; even if it meant being dishonest with myself on many levels and in many ways (not all directly related to Christian Science), and by extension those around me–who all thought I was a “good little Christian Scientist” and was what I appeared to be. That determination, and its concomitant dishonesty, largely unraveled both relationships, and caused me a lot of internal turmoil that sometimes affected my job, and especially how I began to feel about where I was working, and what I was doing, not to mention the emotional hurt I inflicted on the women I was dating. I felt trapped, something had to give. I wondered about just walking away from it all, but the prospect of losing everything and starting from nothing scared me to death.
The “universe”, however, had different plans, and the way my life has unfolded for me now proves to me that there is some sort of guiding force outside of ourselves that opens up options, and presents new paths. I don’t believe entirely in fate, I made the decisions to take certain paths that have led me to where I am now, but I believe those paths were opened up for me for a reason. Sometimes, the jolts that push us in new directions are dramatic, as was the case for me when I left Boston, and ultimately left Christian Science. Other times, it’s more gentle, the simple opening of an unexpected door that leads, as it has for me, into a new and rewarding career path.
My point is that if you had told me just a few years ago that I’d be living where I do now, working in a front-line social service agency helping and advocating for the most marginalized individuals in our society; and that not only would I have left Christian Science, but that I would actively speak out against it, and begin to count as friends some of its most outspoken critics, I would have laughed you out of the room. However, that is exactly the trajectory my life has taken, and I can honestly say I have never been happier in my adult life than I am now. My take-away lesson from all of this is to not fight the universe, and the world around us. Be honest with yourself, and be who you are truly meant to be, not some preconceived notion of what you or someone else think(s) you should be. I can finally say that I have found my true happiness, and that is allowing me to process the traumas I have experienced in the past.
Yes, we might envision or wish for that nice straight line to the checkered flag, but that’s usually not the way life’s path turns out to be. There’s going to be lots of hills and valleys to climb and cross; and a few oceans and lakes to swim through, but if you push forward, I believe you’ll ultimately get to a good place. That’s where I am now. Is this my final destination? Probably not. But, I don’t have any preconceived notions about my future anymore. The only thing I know is that it has yet to be written.