Kalle Flodin is a man living in a small cabin in Sweden with a growing YouTube presence. As someone living in a semi-permanent construction site of a town I sometimes like to escape to Kalle’s world—from my basement I mean, I am not flying back and forth to Sweden:)

This is Kalle, cabin in background

In a recent video he tries to address a challenge his therapist gave him: write down what you want life to look like in 5 years. To begin with he looks back 5 years, to the era in his life when he still lived in a big city and worked a normal 9-5. 

Maybe it is my mood or where my life has taken me, or how improbable his story seems to me, but I thought he would say something along the lines of “this is a dumb practice, 5 years ago I never would have imaged living in a small cabin making money on YouTube…” but that is not what he said. 

He spoke of how he wanted a career with more meaning and purpose and passion even if it meant less money or prestige, how he desired a life-partner to share in the ups and downs, pets to care for and play with, more connection to nature, and greater physical fitness (ha! Wouldn’t we all), oh, and he would have liked to have some land. 

In the process he is reflective and at one point he pauses, and realizes that he has done all these things. Still, he recognizes the need for therapy because despite it all he is not as happy as one might guess (or e might have expected). He says, the the truth is he often struggles to be as grateful as he should be, then he challenges his audience to leave a note in the comments of three very concrete things they are thankful for and that he hopes these will be read by many and trigger things we can all be thankful for (you can probably see why I like him so much). 

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

I might argue—with Tim Keller and other like-minded Christians—that gratitude is good but the root problem here is that he is asking his life circumstances to fulfill him and that no matter how well one does in life this can never really be achieved, Kalle is barking up the wrong tree. Designing ones life, even if successfully (insofar as reaching one’s own goals) is good but that is often the enemy of great isn’t it? Great is to root ones identity in Jesus, to have Kingdom goals, to become more Christ-like over time, to become more confident and comfortable in Mystery and Presence. I actually suspect Kalle is doing that without even knowing, the Holy Spirit is alive and well and at work in the world after all.

I want to return to where I thought he was going with his talk: The path is not always that obvious and clear. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t and we need to (or I do at least and I trust I am not alone) become comfortable not having such a clear path and still putting one foot in front of the other.

I was thinking about this on a recent hike with my kids in the woods. It is well into the fall here so the tree coverage is minimal as the leaves have blanketed the ground rather than blocked out the sky. For hikers this creates a double-navigating difficulty. Normally you can stay on the path because the tree canopy makes it obvious where the path is because it has been cleared, not so when the leaves are all down, there is no “tunnel” to follow. Secondly, the path tends to be well trodden and maintained so the ground looks different, we can follow a path because so many have gone before us and the dirt track is obvious to anyone remotely trying to follow it. These days the carpet of eaves make this impossible, the path looks exactly like every other part of the ground, covered in leaves! 

Despite the challenges we could stay on the path. It’s not like the leaves falling means there is no path, just that we need a bit more attention and trust to follow it. 

Whether you can look back over your last 5 years and make a straight and healthy path to today and have much to be grateful for, or whether you would say something VERY different about the last five years, it doesn’t mean that there is no path forward today. I won’t be so corny as to mention that the bible could be your guide but I will say that despite what might look like a pretty foggy path forward God promises that one day we will be in pastures by still waters. 

To go a little deeper, I have been noticing that the more time I spend in scripture and prayer and meditation the less obvious or less closed in the path seems. Where once I was more binary in thought (meaning black and white) I am becoming more broad, like there is room to breathe and discover in faith and we do  God a disservice when a- as communities of faith we define matters too rigidly/narrowly and b- when as individuals we simply accept the contours decided by others without taking the time to seek out the path for ourselves. 

However you are feeling about your past five years and (should the lord tarry as they used to say) the five years ahead of you can you feel the expansive space before you and lean into it? 

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