In the past (almost) four years of marriage, my husband and I have moved six times, occupied three different states, lived in the inner city, the suburb, the country, and the REMOTE country. We have collectively possessed nine different jobs, started one business, completed one year of seminary, owned three cars and two scooters, created/birthed/raised one 19-month-old son, and rarely had health insurance. Money has always been tight. Our entire marriage has consisted of transition. And I’m exhausted. I’m tired of the change, the constant flux, the incessant management of crises. There was a time when it felt romantic and adventurous, like a hip indie flick. I felt sure that it was culminating to something, that one day, we would laugh at the uncertainty we once felt, knowing how essential those spaces were to getting us here, the somewhere
Then it would all make sense and nothing would be for not. Lately I have grown skeptical of my anxious attempts to weave serendipity into our life. Is there a thread of continuity? Or does it merely help me sleep at night? Am I on an “epic” journey or am I just a little bit stupid? Possessing a sprinkle too much faith in people, slightly too willing to “try things out.” While friends were charting their five-year plan and investing in retirement, we were taking chances and feeling “enlightened” by life’s impermanence. And right now, I doubt it all. Were we naive and irresponsible, resisting life’s practicalities and chasing obscure dreams out of an inflated sense of grandiosity (imbued by our “for such a time as this” evangelical undergirding)?
Was it Grace that brought us here? Or have we just been trying to make the most of the cards we were dealt? If so, why do I need to put some shiny spin on it? Can I not stoop to the ordinary grappling of inexplicable circumstances which plagues my fellow neighbor?
It all makes me wonder: how helpful is the narrative of “extraordinary destiny” that is frequently fed to my generation? The Gospel has coalesced with American individualism to engender a whole lot like me, who can’t work a job at Starbucks without some elaborate explanation for how this weaves into the “larger plan.”
But what if it doesn’t? What if they’re hiring and you just need to pay your bills? And yes, there are lessons to be learned, there are always “take-aways.” But what if that’s it? What if you are simply subjected to the same fiscal obligations as the rest of the adult population? And while that may sound like a depressing perspective on life, part of me finds it oddly liberating.
The truth is that I’m not sure about what we’re doing here. There are days when I feel convinced that this is where we need to be, but there are more days, like today, when I wonder how I got here. How, on the week I was supposed to be graduating from seminary with my friends in Atlanta, I am instead nursing a fussy 19-month-old on a 4,000 acre dairy farm in rural Missouri (you can laugh, the juxtaposition is comical!).
I have tried to hold my life loosely, to not make rigid plans. I have mostly seen this as a virtue. But tonight, I question. Virtue or vice? And while I am still mostly thankful for the adventure of our lives to date, I envy those who have made a life/career plan–any kind of plan, really–and accomplished it. It sounds seductively satisfying.