the paths we choose

After having a facebook account, I have come to see the many paths my classmates have taken in the 7 years since high school graduation. However, the paths chosen seem to fall into three main categories: 1) College, a profession, marriage, and/or kids, and/or grad school, 2)The Bar scene, maybe a little college, still in hometown, and 3) Adventure, travel, no ties of relationships, etc. It's kind of hard not to think about what life would be like if I had chosen another way. Sometimes still being in my hometown with old friends sounds nice. I see their pictures of being together and drinking and having fun. Then I also see the people who fled completely and have traveled, and crossed the ocean, and lived in the jungle even, the mountains, near the ocean.

I (obviously) chose the path of college and marriage and kids. I think those things turn out in the way they are supposed to- especially in the area of children being born. I think the date of a child's birth was meant to be and planned by God before the creation of the earth (even if the parents didn't plan it).

But what would my life have been like? My husband and I still talk about moving somewhere, just for a while. But we have our little girl, now a toddler, who loves seeing her grandparents on a regular basis and I know they would be heartbroken to miss some of these early years of hers and another one should he/she come along. It really has seemed to me that the second my little girl was a born a clock began ticking loudly in my ear. Tick tick tick. She grows every single day. I can almost visibly see it happening. And now she's 17 months and we are like, "We wanted our kids close in age but that means we have to have another baby NOW?!!!" And it sooo limits us in our lifestyle and goal options. My husband is thinking of seminary- but how could we pay? Would I have to work to support us? What would we do with our kids? We would have to move. Move away from family- is it worth it? People with no kids do not have to deal with these issues. They can go out and stay out late. They can spend all of their money on themselves. Their houses stay cleaner longer. They get to be ridiculously selfish. Some days I want nothing more then to be selfish- if nothing else at least with my time.

But I also think about loneliness. I guess I have been blessed with never having felt lonely, at least not for a long extension of time. I guess maybe the grass is always greener on the other side. If I was a single woman traveling the world with all of that freedom and spontaneity and my very own money would I be lonely, deep down? Would I long for a nest of my own and the predictability of every morning being wrapped in a man's arms who has promised his life to me? Would I long to feel a baby growing inside of me? Would I long to be a mama with a stroller and a cool diaper bag and big sunglasses and an awesome tan because I get to be outside every day playing with my little one? I have that now. I have that now! And I love it! It is so good to remind myself that I chose this life because I wanted it. There are a lot of sacrifices, but really, in the summer, if I want I can go to the pool every single stinking day!!!!!!! In the fall we can go for walks with our dog and play in the leaves every day if we want. Year round I can put on our favorite music loud and dance like crazy. I live with a man who genuinely thinks I am the most beautiful woman he knows (although it has taken me awhile to actually believe that.) I do love my life. Just 2 hours ago I was out having lunch with my friends and their babies- so fun! When I really think about it- this is what I want for myself- this is what I have always wanted for myself. My husband and I will be young empty nesters (like my parents). We will be able to do so much then- and we will have more money to do it too (maybe) then if we didn't have kids now. A lot of people are waiting longer nowadays to have kids and they are having a good, free time now, and that's ok. But I like what I have. I love what I have. Look at those pictures of my baby girl there in the margin of this blog! And she loves me more then almost anyone in the whole world. Do you know what that is like?!!! And I love my little nest, woven and spun just the way I want it. I love inviting people to enter into it and feel welcomed and wanted and fed and happy here. Because I am happy. I am safe. I am wanted.
Okay. That's enough of that.
This is the path I have chosen. And seriously. I'm only 26!!! Who knows what else is in store for me.

struggling to stay awake

There is a story from my childhood that I used to love to read. It's either by Frank Peretti or Max Lucado, I can't remember. Anyway, the story is about two brothers who arrive on an island with 'the captain" (I think he may be their grandfather, not sure). Anyway, it is very evident that he loves them very much. But he has to leave them there for a little while. But he promises he will come for them, they just need to watch the horizon. He reassures them of how very much he loves them. He also warns them to not go back into the jungle on the island. He says the things in the forest are not good and to stay near the shore and watch for him. The three say a tearful good bye and the captain sails away. The boys watch him until they can see his ship no more. So morning after morning, day by day, they watch for him. After a while one of the brothers starts to turn his gaze back toward the forest. And talk about it. And wonder about it. One night, he succumbs to temptation and goes in. When his brother confronts him the next morning the two argue. "There is nothing bad about this island after all. Why won't the captain let us go in it?" the one brother asks the other, and he says he doesn't think the captain is coming back or even loved them in the first place. Little by little this brother begins to spend more and more time in the forest. Somedays he doesn't come back at all. His appearance even begins to change. His blue eyes are no longer blue, but grey. Everything about him is turning grey, just like the island. The other brother tearfully continues to watch the ocean's horizon pleading for the captain's return. Then one day, he sees it. The captain has returned for them! Unfortunately, his brother has not returned from the forest. He has been gone for days now. The captain and the boy are forced to leave the boy on the island, mourning in the knowledge that he has made his choice to stay.

This story, ever so simple, seems to speak to me in more depth now as adult. How we tire of watching! How we tire of trying to remember this good God we are waiting for. How we try to remember what we are even watching for. How the place we live starts to seem okay, good even, after being away from home and the captain for so long. How we long to be done with the endless waiting. It's like trying to stay awake when driving at night while exhausted- so much focus and energy and strain...

In the Bible, Paul wrote a letter to the Romans of that time who were struggling. This is part of his letter:

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation WAITS in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. Against its will everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious FREEDOM from all DEATH and DECAY. For we know that all creation has been GROANING as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also GROAN TO BE RELEASED from PAIN and SUFFERING. We, too, WAIT anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the NEW bodies he has promised us.
"Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this FREEDOM.
"And the Holy Sprit helps us in our DISTRESS. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with GROANINGS that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit PLEADS for us believers in harmony with God's own will. And we know that God causes all things to work togther for the good of those who LOVE God and are called according to his purpose for them.
"What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatend with death?
"I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from his love. Death can't. Life can't. The angels can't, the demons can't. Our fears today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD, which is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:18-23,26-28, 31, 35-39)

The truest, most honest prayer from my heart has no words. There are no words, only groans and sighs and tears and frustrations and sometimes, joy. All wordless. And the Bible says that God knows our hearts and wants our good and has a purpose for our lives. He understands- he wants to hear our hearts. I don't want to get mushy. So I will just leave it at that.

This video so resonates with me and my experience. Check it out: