Becca was the last to leave this morning. As she drove off, headed for her Senior year at Baylor University, tears stung my eyes. Not because I’m sad she is leaving, but because I could see that look on her face. Like a reflection in the mirror, I remember the day when I had that look.
In fact while packing yesterday, Becca went in search of old photos. She and her roomies plan to decorate their Waco house with baby pictures. Helping Becca, I managed to get sidetracked. Remember the old days when we actually developed pictures instead of just scrolling through facebook memories? I paged through album after album of the yellowed photos, pausing to remember.
Without warning, nostalgia set in. I thought back to the time when life seemed more full of possibilities and less full of real life experiences. I remembered what used to be, before marriage or kids or brain bleeds or why God moments. I thought about when I, like Becca, was idealistic and confident that I could and would be something great.
It turns out I didn’t accomplish half the things I imagined when I was the naive young woman in this picture with her permed hair and the 80s red turtleneck, oblivious to what the next thirty-five years would look like.
The World was my Oyster
I can’t help but mourn what used to be or what might have been. The world was my oyster. And I believed it to be true.
Instead, I am a wife and a mother and a daughter. I figure out what’s for dinner and pay the mortgage. I call my mom, clean out the litter box, run to the grocery store and wake up every day to do it all again. Life is oh so ordinary.
Becca believes it too
As she drove off, I saw the look on Becca’s face. She believes it to be true too. She thinks the world is her oyster. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
And yet, the hard reality of life is that the world is no one’s oyster. And there is only ONE WAY to learn that inevitable truth.
…by LIVING !
No short cuts
Once again there are no short cuts. Just like that childhood song Going on a Bear Hunt… you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, You gotta go through it.
When I saw Becca’s “look” tears came as I anticipated my capable, independent, responsible, fearless, but also naive daughter going through it. She will go through it too. And it will hurt.
I’m not sad or hopeless or cynical. But I wrestle with the notion that life could be so much better if only things weren’t so ordinary, so hard, so not what I expected.
Back then I was so sure
It’s easy to get stuck in another time and place. Sometimes I wish I was as sure about things now as I was in my twenties. Then, everything was black or white. I dealt with the gentle blows of life with a quick certainty that the right faith could easily deflect. If I followed the rules of course I’d pass go and collect $200. But as time passed and life happened I landed on the wrong spaces again and again and again.
In truth, I don’t want to start the game over. Those were the years when I was so sure of myself, of my own mind, my own strength and my own will. But I was so very unsure of God. And what a vulnerable place to be.
I was going to change the world, but really it was me that needed changing.
My Small Faith
Back then my faith was small, the kind of faith that sits quietly in the corner so as not to make a scene. My timid faith stayed tucked in the closet because well, I had things under control.
A Bigger Faith
But these more recent years, while living in the present, my faith and I have become familiar friends. We have wrestled. I don’t have things under control and I realize that I never did. I’ve prayed prostrate with wringing hands and learned that the faith God fortifies happens in realtime, in the reality of hard, ordinary life.
People say they want extraordinary faith, but do they really? Extraordinary faith is forged in the crucible of life, where marriages fall apart, tumors grow and prodigals don’t return.
An Empty Nest
I go inside. With only two sleeping cats at home, the house is freakishly calm and quiet.
I’ve tried to imagine this day — a real legitimate empty nest. While other moms are pining for their kids who have flown off, I want to do cartwheels. I love my kids, of course I do… but an empty nest represents normal, typical, expected. And that elusive empty nest I was promised two years ago, back when I had ambitious plans, was cruelly snatched from me after only five days. Now two years later, I’m a different person.
Now what, God? MY plans have evaporated. Pinching myself given this new gift that I now hold carefully with an open hand, it’s tempting to go right back to thinking it’s time to change the world. I pour a cup of coffee and force myself to sit down and just Be.
Not My Will
And for me honestly, that’s the hardest thing of all. Being. The truth is my obedience will trump my effectiveness Every. Single. Time. The way I see it, my life of BEING His requires a disciplined release — not my will but Yours.
So now what? I haven’t figured it out yet. But my pace is slow and deliberate yielding to Him. The way I see it, my day-to-day opportunity is to bear witness to the living God — right where I am in my mundane ordinary, sometimes hard, day to day, uncertain life. Period.
That “Look” has Changed
That look, that invincible look back when I had permed hair and was so sure of myself is most definitely gone. It has been replaced with a look that is less sure of me, but confident in Him, His mind, His strength and His will. You’re likely to find me contentedly sheltered under His mighty wings. BEING.
Psalm 91:4. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.