Sunday, November 08, 2015

I Used to Think

I wrote this post for Sarah Bessey's synchroblog.

I used to think that by the time I was the age I am now, I’d have life figured out.  I’d be able to shave my legs without cutting myself, every time.  I’d be able to make Christmas cookies without all the dough sticking together.  I’d know how to respond to criticism gracefully.  I wouldn’t be insecure.

Turns out, I don’t have anything figured out.  And especially that last one.  I think I’m almost as insecure as I ever was, almost as insecure as my middle school students, except that now my insecurities are over different things.  I don’t have problems talking to boys any more, and I rarely worry about the condition of my skin.  Instead, I wonder if I’m communicating at all with kids who think I am so very very old.  I feel irrelevant sometimes.  I worry about whether I’ve accomplished anything worthwhile, and whether I ever will. 

I still get competitive, still feel that I’m not enough, that other people have got it together in a way I never will.  Other people are better friends, better moms, better teachers.  Other people are cooler and more fun.  Other people are aging more gracefully.  I’m mortified to admit that I still get jealous, just like I did when I was fourteen.  Instead of thanking God for what He’s given me, I brood about what I don’t have.  I fight against changes, kicking and screaming and demanding to have the past back again. 

Oh, some things are better.  I’m not the first year graduate student who used to obsess for hours over the mistakes I made teaching, for example.  Now I can shrug and say, “I was wrong.  Here’s what I should have said.”  Sometimes I have moments of awareness that I’ve made some progress, that I reacted maturely to a situation, that I trusted God instead of worrying, that I behaved like the person I want to be.  But sadly such moments are not as frequent as I’d like.

I’m starting to think that I’ll never have life figured out.  I hope I’ll keep caring less and less about what others think of me, and that I’ll learn more and more not to worry about the future, but the fact is that every age I reach has its own challenges.  I’ve got lots of experience being a person, but none living this particular day.  I’ve got years of experience being a mom, but none with these particular kids at these particular ages.  As Sara Groves writes, “The path is worn, but for us it’s new.”  It’s not about figuring it all out and then resting peacefully until death.  It’s about living each day, following Jesus.  It’s about trusting God for this day, for this moment.  I’m learning that not having life figured out is just synonymous with being alive.


Jessica Stock said...

Ruth, I love this post. I can relate to all of this. One of the things I have always loved and admired about you is your humanness- the way you live honestly and sincerely and feel deeply.

Sarah Bessey said...

Love that, Ruth - the path is worn but to us it's new. So good! Thank you for this, sister.

Tricia said...

I’ve got lots of experience being a person, but none living this particular day. - good reminder!