Paperwork

Paperwork

Right around this time last week, 4 out of 5 people on my Facebook feed were posting and sharing this song. And rightfully so. It’s legit. Even I posted it. And I generally shun doing anything that everyone else is doing. I’d say I’m a rebel, but too many other people already have so… #itsdeadtome

Anyway, I had that song on repeat all day at work. And at one point, I was sitting there at my desk with tears in my eyes. Not because I was moved by the beauty of the song, but because everything about my life at that moment was so opposite to touching the sky. Far from soaring or dancing on the wings of anything, I was going through boxes and boxes and boxes of paperwork for one of the company heads. And if there is one thing that I hate, it’s paperwork. And the only thing worse than paperwork? Is somebody else’s paperwork. So I was miserable.

But there I was. And I realized that moment was basically a summary of most of my life. I have all these high hopes, dreams and beliefs and they are great and they are encouraging and they lift me, but most of my life? Honestly… it just looks like paperwork. It’s boring. It’s mundane. I don’t even know why most of it is happening. And it feels so far from everything I’d rather be doing.

But it’s happening. So it’s gotta mean something. Or be worth something. Or be building something in me that means something or is worth something. Right??

I certainly hope so. Because yesterday I had a moment. A friend of mine texted me with some great news. An awesome door is opening for her. A door that I pointed her towards. Which I don’t say to take any credit for, I only mention it to highlight how stilted my life sometimes seems. People are walking through new doors all around me and meanwhile, I feel like I’m forever outside and forever knocking. Forever filing paperwork. Forever given the jobs that no one else wants to do. Never asked to do what I want to do or what I’m good at… except… that’s not 100% true.

Because I am good at paperwork.

A few hours after shedding those workday tears, I was adding the printed labels to the stupid folders I had just spent all day organizing and filing. And I felt… pleased. Proud even. I would never have asked for that task, but I finished it. And I finished it well. And when looked at in the right light, that’s actually a good sign for my future, even if it looks like it’s going nowhere fast.

I think back to the parable of the talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30), the short version is that three servants are given a certain amount of things to handle for their boss – one gets 5, one gets 2 and one gets 1. The boss goes away and then comes back at some point and has a debrief with each of them. The first two servants doubled what they were given, but the third servant has nothing more to show for the time that has passed. So the boss gives the first two more and but takes the little from the last servant. Whomp whomp. Anyway, because of the use of the word “talents” it’s really easy to romanticize this story and imagine that each of the servants was given something good or that they liked to start with. But what if it was all just paperwork and filing?

What if it was all something  that they could do (obviously), but wouldn’t typically choose to do? What if there were other things they would have much rather been given?  It makes it a lot easier to understand why that last servant flamed out so spectacularly. And how easy it would be for me to do the same. To look at what I’ve been given and do just enough to maintain it, but invest nothing of myself and add nothing to it. Saving all my energy for when the door to something I really want to do opens. When what I should be doing is using what’s being given to me now to build up my stamina, strength and resolve for whatever is on the other side.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.”

So note to self: Whatever you have now – whatever time, whatever relationships, whatever tasks, whatever paperwork – even if it’s nothing you would have chosen, it’s something you’ve been given.  Not to keep you from what you really want, but to build and strengthen you for something more. 

So play that song a million times more and cry if you need to, but don’t stop filing. Get that paperwork done.

The Odds

The Odds

Truth telling time: I’m tired. And kind of losing hope.

And not even really about being single. That is what it is. I’ve tried everything I can and everything everyone has suggested and nothing has “worked”, so it’s cool. I’m cool. It’s not on me. But writing… that is on me. And where I go with it, I feel that’s on me too. And I’ve got all these impossible dreams that keep creeping closer and closer to the realm of possibility. And it’s freaking me out.

My entire life feels like it’s heading in the direction of too much for me. And the more I find myself believing in the impossible, the more I find myself losing hope in me.

And I’m pretty sure that’s right where God wants me.

I’ve been reading the story of Gideon lately. It’s in Judges 7 and the superfast version is that God called him to lead an army into battle. He started with an army of 32,000, God said “Nope. Too many.” and cut it down to 10,000. Then God said that was still too many and took that number down to 300, and then sent that 300 up against an army of 135,000 (Judges 8:10). And the 300 won. The odds were 450 to 1. And the 300 won. Which is amazing. And crazy. And miraculous.

But here’s the thing: a victorious outcome in that battle was always going to be a miracle because the odds were always against Gideon. That original army of 32,000? The odds were still 4 to 1 against Gideon. But 4 to 1 just feels more plausible, doesn’t it? When it came time for the pre-battle pep talk, Gideon may have been sweating a little, but he could convincingly say “It won’t be easy, but we can do this.”

But a pep talk to that army of 300? Where each one of them would be personally responsible for taking down four hundred and fifty soldiers?  I think it would have sounded much less convincing but much more sure. Sure that they were going into the fray and sure that they only way they were going to make it through was by the grace of God.

So I don’t know where you are in your battle plans, but if the odds don’t feel like 450 to 1 yet, just wait for it. Because if you’re sweating, but still feel like you can plausibly accomplish what you’ve set out to do, then there’s probably still more to it.

