Monday, February 13, 2012

What the Hell is a Life Map?

The first night of my Group Therapy class, my professor announced that our "life maps" would be due February 16. I immediately thought, what the hell is a life map?? She hasn't given us much instruction over the past few weeks, but our life maps are still due on Thursday. I got busy yesterday without anything else on the agenda. I'm pretty darn proud of my creation, despite the fact that I've never considered myself a crafty person:
My love for Post-It notes and bright colors came into play, of course.
Because I didn't know what I was supposed to be including on my life map (except for my birth date, which she requested), I chose dates that are very personally meaningful, such as June 19, 1992 (the date my sister and absolute best friend in the world was born), and October 17, 2009 (the date I met the love of my life). I included milestones, such as getting my family's first true pet, moving in at LU as a lowly freshman, my 21st birthday, the date I graduated from Longwood University and met my goal GPA, the date I moved into my very own apartment, and the date I began graduate school. I realized that I may not know every step of where I'm going, but I sure do know where I've been.
I feel certain that my professor didn't provide us with much instruction and answered our questions vaguely because she didn't want to restrict what we would choose to include. If she told us we needed to have pictures, those dedicated instruction-worshippers like me would have covered a posterboard with photos. If she'd said we needed a carefully constructed paper, my classmates and I would have written pages upon pages of our life stories in APA style, not knowing on what we'd be graded. She did tell us not to bring in a stack of photos to thumb through while talking at the floor (based on a previous student's lazy concept of a life map), and she did implore us not to use those huge tri-fold boards. But that's about all she said. She told us what not to do for this assignment. You can imagine that I'm shakin' in my boots. I'm a rubric-loving, instruction-following, non-deviating type of gal when it comes to assignments.

But that's just the thing -- in life, there isn't a lot of instruction. We have to carve our own path. We have to forge our own way. We have to create our own destiny. [Insert personal cliche slogan here.] But it's true. I have a personal relationship with God and His teachings through the Bible. However, much of the Bible is left to interpretation. While the Bible is specific about some things, such as honoring one's parents and not murdering people, it's vague in some respects. The Bible gives us a lot of what-not-to-dos. That's the best way I was able to equate this assignment to the realities of life. While there may be guidebooks, play-by-plays, and sets of instructions for some facets of our lives, there are an awful lot of unknown factors. We can't write the future of our story, but we can hope, and pray, and jot down the past and the present as reminders.

I have a lot of questions floating around after having completed this life map.
Where will Ian live while he's in med school?
How often will we be able to see one another?
Will I be ready to counsel during my Practicum and Internship?
Am I spending too much valuable time worrying about things beyond my control?
Will Caroline and I graduate in the same month and year?
If we ever open up our hearts to another dog, will he be as perfect as Nick?
Will anyone I know be celebrated as a centenarian?
Will we ever get snow this winter?
Et cetera.
No one has the answers to these questions except The Big Man Upstairs. I typically think of a paper map as listed possibilities for how to get from Point A to Point B with options, dead ends that can't be foreseen, challenging weather, new roads that weren't on the map when it was printed, and endless possibilities. There isn't just one road to get to anyplace. I believe that God has a plan for me; while he's working out all the kinks, I'm doing the best I can with what instruction I have.
Maybe that's why it's called a life map.

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