She was already cuddled up for the night beneath her comforter, pillows blooming around her olive skin. While I perched beside her, we spent a minute chatting about her favorite teacher.
I grew up amidst a small, tidy farm in central Illinois. The colors that primarily swirl in my memory are the rustling greenness that stretched in acres of corn or soybeans on every side, or the grass that could only be truly experienced through one’s toes. The affectionately flaking bright red of the barn stands tall in my mind, along with the mottled red of the apple trees, the streaked pink of rhubarb stems, the buttery yellow (and a peeping cacophony) of baby chicks. And there’s the white of our ancient farmhouse trimmed neatly with black shutters. Farms have their own simple beauty.
When my husband and I were dating, he had this (irritating!) habit of asking what I wanted. Example:
Him: Where do you want to go out for dinner?
Me: I don’t care. [I really didn’t!] You pick.
Him, pulling over into a parking lot: No problem. We can just sit here until you know what you want.
See what I mean? Good grief.
Truth: I’m not great at knowing what I want. At least, not since high school. Before high school I knew what I wanted. But that’s when—due to some unhealthy insecurity and a mildly healthy desire to serve and surrender to what God wanted—I uncovered a great delight in pleasing. (My husband maintains that I can please with the best of them, but that lurking underneath is still a strong will to be reckoned with. He even goes so far to suggest that this strong will is attractive to him. I mean, can you trust this guy? Really?)
This has been gut-wrenching lately because when it comes to staying in Africa or moving back to the U.S., I actually did want something very much. I wanted to stay. And after giving up a lot of the things that don’t matter to me, it has at times felt almost a betrayal that God might ask me to give up one of the things that does.
Why does it seem like everyone else my age is promoted, and I’m stuck in Gruntwork Land?
I should be married by now.
I am so. Tired. Of the little kid season. Why did I quit my job?
He started at the same time as I did. How did he get so much further ahead?
Who goes back to school at my age?
I had no idea w hat I gave up when I got married.
What was I thinking?
Everyone else has a baby.
Why in the world did I major in that? I jeopardized my entire career.
Ever feel like your season of life seems…off?
For ideas on how to make the most of these questions, see the first interview.
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I woke up the other day feeling—well. Feeling needlessly angry. (It wasn’t the first time, lately.)
I drilled down a bit in my surly little soul. Anger, I recall, is secondary; it stems from something: disappointment, fear, hurt, sadness. For me, there were slices of sadness—but also a big hunk of fear. More specifically, I felt powerless.
As I was scrawling thoughts for this post, I felt rather sheepish for even labeling that. The reasons I feel powerless are nothing like some of you reading this, huddling (or scramming) when an abusive spouse comes home. Or perhaps you’ve got a boss who makes you feel about an inch high, or even threatened—but you’ve gotta pay the rent. Or maybe you’re a person of color, feeling terrified and estranged after the last election. Or you have a dark diagnosis and a couple of small kids.
One thing I picked up from my Christmases in Uganda: All the glitter and hype of Christmas does have a purpose beyond the secular.
God created seven feasts for the Old Testament Hebrews, which clues me in; these occurred in the same seasons. Maybe the Israelites knew Hadassah made the best matzoh, or Great-Aunt Hephzibah made the best lamb broth, or that the air was filled with chaff after harvest. Heck, Jesus’ big debut was making wine from water for a wedding. The Bible ends with His own wedding. God’s the pinnacle of our joy, of our feasts and revelry. And I think He uses our senses—the whiff of evergreen; the clam dip (it’s a Breitenstein thing); the twinkle lights; Jack Frost nipping at your nose—to cement our minds to what we can’t see.