Ever have time to just sit down and think about where you’re headed? I don’t — at least I hadn’t for the past several years. This Thanksgiving holiday has given me time to do that, and I thought I’d share some of those thoughts, in as vague a way as possible, in order to help me savor this moment of clarity in my mostly-confused life. 🙂

For the first time in many years, I feel that I’ve come to terms with what I really want out of life. It honestly didn’t surprise me that the “big picture” of where I want to be in ten years doesn’t really require a PhD at all, much less one from UIUC. But, something that did catch me off guard was how specific some of my aspirations really are — and how how frighteningly unfocused my pursuit has been thus far.

Of course, it’s a labor of love and gratitude to put my absolute best into the work I do while I’m at Illinois, but whether I stay here for the next three years or just the next semester, I’m no longer defining myself in terms of my career, my intelligence, or even my own character. I’m slowly realizing that while my carefully-crafted, fully self-referential notion of identity has kept me from getting hurt (by others) for a long time, it’s a suffocating way to live. It’s time to man up, and start accepting that I’m really a fundamentally symbiotic being, whose meaning and purpose is defined in relation not just to God and His Word, but is inescapably tied to the other people in my life.

I think this wouldn’t be so hard to embrace if it didn’t come with the terrifying corollary that I may actually be or become a part of what defines some of the people around me — be it for good, or otherwise. I’m pretty scared of the scars that my bad side could leave, but at the same time, I’m exhilarated by the hope that becoming a better person might actually mean something to someone other than myself. All this to say, I really want the upcoming year to be less about me as an individual, and more about how we all fit, together, into God’s plan.

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