But if you, like me, feel like the odds weren’t great before, but are absolutely impossible now — congrats. You’re right. And also right? Those fears that you can’t do it and can’t handle it and can’t make it. Because you can’t. But you will. You totally will. By the grace of God.

So brace yourself. And may the odds be never in your favor.

Mom-ish

There were three things I wanted to be when I was a kid. Well, two that I thought I wanted to be and one that I knew for sure. I thought I wanted to be a singer and a veterinarian. And I knew I wanted to be a mom. For as long as I can remember, those things were pretty set in my mind. So fast forward a hundred years and I am currently zero out of three. The veterinarian dream killed itself during a particularly boring day of high school biology, the singer dream occasionally comes to life, but is resting quietly at the moment. But the mom dream… that’s the one that cuts me. Because that has always been the number one dream. If I had ever been told that I could only have one, there would have been no hesitation, no question that motherhood is what I would have chosen.

But the chance to make that choice never materialized, so… here I am.  And a little while ago I talked about the evening when I was faced with the horrific prospect of my teen-mom cousin becoming a grandmother before I was a mother. I was on my way to Connect Group that night, but had to take a few minutes to cry in public and grapple with my faith and the feeling of being cheated. And then I pulled myself together and continued on my way. But the story didn’t end there. Due to the aforementioned crying and grappling, I was a few minutes late to connect group, so a few of the girls had arrived before me and when I walked in that night, one of the girls looked at me and announced “Mom’s here!” and for the next few moments everyone greeted me with “Hi Mom!” and as I was hugging and smiling on the outside, on the inside I was telling God “Oh hell no. This is NOT what I want.” Because it wasn’t.

I can imagine the darkest timeline, the one where I never have children and I can see how it could totally happen, but if it does… I will feel cheated. And that’s real. So in that moment, it felt like God was trying to trick me into accepting a consolation prize.  Like He’s been trying to trick me for years. Because people have been calling me “Mom” for years. And it’s never bothered me, I’ve never taken it as a bad thing, if anything, I’ve taken it as a compliment. But that night was the first time I completely rejected it on the inside. I felt like, If you’re not going to give me this the way I want it, then I’m not going to walk in it at all. So I didn’t say anything to anyone else, but I said to myself (and God), “No. I will not be the mom here.”

But no one knew any of that was going on. And it was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to move our bible study to a nearby park. We set ourselves up at one of the bench tables and everything was fine. At first. But New York is a funny place. It is full of characters and even though we’re all brushing up against each other all the time, we still keep our distance for the most part. So when worlds do collide, it’s always memorable. And on this night, our world collided with a cray-cray lady in the park. We had been chatting for a few minutes when she deliberately wandered over with her dog and asked if she could join us.  And these are the moments when being a Christian is tough. When you can pretty quickly tell that someone is not all there, but when you ask yourself “WWJD?” you’re pretty sure the answer is not Chase her and her dog away with a stick. So you say “Yes, of course — please join us.” So she sat down with us.

And the next ten minutes were spent trying to keep her, her mystical mumbo-jumbo stories and her general off-ness from dominating the conversation. At one point I remember snapping my fingers at her and saying “Look at me, you can stay, but you have to be quiet and listen. Do you understand?” (Which is not at all something a mom would say.)  And she did settle down a teeny-tiny bit, but after a few more minutes it was clear that she was too disruptive. And that somebody needed to do something about it.  But I didn’t want to. Because I was not trying to lose this particular battle of wills with God.  So I tried to hold out, but she was making everyone too uncomfortable and I loved those girls too much to let it continue. So I took back the mom mantle and took one for the team. I took our new friend aside so she could tell me everything she wanted to say and my connect group could continue safely and sanely.

And I don’t remember anything that lady told me, I know there was a lot of crying and hugging and zero reading of social cues, but it didn’t matter, she was mostly harmless and I was busy accepting my fate. If this is the kind of mom I am right now, so be it. It’s not enough forever. But it’s what I have for now.

So I started making peace with the idea of being that kind of mom, instead of rejecting it out of that old suspicion that my acceptance of it would encourage God to withhold what I really wanted.

And what I didn’t know that day was that almost exactly a month later, I would be starting this blog. And even though I started it with total focus on single women age 27+, over the past few months, I’ve recognized more and more the importance of speaking honestly about this walk, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the women right behind us.  To hopefully spare them some of the mistakes and better prepare them for the challenges. And to not pass on the same fears and hindrances that have stumbled so many of us.  And to ease the way and open as many doors as possible. And even I have to admit, that sounds pretty Mom-ish.

So if I never have children and I someday say “It’s okay, I don’t even mind anymore.” I want you to know that I’ll be lying. 100%… 103%. But I’m not going to let the fear of that make me hold back now. So to those of you who do let me “mom” you on occasion, thank you. It’s good practice. (And sometimes a helpful deterrent). And to the women like me who are still waiting for “the real thing,” for whatever reason, don’t lose heart. And don’t give up hope. That’s not what a mom does.