A few years ago, a huge construction project started on one of the major freeways that wrap around the city of Minneapolis. It’s a freeway that I take to get to one of the churches I work with. It started around the time I started making that commute and I remember thinking, “This isn’t going to last long.” This being my commute, of course. The construction, I knew, would last forever. In fact, an article I read said it would last three to four years. And now, somehow, three to four years later, it’s done.
Kind of. There’s still one patch of weirdness when you’re headed north. But nothing like it was during the years of construction.
At the end of 2021, I read another article saying the construction would be done the following weekend.
I couldn’t believe it. Had it really been as long as the original article stated? I did the math in my head and then counted the years on my fingers because obviously, my math was wrong. (I do have an issue with numbers.) Other people in Minnesota who also had to drive through that construction will probably hate me for saying this, but it was almost bittersweet. Why? Because I drove through that construction from the beginning to the end of the project.
When I told someone that, they said, “That sucks.” And it’s true. It did suck. But I also got to see it every step along the way, so I saw how it all came together to work as it does now.
But the real reason it was bittersweet is that while this freeway was under construction, I was too.
I think back to those early years and that long drive. (At least, at the time it felt long.) I would put in long days at the office so that I could avoid rush hour traffic. That meant coming in late and staying late or coming in early and leaving early. I spent a lot of time alone in that office, saying hi to people as they’d come through the building for their various activities and walking out after everyone had left. I’d either drive there in the early morning hours before the sun had risen or I’d leave long after it had set.
Those were the days that anger roiled inside me. Anger at myself for making a decision I had made in life. Anger at God for leading me in certain directions. Anger at a lot of (most of?) the people in my life for various reasons.
Those were the days I thought that commute might just kill me. One day one of those crazy drivers who acted like we weren’t in a construction zone might just take me out. And in those days, that was okay.
Those were the days I wrestled with my faith and asked a lot of questions that I never thought were answered. Those were the days I looked at a Bible and thought, “I don’t know if I believe in what you say anymore.” And there was one tense drive when I wondered if I’d lose a friend after something prompted her to ask me, “Do you believe in God anymore?” And the only answer that came to me was, “I don’t know.”
Those were the days I listened to a lot of sermons and a lot of books about the faith I had grown up in, but I also listened to podcasts and books about other spiritualities. Those were the days I asked myself, “What if I let this part of me go?”
Those were the days I lived with a lot of fear. It felt like there was a constant ticking and I was just waiting for a bomb to go off.
I don’t know when it happened, but there was a shift. It didn’t feel so dark anymore. In fact, it turns out the days of driving in darkness were actually just for a few months out of the year. Yes, sometimes my morning or evening commute would still lack sunlight depending on what time I was driving. but often the sun was there, hovering on the horizon, just waiting for the right angle to blind me.
Those were still the days of a lot of questions–just not quite as angry. Those were the days of learning more about myself. I mourned the young dreamer I had been–who I loved–and began to accept the old dreamer who needed reminders that it’s okay to continue dreaming.
Those were the days I realized I do still have faith and began to rebuild it.
And while I still lived with fear, that constant ticking was gone.
As the construction of this freeway came to an end, I took a look back at who I was when it started and realized how deep under construction I was.
I still am–as humans, we’re constantly changing and evolving. Life happens. We make decisions. Other people do things that impact us. And all of these things leave their mark.
When I drive along this freeway now I can see that it’s better than it was before. Not perfect, for sure, but an improved version. I’m not perfect; I never will be. I still miss things about who I was before I went under construction, but I can also see how much stronger I am now after having been through it, even though I still have patches of weirdness.
So if you are under construction right now let this be a reminder: this construction period will come to an end.
It’s okay for that ending to be bittersweet. It’s okay to miss parts of who you were before, but also marvel at parts of who you are now.
You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You have learned a lot about who you are and that will help you as you continue to move forward and as you encounter others who are under construction, too.
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