Saving the Last for Last

Before Jennifer Lawrence became the girl on fire, I read the Hunger Games series. And I reread the books just before the release of the first movie.

Around the same time the Hunger Games film came out, a friend lent me a book. “If you loved the Hunger Games, you will love Divergent,” she assured me.

Another young adult novel about teenagers holding the fate of a postmodern dystopia in their hands? Oh you mean a poor man’s Hunger Games, right? Got it. 

Everything in me wanted to skip ahead and get to the meat. Forget all the preliminary mumbo jumbo and setting the scene stuff,  I wanted to feel the emotions, and know the end of the story. I wanted to know the characters in the new book the way I knew Katniss and Peeta.

Recently, I moved to a new city and started a new job. I am slowly trying to create a life here.

Scratch that.

I am not slowly trying to create a life here. I am in all-out, super-speed, lightning mode to create some kind of life here in Austin.

I got a job, joined a small group, volunteered with an organization, found roommates, and located the nearest Trader Joe’s ASAP.

When I came to Austin, I had a handful of friends already living here. Since being in the city, I have made quite a bit of acquaintances, and find my schedule quickly fills with shows and groups and coffee dates and dinners.

But I am still lonely.

For awhile, I couldn’t figure it out. I have plans every night of the week, when did I have time to feel lonely? Between work and church and CASA and pure-Austin living (read: live music, coffee shops, food vendors, and the outdoors), I don’t even get enough sleep.

I began to doubt my decision. Because surely if it were God’s will it would feel better and not so lonely. At least back there I had my people. At least back there people really knew me.

And I realized I am judging this season’s beginning off another season’s end.

Like starting a new book, I didn’t care about character development or plot lines because it wan’t the Hunger Games and these aren’t my people and they haven’t had my experience. I wanted to feel at Divergent‘s beginning the way I felt at Hunger Game’s end. And it just seemed like too much effort to get through all of that again.

“I just wish I could speed this whole process along,” I lamented to a friend. “I just want to be known the way you know me.”

I want to pick up the remote of life and fast-forward to the good parts, just skip ahead a few chapters.

The community I had in Georgia was a rare, beautiful, messy, hard-fought gift. When I really think back on it, all that mess we went through together created the camaraderie we shared. We didn’t go from shaking hands to sobbing on the couch together in an instant. Life happened in between. Real, raw, messy life.

The moments when it all fell apart were the moments I had people come alongside me, and believe with and for me, and when the time came, we celebrated the heck out of each other. In feast and famine, we loved each other the best we knew how—but it was the famine that made the feast taste so good.

Some of the great friendships of history—Woody and Buzz, Milo and Otis, Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins—birthed out of a journey trekked together. Upon meeting, they shared no instant bond,  some of them even disliked each other.

To wish away the time is to skip over the cultivation process—the gestation of new life, the fermentation of good wine. I want to surrender to the process and live fully in the in-between. I don’t want to skip ahead to the end, I want to save the last for last. And live the best today and everyday.

There is something about experiencing life together, the good and the bad, that brings us closer. If you ask me, it’s vulnerability.

“A year ago that’s the last thing you wanted, to go deep,” my friend laughed at the irony of my sorrows.

“See what you people did to me!” we both laughed into the screens of our facetime call.

Experiencing the journey is what makes reaching the destination beautiful and worth it. I am not going to miss out on that.


  1. Aubrey Hubbell · October 17, 2013

    Wow, this must be a God thing. The theme this week among blogger’s seems to be creating community with the common thread of moving to a new state. I posted earlier this week about the feeling of leaving a precious community (in Georgia no less) when I moved to Colorado. It’s such a difficult time, but you’re so right – we have to enjoy the process. We’re creating memories with new friends and building that relationship, slowly. It takes time, but it’s not easy. I’m with you, girl. Thank you for sharing this completely relatable experience!

    • carriehokanson · October 30, 2013

      Thanks for sharing, Aubrey! How comforting to know we are not alone in this awkward, uncomfortable push-and-pull of life. Savor the little moments and spaces that weave together your journey.

  2. ashleyjhiggins · October 17, 2013

    kel and i were just saying last night how you needed to write a blog. this is perfect. such a good picture of where you are, but it’s radiating with hope of where you’re headed. love, love, love you. so thankful for you! Xoxo

  3. throughthelynds · October 17, 2013

    totally, totally get it. thanks for your words and the challenge to be present in what’s going on NOW. i don’t want to rush through life and the in-between either. because i like good, solid friendships and i like good, solid wine. 😉

    • carriehokanson · October 30, 2013

      Yes. Solid friendships, solid wine. Two things I am happy to share with you!

  4. Micah · October 17, 2013

    So beautifully written, and oh do I understand where you are. The beginnings are hard, they are uncomfortable, and they often feel like they require way more effort than I am always willing to put forth… and oh how that loneliness so sneakily creeps its way in. But you’re right…. “I am judging this seasons beginning of another season’s end.” So good. Believing such beautiful things in store. Love you and miss you!

    • carriehokanson · October 30, 2013

      Mikes, it is crazy how many of us are going through this tension together, albeit separated by states and miles. I am so glad we can still stand beside each other and declare the promises together. In the words of the great band Journey, well ya know…

  5. Good word. And we sure do know how to feast. Nobody can throw together a bottle of two-buck chuck and gas station fro-yo quite like we can. 🙂 i love and miss you so mucho.

  6. kelly chadwick. · October 17, 2013

    Yep, we were just talking about you writing last night! I didn’t realize this season was going to have quite so many beginnings myself and I’d like to skip ahead a few. 🙂 Miss you around here!

  7. Ms Patti · October 17, 2013

    Good word Carrie!!!!! Believing for you that this next season will be even better than the last ones, because you have new tools and new life experiences to help you in this season and you have more brothers and sisters to help you on the journey! Proud of you! Love you! Xo

  8. Stacy P. · October 17, 2013

    Oh goodness, yes. So well put. Ahh the journey…so hard and messy and lonely at times but it really is worth it. I have the feeling I’ll be needing to read this again in 3 months. Love you and miss you so much more than I can say!

  9. April Clark · October 18, 2013

    What I take from this is that you like trader joes more than HEB??? It makes me a little sad.
    Also im so impressed at how fast you got your stuff together– job + church+ volunteer + social life isn’t easy!

  10. Janssen · October 21, 2013

    Very well written 🙂
    I see a very successful future for you!

  11. Han · October 23, 2013

    Great blog, as usual! And totally relatable! Thanks for putting it so well 🙂

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