“You said ‘sex’ 187 times,” says the boy in the second row with three half-completed rubrics cubes on his desk.
“You were counting?” I ask him incredulously.
“Yeah,” he says. “You told us that over these last few days you would probably say ‘sex’ about 80 times, so I counted. You actually said it 187 times.”
I’m grateful to this nerdy high school freshman for summing up how I currently spend my days.
I talk about sex for a living. I read about it, speak to kids about it, and find ways to engage people about it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (basically, I do everything but have it).
My desire to talk to young people about relationships and sex started somewhere around my first year of college, when I realized that conversations about sex, particularly in the Christian culture, weren’t always super productive. I wanted to be able to talk about sex in a real, life-giving way, one free from shaming or glossing over of legitimate questions. Something almost intrinsic had settled deep within me, and I knew if I never made an effort to share this kind of message I would be ignoring something central to who I was.
Unlike dreams of being a lawyer or a doctor, there aren’t exactly obvious directions to go or jobs to seek that would offer this kind of work. So while over the next few years it continued to be something I thought about often, I had no plans to pursue an actual job that involved engaging teens and young adults about sex and relationships.
Almost a year after graduation, I returned to my college town looking for work that would utilize the social media and marketing skills I had gained during my recently completed internship. The fact that I ended up at an organization whose sole mission is to converse with young people about sex and relationships was, to put it simply, an act of God. And I soon realized that at a mere 23 years old I was living my dream.
It’s a funny thing, living your dream. I’ve spent most of my life (and still spend most of my life) looking at dreams that are ahead. They are always in the distance, a vague thing calling you forward and giving you hope. You imagine the moment you reach your dreams. You imagine you’ll experience this immense sense of purpose and success and for an instant rest of your problems will fade away in the glorious light of the overwhelming knowledge that you have done it.
The truth I have discovered is that living your dream is still a daily process, and a sometimes gritty, frustrating one at that. Living my dream has not meant I am happy all of the time in my work; there are days when I am tired, unproductive and frustrated.
For me, there has been no distinct, shining time when I basked in the light of this incredible knowledge. Instead, it has been small moments of quiet awe and gratitude. These moments are overwhelming and precious, but they still do not drown out the very realness of imperfect life.
And I think this is okay.
Understanding the reality of living my dream has been a distinct reminder that nothing on earth, no matter how meaningful or good it is, can fulfill and sustain me like God can. Whether it’s an amazing job, relationship or opportunity, nothing can replace what only my relationship with God can offer. And knowing this takes the pressure off expecting these things to do so.
The opportunity to live out our dreams is amazing. And when we live into them knowing they cannot and will not be the source of our happiness or fulfillment every single day, we make room for God to do this instead.
Now who wants to talk about sex?
Categories: Julia's Excellent Adventures