Thursday, February 16, 2012
I had a nice little chat with one of my best pals a few weeks ago and she and I were shooting the breeze about life like we normally do. Except that when I speak with my peeps, even our shooting the breeze, somehow has significant meaning, if you know what I mean. You all have those types of friends...the ones that just clarify things for you without even meaning to, the ones who encourage you even in your stupidity, and who care for you through thick and thin. Yep...one of those friends. I'm blessed with a good number of those in fact and I'm thankful for all of them.
Anyhow, she and I were discussing how often, in both of our lives, we've done things backwards. For example, Steve and I got married BEFORE we both graduated college. Yes, people we did. And let me tell you, we got some major flak for it. I'm not saying that's the only way to go. But for us, it was right. We had been dating a significant amount of time, knew we wanted to marry and felt that it was time to commit ourselves. Nothing wrong with that. Oh but there was to many others. We went against the societal "norm" that looks to have people "settled" in comfy jobs, big incomes and steady situations before they wed. We were just college students. But those first years were absolutely foundational to our marriage. They taught us to live on quite a little, to work hard, to learn to build together, to be generous with what we did have and to save diligently. I wouldn't trade those years for any sort of comfort at all. So in that, we were backwards.
Then we got pregnant only a few years in (a little over two years to be exact). At least both of us were graduated at this point (yes, both of us finished!). But Steve didn't have a steady job at this point yet. He was an intern at our church making pennies on the dollar to supervise high school students and run their events. It was a super fun life, but not financially expedient. We knew he needed another job but months of looking found us nothing. Finally, at the last minute, God provided a teaching job at Steve's old high school. And we transplanted our whole life, with a three day old infant in tow, back up "home" to see how things played out. Definitely not done the "smart way." Backwards.
Then we started having children. Lots of them. Less than two years apart. In this part of the country, that was just unusual. Very unusual. Didn't we know how this whole thing worked...the birds and the bees, I mean? If I had a penny for how many times I was asked that, I would be a millionaire. I thought the answer was obvious but, anyhow, too much information. My point is that we went against the norm with that too. And so, we found ourselves once again, backwards.
After a few children, Steve decided he really wanted to pursue his Masters in Math. It would've been easier for him to have done it earlier. Truthfully, it would have been. Because then, we wouldn't have all this "baggage" (children) to carry around with us while doing it. Wouldn't that have been the best way? But it wasn't. Not for us. For Steve, this was the best way. He needed time, maturity and the pressure of providing for his family to turn out some of the best academics of his life. He's always been smart enough but his will wasn't there before. So even though it was backwards, in the end, it was best. Ironically, he's been more successful now in his studies than he ever would've been in his early twenties because he needed to grow into it. It's amazing how that works.
But also, here's the thing. Difficulty is difficulty. Yet difficulty isn't necessarily bad. I think we like to set ourselves up to live cushy lives. I'm not going to lie. I want to be cushy. Nevertheless, cushy isn't what builds us and stretches us as people. And sometimes, surprisingly enough, doing things backwards is the only way to go forward. Because when you have to work hard and go against the grain, you learn something called perseverance and that pushes you to work that much harder and reach that much further. Difficulty builds character. Difficulty inherently produces success of some sort in the end. It may not be "earthly" success. But success is there if you look hard enough.
Everyone has their story. Yours won't look like mine. And it doesn't need to. But don't be afraid to do things different. Definitely seek wisdom. I do think there's a difference between being backwards and being straight up foolish. But, if you feel you're on the right path and you want to honor God, ask Him to bless it and trust Him as you move forward.
As I was chatting with my friend, we finally came around to the conclusion that out of all the backward things we had done in our lives, God had still blessed us both-tremendously. It may have taken us longer to get where we wanted and we may not have accumulated all of the wealth or possessions we could have if we had taken a safer path, but it was clear. God was with us. For without Him, there is no way our backwards wanderings would've ever turned into a clear path-ever. His ways are higher than ours. And He does whatever He pleases. All we can do is trust what He has for each of us and then try and do our absolute best with what He's given us.
Let me just say this. If I had taken the safe route, I may not have ended up marrying Steve (tragic!) because, in other people's words, how can you commit to someone when you're so young? And if we had waited until Steve went through grad school to have children, we definitely would not have had the wonderful life that we have had here. And we definitely wouldn't have this big boy....
Or this brave boy....
Or this little man....
Or this little darling...
Or this precious gift to come...
I'll take backwards.
It's been worth every single second of hard work and tears to me. The lessons have been invaluable and the blessings God's given, too numerous to count (well, five definitely for sure). Our hearts are full.
PS: For those of you who didn't catch my hint, we are expecting #5 in mid August. August 11th is the due date, which is the day before Steve and Isaac's birthday. I'll be 15 weeks on Saturday.