I Just Thought Things Would Be Different
Flashback to five years ago.
I was pregnant with Annika, heart and belly swollen up with the pressing of a miracle on it's way. I would walk with my hands rested just above the tips of her little toes while she waited, upside-down and completely unknowing, to enter my world. I was filled, in so many ways, with complete wonder.
The yellow flowers climbing the wall outside the hospital were especially mysterious to me because I had read (in my extensive research of drug-free childbirth) that my senses would be heightened to ultra-sensitive levels during labor. I imagined passing them and wondered, would the yellow be more yellow? Would the fading San Antonio summer be full of smells I'd never noticed before?
In reality, labor hit me hard and fast and there was no loveliness when Josh pulled me from the car in front of the yellow flowers - me, sweating and crying and vomiting again on the sidewalk. There was no tenderness in the unfathomable pain that wracked my body. No quiet rest between contractions, no time to ponder or pray, no candles or Sigur Ros or kissing my husband. (That's a thing in natural child-birth, just fyi.)
Despite all my confidence and preparation, labor was still extremely painful and hard. Annika was still taken away shortly after birth and slept her first nights in the NICU. I still spent the first days of her life in a slightly numb cloud of physical and emotional recovery.
It was all wonderful in it's own way, but it wasn't what I expected.
You'd think I might have learned my lesson.
But here I am, five years later and eight months into life here in Seattle, asking in the quiet moments why I can't seem to be at peace here, and realizing that it (yet again) has everything to do with my own expectations.
It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't been so dang happy in Arkansas. There is no lack of happiness here in Seattle, that's not the true issue. There is no lack of a great church or sweet house or friends or life. There are all of those things, there is just some thing - in me - that isn't here.
And the lack of that thing? It stretches out into other things and makes them lacking, too.
A Bible sitting on the table with old mail piled on top. My recipe books hidden away in a cabinet over the fridge. A garden full of weeds, choking out the harvest. A journal (and blog) empty of the soul-digging that keeps my head clear and wheels turning.
It is only in Advent that I have come into these quiet moments and stayed long enough for answers. It is in Advent that I have remembered God in the garden, walking, seeking, asking me always... "Child, where are you?"
So I have said, as I always must, "Lord, I am here."
And as he pulls me out from behind the bushes, into the light, into His light, I squirm and mumble and finally spill... "God, I just thought things were going to be so different than they are."
I thought I was going to be homeschooling. Gardening. Volunteering in the city and camping in the mountains. Urban in the cool, strangely non-urban way that Seattle people are. I thought I'd be blogging often and finally navigating a career in writing. I thought I was going to be growing and changing in all of those ways.
I thought Fayetteville was the beautiful labor. I thought Seattle would be the birth.
But instead I am pretty much the same girl I was eight months ago, with less of a tan.
I'm not that good at gardening, my daughter is going to public school next year, and I feel like I had an awkward break-up with my blog. I find that I don't want to be urban, I just want to hang out with my chickens and next-door neighbors. I still just want to love God and love people in a normal, everyday way that looks pretty much the same way it did in Arkansas.
And even though there shouldn't be too much wrong with that, I find myself feeling so wrong and restless and wondering when I'll "find myself" here. It's like an identity crisis, possibly just because I expected my identity to change in some fast and awesome way as soon as we drove past the Space Needle.
I still feel a whole lot like.... me.
So, I need to ask him why my heart feels like its laboring in such an unpleasant and unexpected way. I need to just walk with him in the coolness of the garden and talk with him about it. But instead, I feel like I'm ducking behind bushes and hiding a nakedness that I've been told should shame me. Again and again, I need him to draw me out and question where I found my "truths."
I see him wrapping his first children in skins, covering their nakedness and shame with unnecessary grace. Even after they trusted lies, even after they sought to control their own destiny, even after they ran away and wallowed in their own regret.
I hear him asking, the same question echoing throughout the hearts of human history, "Child, where are you?"
And I come forth so that he might wrap me up, too.
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