I drove to Milledgeville, GA on Monday evening after being in Atlanta for a weekend of wedding and birthday celebrations. I can always tell when I am approaching my college town because the smoke stacks creep into my view as I cross the bridge over Lake Sinclair. It is a sure sign that my favorite small town is just down the road--a marker for my little heart that is always longing to relive those four years in Milledgeville.
I laughed at myself all the way down the road. I stared at the Walmart and nearly cried. It wasn't that I felt strong feelings toward the super center-- it was that I could see myself making countless trips into that store. I remembered walking down aisle after aisle searching for the right Halloween costume or hunting for those super soft sugar cookies for a last minute surprise party being thrown in the dorm.
I smiled when I saw Chick-fil-a (who doesn't?) because I could quickly think back to the numerous times I sat at a table for breakfast with a high school kid or ran through the drive-thru because I didn't want to eat food from the cafeteria ONE MORE TIME.
I teared up while driving by Zaxby's as I vividly remembered the day I cried at the table while saying goodbye to friends as we headed home for the summer after our freshman year. And like a weird stalker, I parked out front of my old yellow house just to stare at the porch for a few minutes. The conversations had on the rickety, old porch swing were countless. The laughs that went on inside that house were enough to break through the walls.
The town may be little, but it holds a lot of big memories.
On Tuesday afternoon, I walked into the Arts & Sciences building on Georgia College's campus and headed to the third floor. Just walking through the double doors caused a quick shutter to my spirit--one of nerves and excitement. This time I wasn't walking to listen to a lecture or give a speech or take a test. I was walking to visit a class.
I pretended not to be nervous as I walked into room 366 and sat down with a couple of the students. I was early. It felt like I had at least accomplished the very adult task of being on time. As I small-talked with some of the Rhetoric majors, I quickly began to see the question marks pop up in the conversations we were having about their major.
"What do you do for a profession?"
"So, you're saying I CAN get a job with this major?"
"I can tell my dad to stop worrying about my future?"
I saw the fork in the road that I once stood in front of. We all have seen these kind of forks before. It's the one that says, "If you go this way, you can't go the other."
Every decision in college felt big. As I caught up with my cousin over lunch, I listened to her talk about her workload and all of the classes ahead. I so quickly was taken back to that place--the late nights, the tests that made up a huge portion of your grade, the constant need to study something. And I remembered all the forks. Do I change my major? Do I apply for this job? Do I join a sorority? Do I commit to this activity? Which city do I move to after college? Looking back and comparing those decisions to the ones that have to be made as an adult make them seem somewhat minor. I know how big and monumental they felt at the time, however. It all seemed as if my entire future was wrapped up in those decisions.
That's why I wanted to go back to see the fork in the road.
I got to spend the day on the campus, because I have a job that allows me to work from anywhere. I have a job I love. Actually, I have a lot of jobs I love. Some of them I get paid for. Some of them I don't. I write. I read. I strategize. I mentor. I speak. I assist. I live in a city I love.
I spent a lot time in college wondering if I was picking the right things. If I apply for this job in Atlanta and get it, will I be happy? If I apply for this job in Nashville and get it, will I be happy? But I always knew God was whispering, "I have something for you that you're not going to dream up yourself." And that's always played out to be true. Every plan I've had in mind, He's had something better. Every fork I've come to He's asked me to look at Him instead of the fork.
I went back to see the fork in the road not because I wanted to celebrate choosing one direction over another. I wanted to be reminded of the path. It's rocky at times, but the flowers often peek through to offer a little beauty along the way. Around each corner, the trees clear out just enough to be able to see the view ahead. And God, MY God, stands ahead of me; asking me to look at Him and not the fork.