During all my years of soldiering — of butt-kicking and name-taking — I was in constant motion, often simultaneously cooking, doing laundry, answering email, talking on the phone, and granting or denying permission to one of my children. I got a lot done. It seems that I was able to keep a clean house, feed a family, teach hundreds of students, and arrive most places fully-clothed for quite a few years. The down side? Very little time to reflect — very little time to examine options, consider outcomes, or feel.
I’m making up for lost time. Obviously.
In days of yore (Why, sonny, when I was your age…), I looked at the myriad obligations of the members of my family, the limited functions of two vehicles, and the tight schedules my husband and I kept, and I quickly formulated and executed a plan that accommodated everyone. I planned my work and worked my plan. “Here’s what’s happening today,” I would say, “You two will come with me to school. After school, while you are at practice, I will get groceries. I’ll be back to pick you up. When we get home, you’ll unload and put away groceries while I cook dinner. Meanwhile, Dad will take you (other child) to your different school. He’ll go to work then pick you up after your practice, stop by Walgreens to fill your prescription, then meet us back here. We will eat at exactly 5:30 because then, Dad has a meeting, I have parent-teacher conferences, two of you have homework to do, and the third one has to be at a study session on the other side of town.” I would hit the start button and the plan would be executed.
Nowhere was there time for contemplation, negotiation, or revision. We were in “go” mode. In some ways, it was necessary for the season of life we were in with three kids in high school all at the same time, however, I think it could’ve been handled differently. I think I could’ve let some stuff go. I could’ve slowed down, allowed the kids to eat cereal for dinner more often, and let my laundry pile up. I could’ve valued processing over producing. Contemplating over completing.
So, yeah, I’m making up for lost time.
I’m currently reading three books. One is a book I am reading with my Bible study gals, Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way. Another was given to me by my physical therapist/counselor/friend, Doing Well at Being Sick by Wendy Wallace. I also picked up Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s interesting to me that I have time to read three books, for one thing. Also, I notice that I am interacting with these books, writing notes in the margins, going back to my notes, and thinking about what the books are saying to me. And, third, I am intrigued by the fact that these three books are speaking to each other. It’s like they are three friends that said to one another, “Hey, guys, Kristin’s been still for quite a while now. She might finally be able to hear us.”
And what are they saying? Well, it’s not really shocking, because they are saying the same things that I have been discovering, thinking, speaking, and writing about for the past three and a half years. However, I think what’s interesting is that I am noticing. I am processing. I am digesting. I am not more interested in completing these books than I am in connecting with them. I am not compelled to finish them; I am drawn to understand the meaning they have for me.
And really, the meaning is this — my soldiering is done. Even though I’m tempted almost every day to go back to that life, I am no longer capable. God, in His mercy, has chosen a better way for me. He has allowed limitations in my life — real physical limitations — that stop me from soldiering so that I can live a life that reflects, that feels, and that makes space for others. Because on my own, I wouldn’t have stopped soldiering, guys. I would’ve keep right on kicking butts and taking names. God had something better for me. Yes, you heard me right. My “broken” life, my life with the limitations of chronic illness, is a higher quality life than my “un-broken” life. In fact, my “broken” life is more whole than the “unbroken” one was.
It’s a paradox, to be sure. God is often paradoxical, isn’t He? His brokenness makes us whole. By His wounds we are healed. He turns our mourning into dancing. He doesn’t always make sense, but today I’m not going to question Him. I’ll just thank Him.
I Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”