The Problem with Life’s Carbs

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The end of the school year has always been an interesting time for me.

It means saying goodbye to friends who are going to their respective homes for the summer. It means a break from the structure that school provides. At the end of the school year there’s no more homework, no more papers, and suddenly more time than I know what to do with.

I have a hard time with not being busy.

When I’m busy it is easy to live. When I have a set schedule, when I have to show up to classes at a certain time, when other school obligations keep me hopping from one thing to the next, it is easy to drift on by. Structure keeps me from having to stop and just sit and be “un-busy.” Structure keeps me safe.

I’ve found, however, that it is in the times I step out of this structure I’ve built for myself that I grow and learn the most. Classes are great, school obligations are great, even work is great. However, none of them will ever truly fulfill me on a deeper level. They fill up my time, they take up space in my head, and they keep me moving but in the end they are just empty carbs. When they’re all burned off they leave me just as hungry as I began.

So as I’m looking at the summer that lies ahead of me I can’t help but wonder how I will handle being outside of the structure. When I stop eating carbs, what will fill me up? What will take the place of the hole that is left when everything that school and business brings crumbles away for three and a half months?

It is going to be the relationships I step into, the things I do because I’m passionate about them and called to them that will fill me. The good leafy greens and proteins that will help fill me and build me up will be the memories I make engaging with people instead of a textbook. The good stuff will be the times I get to go and just exist for a time. I will be filled by those moments where I get to be a human being instead of a human doing as an old pastor of mine used to say.

Being outside of the structure is going to be hard and won’t always taste good, sure. After all, sometimes the stuff that is good for us isn’t always the most rewarding from the get go. Who wants broccoli when they could have a warm, right-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie? Alright, I know a few people, but I think the majority would agree that the cookie is far more tempting, even if it is far less filling. Yet it is broccoli that is going to give my body the vitamins and minerals it needs and in the same way the harder things in life are going to be the most edifying.

In the end, when in previous years I would dread the oncoming summer, I find myself in a different place. This summer will be challenging, no doubt more-so than all of the ones preceding it, but I have a feeling that it is going to be one where I will come out of it feeling full of new lessons, new friends, and new experiences.

And of course every now and again I’ll snack on a cookie, bask in the structure of work and educational pursuits, and that will be okay too.

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