As I write this, my daughter is asleep in the other room.
And as I write them, the words feel so deliciously surreal.
She was born this past week in the wee hours of the morning as the snow came down. I was so looking forward to the surprise of whether she’d come out a boy or a girl. We’d waited so patiently for her, through days and days of painful prelabor, during which we’d walked in endless circles around our apartment complex, through the snow, and waded through sleepless nights. But I’ll always remember how when they finally held her up for me to see, it never even occurred to me to think whether she was a boy or a girl.
She was a gift. She was my child. She is our joy.
As the three of us settle into our new life of feedings, changings, and lots of sleeping (for her not necessarily, us!), I’m so touched by husband’s strong desire to be with his daughter during every waking and sleeping moment. As I banged out some last minute work on my dissertation this weekend and he held her, it occurred to me that his requests for me to put her in his arms signal his willingness to adjust his life to her, while I had been merely trying to fit her into my already existing one.
With all the parenting buzz and blogs (and no, this isn’t about to become another one of them, don’t worry!), not to mention our time in China, we’re acutely aware of the missteps one can take by making their child the center of the universe. But there is a shift in the orbit it seems. And that’s not a bad thing. Perhaps, and at best, I think, we’re all adjusting to one another, learning to yield and depend and be graceful with one another, and it’s making us stronger and better along the way. We’re stumbling a bit in the newness of it all, but I want to welcome my daughter into new life, not just my life, but a shared, God-given, grace-filled one.
Welcome to the world, Lucia Jayne. Your name means light, and suddenly everything feels new. The cliche is true: things will never be the same again.
I admit that I sometimes go back and read my blog posts.
I don’t think it’s because I’m a narcissist(?), but more because I’m woefully forgetful!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I often have to revisit the same lessons many times to make sense of who God is and where God is calling me, and thank God, God stays faithfully the same. So with November waning, December looming, and 2014 on the horizon, I wanted to take a moment to revisit some of those lessons.
Perhaps you’re like me, and it takes a few times for something to stick. Perhaps you’re like me, and reminders of God’s grace and provision, can never be too frequent or too poignant. So I invite you to revisit some of these posts from 2013, and share your lessons in the comments. What have you learned? Where are you growing? And where are you headed?
I’m reminded that it is in God that the multifaceted call I’ve received finds its unity. This gives me confidence and reassurance when others question, or I begin to question the integration or the practicalness of my own call. It is we who often put limits on God, not the other way around!
I’m reminded that there are really only two ways to live in this world–the one in which we try to prevent others from seeing our imperfections, and the other in which we lay them bare and resolve to love others and ourselves just as God made us. How liberating it is to live into the second truth and to let God shine through the cracks.
I think this may have been one of the greatest revelations of my year, and I’m so glad it came relatively early! I find myself repeating these words to others and myself when I am tempted to let the competitive, swimming upstream tendencies in my career or my life to get the best of me. And I find deep wisdom and comfort in never being too busy to listen to those in front of me.
Thanks to yet another excellent sermon at my church, I began to reflect on what it means to be Easter people, to undergo profound internal change, and yet to still experience great brokenness, pain, and death in this world. For me, holy everything amounts to witnessing and testifying to the holiness of the cross, and the holiness in you and me, in the triumphant and the everyday.
I wrote: “Perhaps this is where my anthropology meets my theology so nearly, neatly, and dearly–in the enmeshing of the sacred and the profane in the everyday lives of people in culture, relationship, and meaning-making. Real salvation is transcendent in that it seeps out of our pores to touch everyone we meet and everything we do. And so I think theological education has to change to respond to not only this reality, but this Truth. It has to equip all these people who are going to be outside the walls of the Church institution, and who will be ambassadors of faith and hope and love in this world.”
I reflected on how deeply our new church community had ministered to me despite the lines I’d been trying to draw between experiences of God in China and back in the United States during our transition.
I wrote: “What if instead of contemplating the origins of disease, asking how the bus driver got lung cancer, or quibbling with the details of disaster, wondering why people bother to live in Oklahoma which is so prone to tornados, we contemplated the length that Christ went for us on the cross, the underservedness of our own grace, and the abundance of grace in a world that’s often so graceless? And then what if we committed to being not the one who speaks, but the one who prays, not the one who solves or fixes or even heals, but the one who recognizes, beholds, and reveres deep need? What if we found a way to acknowledge great hurt, but live with great hope? What if we were one another’s comfort, one another’s grace, each other’s miracles?”
I realized that I often give up on those closest to me, friends and family who have been burned by the church and believe that God is not for them. If I believe that God truly is the God of all of us and doesn’t give up on any of us, how do I reflect that with my life?
I reflected on what it truly means to be content in all circumstances, to find a deep acceptance of what God has given and an even deeper praise for all that God has gone, no matter the ups, downs, or delays in life.
Along those lines of learning contentment, I thought about how empowering, meaningful, and important it is to redefine success in a world in which its often bound up with pride, trampling others, and being number one. I believe that even in academia, it’s possible to live with the sense that being a child of God and doing one’s best constitute the ultimate contentment and satisfaction.