BY TILLY DILLEHAY
In this issue’s Finding Your Piece of the Good Life, I’m pulling doubled duty.
My job here is
1: To write about my idea of something called “the good life,” (e.g, what it is and how I found it); and
2: To introduce myself to you all, the readers of Wilson Living Magazine. I have just joined the magazine staff as Editor, and couldn’t be more excited.
So here we are: Hello. It’s fantastic to meet you. I can’t wait to be a part of your community.
That fulfills goal #2.
Goal #1 will take a bit more time. Why? Because the Good Life, as we all think of it, is a slippery business.
Because it tends to elude us. It certainly eluded me for many years. I’ve clambered my way to the top of many a goal or dream that I believed to represent the Good Life, only to find that the Good Life wasn’t there at all.
But this is a little cryptic. I’ll just try and start from the beginning.
I have been raised in Middle Tennessee. Some of my childhood was spent on a farm in Smith County, but the majority of adolescence and young adulthood has been inHermitage and other areas around Nashville. My parents, and most of my six siblings, are currently parked in the Nashville/Franklin area.
The way I see it, I’ve been a writer since I was five years old, when my father took my on his knee for a year and taught me to read. Almost from the moment that I was reading books, I was imitating them.
When I was eleven years old, my sister and I put out our first weekly publication: a family newsletter that featured breaking household news items such as “Fire! Local girl saves the day; puts out toaster oven fire with quick thinking and admirable presence of mind!”
My family was a deeply Christian family. We were raised conservatively, with a father who’d been in Christian music throughout 80s and 90s, and a mother who home schooled us. My commitment to the faith was instant and early.
I was an awkward girl, naturally shy, obsessed with the question of whether my hips were too wide, and whether that was why boys didn’t like me as much as my outgoing older sister. I ended up going to college fairly early and studying Journalism. I wrote a humor column, built a fantastic group of friends, and discovered dating and after-school jobs.
It was here that my first concerted attempts at the Good Life were made. Here, I had grand visions for collegiate success: beauty, popularity, good grades and a shining reputation, culminating in a knockout husband and eventual (but optional) career. All ease, all happiness, all adventure and a side dish of good, healthy spirituality.
These dreams began to fail. They failed quickly, and more completely with every passing year. Popularity, come to find out, never satisfied and seemed extremely difficult to quantify. (“Am popular now? Now? What about now?) Beauty eluded me constantly, as I went into an early and frustrating cycle of dieting and weight gain—not to mention the fact that beauty is also pretty tough to measure. (Am I attractive now?
Now Success, ease, and love—these other dreams seemed even more difficult to come by. I graduated from college in 2008, which, I would learn later, was simply an unfortunate time for all graduates. The market bottomed that year, businesses were crashing or downsizing, and I was just one of hordes of over-educated, underexperienced kids trying to wade into the worst job market in thirty years.
I wasn’t married, and I had no prospects. I wanted stability but didn’t know the first thing about earning it. I wanted spiritual peace but had squandered it on compromise and discontentment. The first several years of my young professional experience was as far from The Good Life as things get. I worked jobs that weren’t enjoyable, and were far afield of my degree or skill set. I wandered and drifted—through relationships, through residences, through friendships.
Then, one day, I was converted.
This story is another story, and too long for today. All I can say is that I discovered the God of Scripture, the God who mercifully brings order and peace to our lives. I was rescued by the Savior who delivers our dreams out of the insipid ideas we have about the Good Life—none of them anywhere near good enough or exciting enough.
We get excited about things like money, love, everlasting physical youth, and creative genius; God teaches us that what he’s offering is so far beyond these desires that we’ve been unable to imagine the possibility of his promises.
Five years later, I am a married woman who has worked for the last few years as the Editor of the Macon County Times, a weekly newspaper out of Lafayette, TN. (The Times, incidentally, was a wonderful place to work, a real professional boon to me. The only thing that could have drawn me away from it would be the impending need for flexible hours… for one very special reason that you’ll see below.) I’m about to embark on another professional adventure with Wilson Living Magazine.
My husband just graduated seminary last year and is in the process of becoming a pastor. We’re in the middle of purchasing our first home. We are also expecting a gift that—from what I hear—is incomparable among the human blessings: our first child is due in March.
These things—the home, the love, the job, the friends, the family—these are all the trappings that I ever imagined as a young woman seeking the Good Life. My cup really does, quite literally, run over; I have an embarrassment of blessings.
But something in me is absolutely certain of one thing: these things are not what make up my piece of the Good Life. These things may come or go; God has given and he may take again. And even if they were guaranteed forever, they could never be enjoyed fully without being recognized for what they are: gifts from a good Father’s hand.
It’s a lovely way to live.
And beginning September 2nd, I’ll be living a piece of this good life in beautiful Lebanon, TN. You’ll find me in the office space now partially occupied by Wilson Living Magazine. More information on that to come—we look forward to serving you!