Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some End-of-Decade Thoughts

My in-laws flew out earlier today. Nate left for work a few minutes ago. (Night shift on New Year's Eve. Good trade for having Christmas and Thanksgiving off!) The kids are doing Wii Fit downstairs. And I'm sitting here reflecting on the last decade. Actually, I've been doing that most of the day. Actually, it started on Sunday when Nate and I got away overnight to Denver and things were quiet and I could for a few rare moments hear my thoughts.

(I kept getting up and going to the pantry just now to get "a few more" chocolate covered pomegranates my amazing hubby brought me just before Christmas. I finally brought the whole bag over to the computer and it's sitting open beside me, right next to a full cup of my super yummy coffee.)

Ten years ago right now I was sitting with Nate in our beyond miniscule basement duplex.
The one with the windows right up next to the ceiling that if you looked out you saw people's feet walking by on the sidewalk and the roots of trees.
The one with the orange shag carpet and brown paneling.
The one with no dishwasher and the fridge that smelled like rotten meat.
The one we were so blessed to have because it accepted our dog, Tucker (may he rest in peace), and had a fenced backyard for the kids to roam around.
The one below Bev & Kern, who became dear friends and wonderful mentors for this young, pretty-newly-married couple.

Taylor was three.
Jordan was one.
We weren't quite trying for Brit yet.
And we had just moved to Great Falls, Montana from Vandenberg AFB, California.
We were waiting and watching with the rest of the world to see any Y2K fall-out.

I was skinny as all get out, my hair was long and brown and straight, and we were absolutely broke.

Reflecting back on the time from then until now, I realize that God has done some amazing things in me. It was a short time after the New Year a decade ago I cried out, feeling desperate and like I had no options. I asked Him to change me... and it's a thrilling feeling to realize that He did. Not overnight. Not right away. But, He molded and shaped me through not-always-easy circumstances to be the woman I was asking Him to make me... to have the marriage I wanted to have... to be the mother I was hoping to be.

I'm still a work in progress. We all are. But, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

This morning on the way to the airport, with all four kids and my in-laws in the Suburban, I asked everyone what the highlight of their decade was. Seeing as how only two of our children have lived outside of this decade ("We're gonna party like it's 1999..."), that question would encompass their entire life.  =^)

But, I've really been thinking about this for me. And, I keep marveling at the answer I come back to.

Do you know what my highlights are of the last decade? Do you know which things keep coming back to me as the best experiences?

(You can't count childbirth or Disneyland trips. Those are givens.)

The highlights are the things that were hardest to walk through. The highlights of the last decade are the experiences that weren't flashes in the pan, but were segments in my path full of tears and frustration and joy and excitement and faith and conquering and learning and persevering and grace.

The highlights weren't the easy things.

The best and most rewarding experiences in the last decade were the hard things.
The good-but-hard things.


doesn't that kind of defy the general assumption of life pursuits?

It would seem that life isn't meant to be easy...
 that it's meant to be full and rewarding and good...
and a truly good life doesn't come from an "easy life"...
and that maybe those who are pursuing the "easy life" may not truly have a good one.

I think the biggest highlight of this past decade for me encompasses the entire range of emotions.
Dealing with ups and downs and surprises and disappointments.
Crying tears numerous nights.
Laughing silly with delight.
Seeing amazing works that God did in other people... and even more so in me.
Learning what being a leader meant, and that it's much more about behind-the-scenes than in-the-spotlight, and that I can do what I never thought I could.
Learning to bend when necessary and stand firm when necessary and apologize when necessary. Learning that it's okay to fail, as long as I get up and keep going.
Learning to submit to authority even when you don't see eye-to-eye... and seeing God take care of it all in His timing.
Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's leading above all else. 
And learning that God has purpose for the dream He has placed in my heart, and that it is better in His hands than in my own... and that way more than I thought possible comes from my passions in his hands than would come from anything I would ever try to do on my own.

And it was good... and it was hard work... and it required much... but it was good.
And I'm so thankful.

What are YOUR highlights of the last decade? Really think about it. Your experiences. What was the most rewarding? What did you gain the most from?

I bet it wasn't what was easiest.

My perspective has changed so much. Because it's not an easy life I'm after... not a safe life, either. But a full life... a good life... a rewarding life.
It's not about choosing what's easiest... it's about choosing what's best.
It's not about avoiding hard things... hard work... it's about choosing wisely what you put your hands to, and then doing that to the best of your ability and learning as much as you can.

It's about walking the path God has laid out for you and embracing life head on.

(Rob and Cindy, thank you. I love you.)
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amber said...

shoot! gotta go get tissue!