Being a graduating third year, the question ‘so, what are you going to do next?’ has been coming up a lot. And honestly, I have no idea. At the moment, getting through the work of this term seems like enough of a next in itself. And that feels kind of rubbish. Because how can I not know what I want to do? Do I not know who I am? It seems like, not really, because surely then I’d know what I wanted to do, but I don’t, and so it’s a bit of a vicious circle.
This feeling of not really knowing how to do this next term, let alone next year, seemed to culminate, the day before I wrote this, in a morning of lectures and seminars where it was like I wasn’t really there. Kind of like I was floating, but also submerged under water at the same time. Not knowing what was going to happen in the future was making it hard to engage with what was going on now – everything had just started to seem like it was ungraspable. Although I’d been reaching out to God in rather jumbled and somewhat sporadic prayer, it felt like faith was slipping through my fingers too.
Coming back from rowing the next morning, I was starting to think about how I was going to do today, and this worship song popped into my head.* It calls God “the great unchangeable I am”. I AM. Not an adjective like good, or forgiving, or mighty (although I believe God is all of those things), but just I AM. The active verb, but also this fixed, solid presence that just IS.
I think that’s one part of what faith means to me – I might not feel like I know what’s going on at the moment, and that I’m not ready for the change that graduating will bring, and honestly, how trusting I am of God’s constancy has its ups and downs, but these feelings don’t change the fact of Jesus. It’s tempting to wish for a nice little map (and I often have done), dictating just how your life should go, but Jesus offers something better. By God coming to Earth, and taking on all the brokenness of the world through his death on the cross, we get a relationship with this ‘I AM’. Not a distant God, pointing, and judging, when we misread the map and get lost, but one who loves us, and welcomes us, and calls us his children.
In terms of getting a straightforward answer, this story doesn’t have a conventional happy ending. I’m not here saying, ‘I've got this now, I know what I’m going to do next, and everything is sorted.’ Thinking about next year is still far from my favourite thing to do. But, at the same time, I do have the reminder that being a Christian gives you an identity that goes deeper than what you do after university, which, realistically, will probably change, unlike the steadiness of a God whose name is ‘I AM’.
*(It’s called ‘Before the Throne of God Above’ and there’s a really great version of it on Spotify by Elikah)