Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.)
You’re nearly a quarter of a century, and that scares you.
Growing up, you heard more than once that you had the world at your fingertips, but now you have dirty coffee cups at your fingertips and you dip your hands in soapy water and sanitizer that dries your skin and leaves it to crack in the winter air.
You consider moving to Texas, where cacti don’t lose their leaves in the same way as the silver maples outside your window, but you’re afraid that an eternal summer won’t change what you’re hoping will change, so you stay where you are.
Everyone always talks so negatively about fear, but you wouldn’t be who you are or where you are without it. Whether that person with fear is better than the person without fear, you’re not sure. Maybe some decisions you make aren’t necessarily better or worse.
Maybe some decisions are simply different. Different in the way that potato salad at 7 a.m. is different from coffee at 5 a.m. where you tell a customer with snow globe hair that you’ll make her drink again because the frozen mocha caramel in the blender isn’t enough to overflow her cup (let alone fill it), and she tells you, “No. Life is too short to worry about stuff like that. And don’t you worry about stuff like that either. This is good the way it is.”
She doesn’t know when you thank her that you’re thanking her for this moment: the moment when you begin to suspect that “good” doesn’t mean what you thought it meant when you were ten years old and sitting in Sunday School and hearing, for the millionth time, that God once looked at creation and said, “It was good.”
You think that somewhere, somehow, you mistook goodness for perfection, and now you have conversations with teenagers about perfection because it wasn’t long ago when you were a teenager and believed that perfect existed.
And you’re so afraid for them. You want to tell them plans don’t matter nearly as much as everyone tells you, but last week you saw a commercial where a man in a suit defined “success” as earning more money than you spend, and you’re still wondering if it’s possible to be a negative person.
Because, quite honestly, you’re always wondering what it means to live a good life. Someone sat at a table the other day, watched you wipe down a counter, and asked you if you want to serve coffee for the rest of your life.
How much does it matter? It’s where you are now.
Good, in your lexicon, isn’t perfect. It isn’t comfortable. It isn’t confident. It’s God looking at creation, where the first doubt must have existed—the doubt that allowed the serpent his chance to wreak his havoc—and still saying: “It is good.”
Good like the nights you sell one cup of coffee in two hours because nobody likes the taste of Monday morning on a Saturday night, and your co-worker says: “Everyone is always trying to fix things. Sometimes you just have to let sadness be sadness.”
And fear to be fear.
And alone to be alone.
Brokenness to be brokenness.
On Sunday mornings, the pastor calls families up for communion, and you dip Wonder Bread into Juicy Juice while you stand near your friend because you’re twenty-something and there’s really no place for you, and somehow your nuclear family simultaneously disintegrated and grew into an extended family, and you’re not a dependent anymore, and you check “single” on your W2.
You lie to the government. You’re dependent on so many people: your friends, your family, your co-workers and customers with snowy hair, teenagers in a church basement talking about your Lord, the carpenter, who wept in the garden, questioned everything, and said: “Broken for you.”
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.