I started a new routine when I moved.
Every morning, I get a cup of coffee and take Roxy on a walk around the neighborhood. We are doing the same short loop – up the street to the school, over one block and back down. I think it’s good for Roxy to get know the neighborhood and good for me too.
Yesterday, as we were walking in the crisp fall air, I felt a little nostalgic. I don’t know what it is about fall that makes me want to settle. There is a yearning in me this time of year for a traditional Midwestern life: husband, babies and the white picket fence. Mornings that start with coffee in a sunny kitchen, followed up by tending to a garden or drying laundry in the cool autumn air. Days spent taking care of babies and maintaining a household. Home-cooked meals and evenings spent on a porch talking about life.
These feelings never last long. By mid-January, once the seasons of family and togetherness wrap up, I find myself sucked back into the ‘achiever’ life and motivated more by personal goals and to-do’s then creating and sustaining a family.
But as I get older? Those feelings don’t fade as quickly.
It’s funny how when I was much younger, fresh out of high school- my whole life seemingly wide open ahead of me- I already had it all figured out. I’d get my college degree, get a fancy job at a CPA firm, get married, have kids and have it ALL. The career, the husband, the house and the babies. I’d be making six figures while making my own baby food. All by the age of 25.
I laugh now to think how naïve I was.
Not one of those things came true. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not regretful at all. I’m quite pleased with the person I’m becoming, the sum of which wouldn’t exist without the experiences I’ve had- both good and bad. I think it’s important to note that I could have never known life so good without knowing what it is for it to be so bad.
I laugh now, not out of pity for myself or bitterness for what might have been, but because I thought at any point I was in control of the outcome of my life.
If I’ve learned anything these first 30 years of life, it is this: No matter how hard I may want to will something or someone into existence, there is a plan in action that is much greater than my fleeting and ever-changing preferences.
I’m reading this book by Shauna Niequist, whom I had the awesome opportunity to meet at the Influence Conference, called Bittersweet.
It’s a collection of personal stories and experiences that sum up the idea that life is both bitter and sweet- that you need both the good and the bad to fully experience the Gospel- death and rebirth. Shauna says this about change:
This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.
I think that paragraph basically sums up my life to this point.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I want my life to be, often fighting the urges I have in order to fit a mold or a plan I’ve been working toward. I’ve tried to avoid dealing with hardship, often telling myself that if it’s too hard, then it’s ‘not meant to be.’ I don’t necessarily believe that is true. Most things good and noble and worth believing in are hard and messy.
Life isn’t a series of perfect decisions and easy, painless experiences.
It is sometimes dark and sad.
It is often more difficult than we want to believe it should be.
But, at the same time,
Life is beautiful and wondrous.
It is bright and shiny and hopeful.
It is full of more love than you or I could ever imagine if we just allow ourselves to be open to it, to experience the hardship along with the good times, to look for God and his infinite love in every little bit.
To experience joy and light…even when we can’t seem to see our way out of the dark.
I had a pretty terrible day and reached out to my girls for prayer. My friend Emily gave me this verse:
"He said, 'That's what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag." Luke 19:26 (MSG)
It's a perfect verse to end this post with. Life can be sucky and hard but if we don't do the hard things, we'll never experience how wonderful it actually is.