So, because I am goal-oriented, I have duped my entire family into a fun run on Thanksgiving morning. I’ve never done the Turkey Trot, but it is a crowd-pleaser, offering a timed five mile run (which will accommodate my road racing sister-in-law), an untimed variety (that would be for me) and a one mile walk (which will suit the parents and my strolling son just fine). Five weeks out and I have still not run an entire five consecutive miles, but the idea is to add one more minute each time I run until the big date. I haven’t run this far since I was 20! I think I can do it, or at least I can give it a shot, but one thing’s for sure, I won’t be a chicken on Turkey Day!
And then one day you are swimming laps and it hits you: I’m back in shape. This happened to me yesterday afternoon. After six months of interrupted sleep and exercising only to have some outlet outside of the house, my body is finally back in a groove and it feels amazing. And somehow I feel like I am in the best shape of my life because I am pushing myself and using my body for reasons not crazy. Never before have I pushed my body hard for anything beyond thinness. But as I swam yesterday and ran the day before, I thought back to the challenges of birth, and was simply amazed at what my body can actually do when I push it. I welcome these unexpected reminders that I am indeed alive. And lately I’ve been reminded of how short this life really is.
This fall has been brushing The Fall. One of my dear friends unexpectedly drowned, leaving behind two daughters and a husband who have few answers. I mentor the older daughter and find my wise words to be few. An unfaithful former co-worker now has an ex-wife. Another couple I know of lost their son minutes after he was born. And one of my oldest, best friends had a successful home birth, only to find herself and her husband at Dell Children’s Hospital days later, pacing the hallways as their sedated, newborn son breathed with a tube down his throat, awaiting surgery for a heart defect. In short, I cannot escape the trauma of this life.
But traumatic experiences aren’t a corner. And I cannot escape how Job blessed the Name of the Lord when He gave and took. And then this morning I realized that none of these things is big enough to throw God’s plan off course. He allowed it. He allows it. And He will use it.
When I hide and refuse to bless His Glorious Name when He has taken, I’m not living. The Enemy has won over by keeping me from communing with my Creator. And I get spiritually flabby. I need holy oxygen running through my veins. My default is despair, but that’s just like avoiding my running shoes. I want and need to be in-shape in season and out, both physically and spiritually, because this life is training ground. And I want to win this race. So, just like when I want to stop running around 3 miles, I have to press on when life gets hard. And it’s hard right now.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Today, Ann Voskamp reminded me that “simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.” I’ve been second-guessing myself lately –stepping back and wondering if maybe I take everything too seriously. Fundamentally, I know that there is nothing wrong with shopping or Facebook or Pinterest or TV. That truth has been hanging out on my shoulder all week, begging me to throw this experiment out the window. I have prayed for God to show me His Heart in all of this.
I was encouraged yesterday when I read C.S. Lewis’ proposition:
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.”
I imagine the opposite to be true, too, which makes me want to starve out what leads to death. But I’d forgotten the key to all of this, the key that unlocks our lives from rigid, heartless living. Only with thanks can we keep the focus simple. And so I go back, with thanks and praise, to the feet of My Redeemer. Because, ultimately, this experiment of life doesn’t come down to deprivation, but Eucharisteo.
I am learning about my purpose as the wife of Spencer and the mother of that little blue-eyed wonder. If I am honest, I will tell you that I want a nanny, a housekeeper and a cook, mostly so I can go shopping all day. Of course, every few days I would then need to relieve that out-and-about stress with a relaxing day at the spa. In short, I don’t want to do any dirty work –or, if I’m honest, any work at all.
I imagine the extremely wealthy never have to change a dirty diaper in their lives. I want the clean, adorably smocked child without ever seeing the nasty buggers, dirt-compacted fingernails or blowout diapers. But I’m searching Scripture for this description of a wife and mother and I’m coming up empty. So, what does God ask of me? I know His commandments are tender and for my own good, so I’m wading through Proverbs 31 and Titus 2:4-5. And I cannot escape the conviction that I want to do better than just unloading and loading the dishwasher and keeping the laundry reasonably at bay.
So, last night, I went all in. I lit the candles on our dining room table and prepared a delicious meal for my fella. He’d gone into work at an outrageously early hour and didn’t return home until our little guy was already tucked away. It was almost dark when he walked through the door and I let him find me and our romantic dinner on his own. My iPad was propped in the corner playing some awful 90’s cheese – but, hey, we are from the 90’s!
He sat down at the head of the table and then I did the unthinkable. I’d just read a sort of to-do-list for housewives from back in 1950’s, written for a public school Home Economics class. It was so patriarchal, even Mrs. Brady would’ve puked. Among the many old-fashioned recommendations for a wife, one was to remove your husband’s shoes after a long, hard day at the office.
As we sunk in to our dining room chairs, I looked down and noticed that Spencer’s boots were still on. And ignoring everything I have been taught about my rights as a woman, I kneeled down and removed them. And then his socks. And then I rubbed his tired, clammy feet.
I did not feel degraded, only honored to love my husband in such an unexpected way.
We went on to enjoy our dinner and then – thanks, Dave Matthews Band – we slow danced in our seldom-used dining room. It was priceless. And then somehow I cleaned up after us, all the while singing. How is this possible? I hate doing the dishes. And cooking. And eating dinner at 8pm. But this was possibly our sweetest date of all time.
In short, my interest is piqued. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in equal rights and I detest global oppression of women, but what about serving my husband. Maybe that isn’t such a drag after all. Could it even be that I was created to be his helper? If so, what does that even mean? One thing it means for sure is that I am CEO of this home, so I’m going to start acting like it!