Wednesday, September 2, 2015
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Yesterday someone close to us let us know she is pregnant again after miscarriage. Her voice sounded happier than it has in a long time, but she still seems unsure of everything. I am so incredibly excited for her and her husband, and I want them to also know joy. I've been praying that they would be able to try again without any difficulties. I pray that the Lord will be kind to them, and lavish them with goodness. I mostly pray, though, that she will be able to hide her heart in Christ and with it hidden there, that she would be able to rejoice even when it seems like God's face is hidden.
After talking with our friend, I felt old. It was the first time I've ever felt that way. Since I turned sixteen, I've always struggled with my age and the process of time. But this was different. It was so much an emotional fight against the inevitable. It was just feeling old.
Over the past week, my body has been hurting. I did something to my knee first and then yesterday I woke up with back pain. Both have kept me from working out and both have been incredibly unpleasant. I'm thirty one years old and yesterday, I could physically feel the process of decay beginning in me. Most likely, I have years left in my life. But my body is already starting to groan and creak in ways that I don't like.
But what really made me feel old is the same question I've been struggling with for more than a year – what have I done with my life so far? I'm thirty one and I haven't had children, I'm just now working on a master’s degree, we don't own a home, we've barely made any money, and I'm not sure any of the things I've worked at for the last decade make a squat of difference. Almost all of our friends and family are solidly in the stage of life in which kids, homes, and careers are well settled and flourishing. I feel like Trey and I have been held back a grade, but it's completely unclear for what purpose.
So I felt old. Not because I really am old, but because I'm so far behind where everyone else my age is. And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to catch up. And what's worse – I now consistently have people in my life telling me I should catch up. I have friends who reprimand me for not having babies and I have friends who wonder when we'll ever have "real" jobs.
I've tried so hard my whole life to live according to what I've believed God is calling me to do. And for many years, I thought it was possible to do that. I did a lot of things I didn't want to do because of it. But now, I don't know that it's not all somewhat arbitrary. That all of the decisions have been mine, only mine, and not some great calling from God. God communicates in his Word and there is nowhere in his Word that spells out the intimate details of my life. I know from the Word what God desires people to be. How he has designed them to live. And I know that his Word applies directly to my life. But it has not told me where to go and what to eat every day.
And yet, I do believe God has directed me here. And I do believe that many of the decisions I made were right. Not because God told me so directly, but because the alternatives would have been taken up out of mistrust and selfishness. The things I've done themselves aren't as clearly good or bad as the reasons for which I've done them. Was there something about each life choice I've made that was clearly God's will for me? No. But in each of those moments of decision was it clear that one choice involved trusting God more and the other involved seeking my own interests more? Yes. While I don't know whether or not the particular things I've done in life "mattered" or were God's plan for me, my conscience is clear that at each turning point, I attempted to my best ability to choose the path that required obedience.
I can't look back on the last decade and know that the things I've done have mattered, or that they will bring me any degree of prosperity. But I can look back on my life and know that throughout it, I was trying to follow God. I may be "behind a grade," but if that's the case, will I be content in knowing I'm here because I've tried to obey and this is seemingly where the Lord has brought me? Is it enough for my life to be defined by attempted obedience, even if makes everything unclear and even if I don't always get it right? When I feel old, can I find my comfort not in the things I've done or made, not even in the places I've arrived at, but rather in the knowledge that in my heart, I'm here because I have tried to obey God? If we never own a house, if my academic aims never pay off, if I am not able to have a baby, will I be ok knowing that what validates my life is not all of the other things that can be substituted for these achievements, but rather the succession of attempts over my life to do as God wanted me to, even if hasn't ever been clear exactly what it is he wants me to do besides love him?
If I can't say “yes” to all of these questions, then I will never find satisfaction as I age. But if I can say “yes,” then it doesn't matter whether I am ahead or behind in life. It doesn't matter if God advances me or keeps me behind. If my peace is in the pursuit of God, then it doesn't matter where I live or how many children I am or am not able to have because they are all just testing grounds, gifted opportunities from God to try to obey him once more.
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About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.