There is no longer a guidance counselor or custodial parent outlining their next steps. On the edge of the proverbial nest, they are taking big leaps with wings that have been strengthened for two decades in preparation. They aren't yet sure about the flight...how long, how far, how high, at what speed...and they are learning that so much of this season is about praying, then taking off--trusting the wind of the Spirit to carry them as they flap and soar.
It has been a sweet, healing experience for me to sit and talk with these women. I've experienced several different legs of my flight so far and still find myself in those places--wondering if I am really honoring God. Have I grown too complacent and lazy on this particular ledge? Or have I taken on too much? Are my wings flapping much harder than intended because of my pride and need to prove my worth?
And I hear the whisper in my heart: Slow down, child. One step at a time.
Once upon a time I was an independent young woman with no idea what the Lord had for me in terms of the future. I vividly remember driving away from Tuscaloosa, AL in my dented, light blue Honda Accord with a degree, a job offer and only enough belongings to fit inside that sedan. I did well professionally, free from any definitive career aspirations, striving to do my best and honor God--trusting Him with the details of where it would all lead.
I was not actively seeking my "Mrs. degree" but really hoped God would see fit to bring me a mate and little ones. I was not in any real hurry and kept busy with what He put before me 'in the meantime.' There were amazing experiences in that season.
In my late 20s, God did bring an incredible man into my life. It took a few years, a couple of moves and major heartache before we married in February of 2002. The desire of my heart came at a cost. As a result of that union, my career took a major detour/derailment. I left a job I loved, a team of incredible co-workers, a nice salary and fulfilling ministry to move to a new place several states away for one brief year. In Virginia, I worked a mindless job that felt more about covering our utilities than any sort of call. In what can best be described as a 'placeholder year,' my ministry work went from relational to hourly shifts and we counted the months until we would begin our job hunt for the place where we would build our nest and plant our family. I wonder what blessings I missed by looking constantly towards the next thing.
I was not bitter about what I 'gave up' to get married. I felt peace that he was the One and this was the path God had marked out. I didn't always love it, but it was a tradeoff. Trading my maiden name and the identity that came with it to become better known as "Dr. Scott's wife" did inspire a few pride-fueled pity parties every now and again. Honestly, it only got worse when I earned my new name: "The One Who Has the Triplets."
I wish I could say this whole issue was worked out once and for all long ago, but it wasn't. It has taken different turns and led me to lots of soul searching in the process. Although none were overt, I can look back and see how I pursued different identities through the last nine years: Super Mom, Volunteer of the Year, Wonder Wife, Social Butterfly... They have all required compromise, yet not one has been my ultimate fulfillment.
As a woman who still stays at home although my children attend school, I've felt additional pressure to justify 'what I do all day.' In the midst of a tough season of wrestling with it all this Spring I heard myself say out loud to my husband: It's not that I am discontent, I just want a good answer for 'what I do.' Yikes! Talk about a petty motivation.
I've pondered several noble pursuits: a masters in counseling, fostering, writing more, leading a major fundraising effort for a terrific cause... but at the end of each exploration I have realized that I am not feeling 'called' to those things as much as I am feeling insecure about my position in life and in search of a noble sounding answer to other people's questions.
And somewhere in the last couple of months a refrain has taken residence in my heart and soul: This is your call, Jen. In this season, THIS is it. Be here.
I have a very busy husband to whom I pledged to be a helpmate. Everyone has a different deal, but in our marriage it means the house, the finances, the food, the errands, the trash cans, the car maintenance and pets--it's all on me to manage.
There is no way for me to adequately convey the stress my husband is under in his job 14+ hours a day. He never gets to turn it off. It is not workaholism--it is real life in his profession. Several times a week, he is the one who tells patients their biopsy results. He's the face they will always remember uttering the words: "It is cancer." When on call (every 4-5 nights) he's the one tasked to speak to worried family members. He spends hours in the ICU with very sick patients counseling through end of life issues. Between clinic and OR time, he sees over 100 patients in a given week. All must be dictated. Even when he is home, phone calls are steady, research must be read, charts signed. Often when he is staring off into space, I know he is thinking through the course of action for a particularly sick patient.
The reality is that my greatest sphere of influence is loving and supporting my husband through work here at home so he is free to minister in this extraordinary call. It is behind the scenes work, full of much 'mundane' for those few moments each day that matter. They come when least expected, so I must be available. I'm 'on call' too.
The reality has also set in that I have a decade remaining before my children will (hopefully) launch.
All those other seasons and experiences weren't 'given up' for this, they were preparation.
Live and love and serve here until I prompt your heart for something else.
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.
I Corinthians 7:17 NIV
As I was wrapping up this post, I glanced up at a card my friend, Cabell, made me some time ago and it made me smile.
(reference 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message)