Friday, April 7, 2017

The Hidden Gift of a Hard Year

“I’m going to die someday.”

Dan and I were out to dinner a month back, and he asked me what had been on my heart lately (swoon! Fellas, ask your ladies this often. Then get comfortable for the next two to ten hours). This party starter was my response.

“I’m going to die. You’re going to die. What are we doing with our lives? I’m terrified we’re going to wake up in twenty years and still be wishing instead of doing. We are so busy busy busy all the time, but what are we actually doing?”

(I can be a real indie movie when the mood strikes.)

This question is always biting at my heels; annoying me, but urging me forward. I don’t want to waste my life. I want it to mean something. When the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months and the insistent need to do something, to make something happen keeps clawing at me, I can feel drowned in this desperate goal. There’s more, I know it! If I can just push on a little further, if I can just keep the plates spinning, then all of this will mean something. I will have meant something.

But not really, right? Instead of fulfilled, I’m burned out and overwhelmed. I’m spread thin and all anyone gets from me is shallow ground. The family and life I’ve built with Dan becomes a burden instead of the insanely undeserved blessing that it really is. My kids get a mom who half listens to them as she tries to get “just one more thing done.” My husband gets a wife who is stressed and on edge most of the time. My head and heart need breathing space to function properly, but I keep pushing onward instead.  In my frantic efforts to make everything important and to make it all matter, nothing is and nothing does.

I’ve felt convicted about this lately. This deep need to be “involved” and doing a million things. My identity so wrapped up in it that if I let it go, who am I? Will I still matter? Will I be replaced or forgotten? Why do I need to be the quickest or funniest or in the middle of it all? Will I miss out? Why do I care so much if I miss out? 

I turn twenty-nine today. Twenty-eight was a weird year. Hard and relentless most of the time, but also full of grace and mercy and growth (ah, the growth! For once I would like growth to come as I sip margaritas by the ocean, instead of as I struggle not to cry louder than my four kids. But I digress).  It humbled me. Often and painfully, usually. It has forced me to take stock of my life, my priorities. So often I speak my priorities out loud with my mouth but my actions betray where my heart really is. And again, that persistent question nips at my feet. What am I doing? My cup runneth over and I am pouring it down the drain. Squandering it, and for what? Things that don’t matter and feelings that won’t last. The chance to wake up in twenty years and wish I had gotten my priorities straight sooner? What a colossal waste of a beautiful God given life.  

Twenty-eight was hard. It shook me up and pushed me down. I willed it to be done. I wanted it to be over so that I could go back to “normal.” But normal was shallow, and so am I. So, if a year like twenty-eight was what I needed, I will consider it divine and necessary. I will consider it a gift. 

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