Friday, September 13, 2013

Who cares what strangers think?

Hello.  You still there?  Am I still here?

I miss writing yet lately I feel like I am running out of things to say.  Even what I write in my journal is getting a little dull.  When I am bored with my own private thoughts I clearly don't have anything to say here.

Yet, I find that writing, expressing, sometimes helps me get my mind around where I am at in life, I think out loud.  So I thought I would see what would come out if I sat down here.

A few things I have been thinking about lately:

My life really isn't that bad.  I have very little to complain about.  I live in a nice home, have a loving husband, a sweet daughter, a wonderful son and a beautiful future daughter-in-law.  I have extended family and friends who believe in me, support and encourage me.

Yes, I am in transition and I have needs but over all my life is good and the things I have to complain about really are not problems. For instance, my mom keeps her silverware in the wrong drawer.  While confusing every time I try to grab a fork, this is not really a huge problem.  I was thinking last night while this move and job change stage we are in right now is definitely stressful, very stressful, it really isn't the hardest thing we have gone through  in our marriage and likely there will be many future stresses to follow this one.

Which is not to diminish the fact that we are stressed here but to remind myself that we have overcome bigger mountains and can look back on them and see the joy in the journey.  That is one thing I am always trying to figure out.  Believing each day that this is just a moment, part of life and the days we struggle are just days, they don't define us or our lives.  I can experience joy amidst sorrow.  I always want to remember that God took care of me last time and he will take care of me this time.

I don't know how to define what we are going through.  It isn't a thing, it is a process.  I wouldn't say we are in a trial or a storm or anything.  I think part of why it feels so stressful is because it doesn't feel like a storm or a trial that we need to wait out or get through.  It feels more like a slide down a mountain.  At the end we will be on the bottom.  I feel like the struggle is that I am trying to grab hold of something to stop the free fall and I can't reach anything.  So we just keep falling down, down, down.

The truth is that isn't at all what is happening.  Well certainly one could look at it that way.  Failure.  But we have chosen this path.  If you volunteer to fail did you really fail?  If you purposely quit your job and sell your house is that a failure?  If you have a plan that does not involve living with your parents the rest of your life, if you are working each day to build a business, if your husband is going to school toward a goal, your son is becoming independent and your daughter continues to thrive.  Are you failing?

Then I want to carry a sign with me everywhere I go explaining my life to people.  I want everyone to understand my journey and why, although it may look like it, this isn't a failure.  I wouldn't want a stranger to think I don't know what I am doing.  I want to tell people that I used to be a stay at home mom in a nice house in a fancy suburb.  I used to write deep thoughtful blog posts about my faith journey.  My son used to go to an elite Christian college.  My husband used to have a successful remodeling company.  I want to tell everyone how after the economy tanked and business slowed we realized this was not the career we wanted to fight for and we decided to start all over again.

But why?  Why do I need to explain myself to everyone?  I think people who have to explain themselves to everyone are very insecure.  So I guess I am sitting here telling you that I feel very insecure about my current identity.

(I do think I am over the whole Wheaton thing because I no longer try to explain to people that Jake went to Wheaton and then joined the army.  I just talk about the army.  Well most of the time...)

When I came up with this idea, yes it was my idea, and told John, "I will go back to work full time and you will go to school full time and become a PA!"  I knew it would be a challenge but I wonder if I would have put that exclamation point at the end of my sentence if I really knew it would be this hard.  If I knew we would have to sacrifice this much.

Yet here we are.

John and I have at least one, "what are we doing!?" fight per semester and at the end of every one we conclude that this is hard but we are both fully committed to the plan.  So we keep going forward.  John keeps going to classes, doing homework, getting A's and fitting paid work into the cracks of his schedule.  And I keep working toward the goal of fully supporting us in the next couple years while simultaneously maintaining a balance in our family life.  And our family and friends, who may or may not see the plan as fully as we do, continue to stand by us, support us, believe in us and encourage us no matter what we do.

When I write out my ramble I think we can all understand what my problem is.  Identity.  I still want to identify myself as that homemaker with the successful husband who is busy keeping a lovely home and fully engaged in raising healthy, happy, godly children.  I knew what I was doing and people valued my advice and knowledge.  It is so much easier to look back on that time of my life and only see the beautiful parts and forget the challenges that existed there too.  As much as I loved my 3x/week morning working out the truth is I often wondered what I was doing with my life.  I often felt that I was just killing time and should be using my time more productively.  I can assure you I never wonder that these days.  And as lovely as that time of life was, we were always struggling financially.  So nothing has really changed there.

If I meet a stranger and they think, "poor Melanie, has to live with her parents.  Why doesn't she just go get a real job like everyone else?"  Who cares?  Does their opinion have to define me?  Only if I let it.  Only if I tell myself that same story.  Poor me living with my parents.  Why don't I just get a real job like everyone else?  I am never going to make money at real estate.  I should give up before I embarrass myself further.

SO...Pep talk to myself.  I am on a journey, we have a plan, I am going to succeed, it will be OK.  I enjoyed my past life and am now embracing my new life.  This new life includes extra time with my parents, exploring life in a new community, bonding time each day with Isabelle in the car back and forth to school.  I may not be in the expert stage of working but I am in the learning stage.  Asking questions, reading, observing, experimenting and I love it.  I tell John several times a week, "I know I am not making any money but I LOVE what I am doing and I promise it will eventually turn into money."

I used to talk about how God was leading and directing and encouraging me when I would ramble like this.  So let me assure you, each morning that is exactly what he does.  He reminds me that He is still there, we are still on this plan and keeps me going.  It is because of who I am in Christ that I can sit in this life and say, "who cares what other people think of my journey."  Because I know whether I succeed or fail, who I am is not about what I do, where I live, how much money I have.  It is all about knowing Christ.  My life is not about this moment or the next, my life is about preparing for eternity.  And while we may be a tad behind on retirement, sliding down a financial mountain, I continue to climb a mountain of faith with Christ right by my side.  I have no fear of sliding down that hill.  Not because of who I am but because of what he has done.

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