Amaya’s room is finally finished enough to post a few pictures. There is more I’d like to do in this space, but with school in session and weeks flying by, I thought I would post… More
In April, I walked away from this blog, purged my overflowing paint room, and figuratively set my creative self aside until further notice. I encouraged myself with thoughts like: “This is the answer. Finally God is speaking clearly through circumstances. Today, at this moment, I know what I am NOT supposed to do. Stop the waffling, cease the analyzing, simply march. Onward, ho.”
So I renewed my teaching credentials, clicked ‘yes’ to numerous substitute jobs in middle and high school classrooms, and marveled daily that they permitted this 40-something nobody into public classrooms with vibrant young people rehearsing for orchestra concerts, molding clay on potter’s wheels, analyzing “A Street Car Named Desire,” and chewing erasers through intense Calculus finals.
It has been 16 years, people. 16 years since I’ve managed a high school classroom, stood in front of little beauty queens with perfect eyebrows, chatted with athletes shuffling their weary selves around in joggers and slides (one must be in this world, ya’ll, to keep up with fashion terms. They used to be called sweats and slip-ons. Keep up…keep up…), sat patiently with the quiet one in the back, listening…..and being.
These kids are amazing, each and every one of them. I sit in their classrooms and watch them interact, listen to their ideas, answer their questions, laugh at their humor, love their naivete-posing-wise. How young and impressionable they are! How full of life and hope and desire! So much potential in their creativity and enthusiasm, their intelligence and perceptions, in their friendships and striving.
And I found something else, too.
Something in me that had long laid dormant. An ember beginning to glow as a tiny wisp of unexpected breeze whispered hello. 16 years a stay-at-home mom. 16 years abiding in my home. 16 years of nurturing, preparing, cooking, creating, studying, praying, cleaning, organizing, calendaring, communing. 16 years of beautiful, precious, aching time that chokes my throat if I ponder its passing.
In me, too, is a teacher who stood, wondering, in a classroom today, and slowly recognized a familiar haven: Home.
My answer is not as clear as it appeared in April. The ups and downs of job security continue to plague us, although this week feels more predictable and stable than last. I’m immensely relieved I didn’t throw away ALL the paint (although the faces of sheer delight at our local dump would’ve made it almost worth a total purge). I’ve applied for two teaching jobs starting in the fall. I finished painting a Tuscan-yellow coffee table I started in March. I started posting on Instagram again. I found an AMAZING vintage iron bed for my daughter’s room makeover.
I recognize now, as I reflect on April, that I was throwing my own version of a fit. With life circumstances shifting from expectations and want, I became disillusioned and resigned. Always a believer in goal-setting — many life decisions, in fact, based on written versions in my planner — lately I ponder where surrender plays in to all of this? How do we walk a holy line embracing and planning life while simultaneously surrendering to it with grace and humility?
In his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl reflects on his time ~ and inmates’ responses ~ to imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps. He came to this conclusion:
“It did not really matter what we expected from life,
but rather what life expected from us.
We needed to stop asking the meaning of life,
and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life –
daily and hourly.”
This is where I am today. Thinking of myself as being questioned by life. Hearing a God who loves and orchestrates and invites quietly ask: “These are the circumstances I have prepared for you. Are you in?”
Today it feels like yes, but surrender often looks more like process than simple choice. Maybe wisdom lies in my surrendering to process.
Sunday after church, we are sitting over spaghetti discussing the highs and lows of our weekend. It takes longer when given more than one day to process, but we are in no hurry. Sunday afternoon looms large.
Popular “high” answers include a visiting nephew, a successful wrestling tournament, a new driver’s license. The unity of celebratory events does not escape me as these moments are, ultimately, the ties that bind. String them together and they are beaded cords of days, months, years which we will one day perceive from a distance with a piercing combination of loss and joy, this dichotomy one of the most powerful emotions of the human heart.
And then the “lows:” Tales of worn-out brake pads, leaving a loved one at the airport, too much homework before Monday.
It is in these precious, unhurried moments of quiet listening and reflection that it dawns on me: Today, sitting over spaghetti with my family on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I can’t think of even one single low. Not one. At all.
I am utterly….contentedly….soulfully…..happy.
At 45 years old, twenty-two years of marriage to Fireman, three half-grown children, years of church/family/friends relationships, and a roller coaster of life circumstances, how deeply do I appreciate that I have not arrived at this place quickly, easily, nor obediently. I admit I unfriended Idealism in my 30’s. At some point, I swapped my rose-colored glasses for readers which, quite frankly, are much more practical.
Like Paul in Philippians, I certainly do know what it is to be in need physically, emotionally, spiritually. I also, all glory to Him, have a small concept of plenty.
But Paul’s secret of contentment has been elusive, a concept of head more than heart because really, aren’t we all, if we’re honest, striving for something more? Working toward the next thing? Wishing this were different, that were better….that WE were better?
This Sunday, gazing at my people face-to-face, basking in their company and humors and shared lives, taking every possible cell of them in to me with abundant joy, immense gratefulness at the privilege of being me ~
Me in this place ~
Me at this moment ~
I sense what it means to wear pure contentment as a royal robe, and to receive it as the precious gift that it most truly is … a gift from a God who most truly loves.
And I will delight in a most holy celebration of its secret.
I’m popping on here quickly this afternoon to update you on some changes taking place with my blog. I am in the process of switching my blogging platform to WordPress, so I have been redesigning a few things and educating myself in areas I didn’t even know existed. I’m being brave, ya’ll!!
Some of you may have noticed when you typed in my old url that you were redirected to this new site…and that’s a GOOD thing, because it means the html I copied, pasted, and formatted actually worked.
Bear with me as I tweak and adjust things around here. I’m already liking the more open feel and format, but I need to work on many more details before it’s where I want it to be.
Baby steps….baby steps.