Remember: You Will Die-- Guest Post by Jenny Stockton
Jenny is a wonderful human being who is genuinely interested and curious in so many aspects of life. We bonded after writing pieces for the same issue of Conspire! magazine (one of my favorite publications out there, btw) and I love how this story underlies the freedom that we gain when we finally give up trying to be "normal". Because there is no normal, is there? There is only radical love, which asks us to takes risks and reap great benefits. Be sure and check out Jenny's site (she is always introducing me to new artists/books/writers) and say hello on Twitter.
Remember: you will die.
For most of my life, I pictured my future as an adult in a static manner: complete with spouse, house, kids, meaningful work, Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe, and the obvious contentment that comes with acquiring it all. I spent a number of years and a lot of dollars I didn’t have chasing after those things, convinced that if I could just get them and keep them under my control, I would be happy and things would stay that way forever.
At a certain point during my college career, however, the Jesus of the Bible began toteach me that seeking the kingdom of God is actually the most important thing and, try as I might, I couldn’t deny it. I decided to become a teacher out of a desire to serve the poor and help young people learn to seek truth for themselves. It felt like the best way for me to help build God’s kingdom. It felt like a noble, selﬂess decision and it led me to some of the most valuable and worthwhile work I’ve ever done. I’d be lying, though, if I said I never imagined myself as Michele Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, saving kids by wearing a leather jacket and pointing out the similarities between canonical poetry and popular music. I thought I’d ﬁnd a place to become that lady, then stay for 30 years while I worked on building the rest of my static, perfect life.
Guess what? It didn’t really work out that way.
Last April, as I wrestled with the feeling that I was wasting my days as a classroom teacher (because so much had changed since I started and I often found myself requiring kids to do things I thought were a waste of their time), I read a post on Donald Miller’s site about the process of maturing from consumer to creator, and it struck to the core of everything going on in my heart and mind. Justin Zoradi’s words encouraged me to see myself in the middle of this transition from consumer to creator, and though it was a bit scary, I knew deep down it’s what I wanted. I wanted to be a writer.
I’d spent seven years working full-time in a ﬁeld that provided me with a decent salary, good beneﬁts, and the promise of retirement security. The idea of simply walking away from all of those things seemed crazy. Eventually though, I came to the conclusion that if I continued doing what I was doing, it would be solely because I was afraid of change. And let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Luckily for me, I married a man who has believed he’s meant to be creative his whole life. He doesn’t compromise his principles about life and work and doing things that are meaningful with his time. He’s earned his living for the last seven years by playing the drums, and he is not at all concerned about acquiring an extensive wardrobe. When he took me out on our ﬁrst date, he wore a watch with hands that read “Remember: you will die”. He’s constantly encouraging me to ﬁght my fears and to press in to the inevitable change that comes with being alive.
I quit my job last year to spend more time writing and to work with my husband and his band. I let go of my need to have a regular job so that I could buy new clothes all the time. I discovered, quickly and easily, that we actually need very little. Over the last year, I’ve bought less new clothes, but I’ve spent most of my days doing just what I want. I’ve been able to rest and write and pray and travel with my husband and help kids in my community get new books. I’ve had time and space to dream about the future. And miracle of miracles, we’ve still had enough money for for everything we need, plus a mani/pedi for me every month.
I’m learning to believe and to trust that my desire to be a writer is not simply a selﬁsh, nonsensical one. That maybe it’s one of the things I’m supposed to do before I die. That maybe things are always changing and the best I can hope to do is learn to ﬁnd peace in the face of fear.
There is a sense of adventure in my daily existence now that I never believed could happen to me, much less would. And there is SUCH freedom in the ability to spend so much of my time as I choose. There is SUCH freedom in the knowledge that my husband and I could go, tomorrow, wherever we feel called. There is SUCH freedom in the deep peace that comes with recognizing that it’s God’s kingdom already. That He has rescued it and that we get to help in the work of redeeming it. That nothing in life is static forever, and that one day I will die.
Jenny Stockton's development as a writer started at a young age, when she self-published her first work of fiction as a first grader. It was entitled The Bear Who Got Married, illustrated by the author, and dedicated to her sister Amy. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband Dann.
For all posts in the Downward Mobility series please click here.