Since “Reflections on Life As a Workaround” is the current subtitle of my blog, I thought it might be helpful to elaborate on the idea a bit here and in future posts.
I suspect I am not alone in the realization that this life – the one I am living now – is not at all the life I would have predicted when I was younger.
What was I envisioning?
There was a time when I thought I would be a missionary to a foreign country because as a young child, I had this idea in my mind that God would love me more if I worked really hard for Him. I desperately wanted that love.
But I never became a missionary.
I majored in advertising in college, worked in radio, print, public relations and promotions for about a decade after graduation and wandered away from God for a long time. It wasn’t until years later that I began to truly understand grace and His desire for a relationship with me, whether I “worked really hard for Him” . . . or just accepted His immeasurable, unconditional love.
I also thought I would be a schoolteacher because I loved the idea of making charts, writing down the grades for all the students, and keeping track of information. I wanted to collect the milk money on Mondays and make sure all the children got one of those little cardboard half-pints at the mid-morning break.
But I never became a schoolteacher, either.
I didn’t even like kids all that much until I had my own! Instead, after I grew disillusioned with the advertising world, I became an FBI agent. I made plenty of charts, kept track of lots of information and wrote reports of everything I did on each case. I made sure criminals got what was coming to them, too, and it wasn’t half-pints of milk.
As a young girl, I assumed I would someday be happily married and have twins – one boy and one girl – and my perfect little family would live on a ranch with acres and acres of property to explore, always on horseback and always at a full gallop.
But I grew up in Key West – no livestock there! – and my track record on marriage turned out to be less than stellar. I had one beautiful daughter who I would have instantly died for the moment I laid eyes on her. And I found myself raising her alone from the time she was about 17 months old.
During those years, I taught single parents as a volunteer leader in my church, coaching them along in their spiritual journeys as they struggled to understand that with Christ, they could pass more than just a “broken baton” to their children.
A lot of how my life turned out was just the way circumstances unfolded. Families move, interests change, people disappoint. But a good part of my plans also got derailed because of my own bad judgment and ill-advised decisions.
Let’s just call it what it is: sin.
The consequences caused pain and heartache, and required a lot of adjustments along the way. But I realize now that God accompanied me through all of it and looking back, I see how He continues to redeem my life, even through all these workarounds.
My now-grown daughter, Allison, gave me a wonderful book for Christmas by Rainer Marie Rilke, a young poet writing at the turn of the last century. It is called Love Poems to God and is translated from the original German. Here is an excerpt from the collection that expresses with wrenching beauty the reciprocal loving relationship God invites us into:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.