It's fair to say that I have not done a great deal of looking ahead lately. I've been sitting around today pondering all the reasons for that:
1. This is the year of Paying Attention. I'll simply say this because the year isn't over yet, and there is still work to be done in me in this theme (will there ever not be?), but I had no idea, not an inkling of what was writ for my life last January, and for once, I am glad of not knowing.
2. Since May, it's literally been a matter of mental and emotional, and sometimes even near physical survival. I've wrestled demons, faced fears, and felt my heart ripped open. I'm so glad there were also islands of great joy. Sometimes arriving at those warm beaches was the only thing that got my feet on the floor in the morning.
3. Occasionally, I've been too afraid to look ahead, because what if what was up there was harder than what is right here?
4. God, in many ways, has been very quiet. He is quite present, sometimes tangibly so, present as a fragrance in the air and touch on the shoulder. But His presence has been very much about right here and now, when I've been asking forecasting questions that are, apparently, not available for answer at this time.
And so I stopped looking ahead except so far as what appointment was next on my calendar. I faced each day prepared for things to come to a grinding halt, plans to suddenly be superseded or rescheduled. I made peace with each moment as it came to the best of my ability. It truly was the best way to manage myself and my family. There was a great deal of freedom and liberation in releasing expectation and knowing that only what was happening right now could be known, experienced and affected. It's been a learning experience for this control-grasping planner, and I am grateful for the grace to learn surrounded by love and support and laughter.
But there is no denying, the very earth itself is telling me with each near-cool morning, with each soft hesitant whisper of fall, that life is composed of a symphony of seasons, each with harsh moments and sweet joy. Though I don't have all -- many? any?-- of the answers I have sought and still seek, my season is changing too. I was a bit surprised to find I'm not overwhelmed in looking ahead a little bit. My husband is a visionary; he digests and plans spans of time that make my head spin. I do not know that I will ever function on that level of forward thinking, but we are coming into my favorite seasons and even before we know it, we will all be sweeping into the holidays -- some of you just shut the page and walked away when I said that. I don't want to miss out on the delicious anticipation I usually feel as the days shorten and the year ticks to a close.
I'm a cross roads where I can deny that my season is changing or I can shore up my battered little heart and look ahead again, and be excited instead of weighed down with responsibility and the unknown. I'd like answers, but I can wait now that I have practiced being very present. I can embrace who I am and at the same time strive for more: more life, more joy, more laughter, more challenge, more love. I can do these things, not of my own strength, but because while I was too weak to look ahead, God held me close and covered me with His mighty hand. He filled my own small hands and my heart with this family and these friends who know all my yukky selfish bits as well as they know anything God has made beautiful in me, and who choose to focus on the beautiful. He gave me an army, and He armored us in grace with love as our weapons and joy as our shield, and now I can march forward again