September is just four days away. Soon, I will leave my early twenties behind and begin the trek toward 30. Is 30 old? My friends in their 30s aren’t old. But me? Why is it human nature to think ahead so much? I’m turning 25. My car insurance will get cheaper, renting cars will be easier, and Trinity will allow me to be a driving chaperone on youth events. These are good things. 25 is not 30. I just know how fast five years will go. There will be unspoken deadlines.
I’m in the phase where some people are still questioning whether I’m an adult and others are asking what I’m doing with my life like I should have it all mapped out. Some people still look at me and say, “you’re married? How old are you?” I usually get ID’d when I order a drink. When I chaperone high schoolers, I’m sometimes mistaken for one of them. But when I’m at the elementary school, I’m often asked if I’m one of the parents.
In my last post, I mentioned my defensiveness when someone asks what I do. If I hate anything more than that question, it is this one: Do you have kids? I always tell them not yet. Some leave it at that. Or there’s the dreaded follow-up. Are you trying? I never know how to answer that question. Like the career question, it is almost always well-intentioned. But I think it stems from a twisted viewpoint in our society. We believe everything is always in our control. We are expected to plan the events of our lives in great detail. Logically, we will do whatever it takes to make those plans work. That’s the responsible thing. Are you trying? Are you asking me if I have sex with my husband? Do you want me to explain my views on birth control and family planning? Do you want to know if I’m experiencing difficulty, if things aren’t working out the way I imagined them in my head?
Most people don’t want the long answer. They want a yes or no. I can’t give it to them. It’s not that simple. Do I enjoy this time of freedom and spontaneity? Yes. Do I worry that our life isn’t orderly enough to add a child yet? Yes. Do I want children? Yes. Do I see 30 as a looming deadline in the not-too-distant future? As a time when people will no longer ask if I’m trying? When they will wonder how I’m trying and suggest methods by which I might try harder? I do. I know plenty of women over 30 still having children. But there is a point when biology whispers, “It might be harder. It might be more dangerous.”
I can tell you that I don’t believe in planning. I can say I accept that God is in control and I am an obedient, patient follower. The world doesn’t understand that. The truth is, I struggle to understand it myself. I do have ideas in my head and dreams in my heart about how life should work. I don’t understand how to take risks and make decisions without an idea of what happens next. Sometimes I trust and sometimes I fear. I want what I want, but am I even sure what that is?
Most days I don’t even have time to think about it. I’m joining committees and boards. Going to meetings. Planning events. Scuba diving. Backpacking. Substitute teaching. Staying connected with friends. Getting a new dishwasher. Buying groceries and cooking dinner. Getting some sleep. Gardening. Volunteering. Going to church. Going to Bible study. Then someone asks a question, and everything stops. What do you do? Are you trying to have kids? Do you want this job? All of the busyness freezes. Time stands still as I step back to consider the question. My mind starts to swim with the big questions: Is this what I want to do with my life? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Am I over analyzing? Should I be more reflective? Is this the direction God is leading me? Have I even asked God lately? How do I understand when He answers me? Is this the still, small voice or just another tempting distraction? What happens next? I don’t know.
The latest thing on the docket is another job offer. I worked at the right to life office for a few weeks before deciding it wasn’t for me. Michael and I were immediately impacted by the change in schedule. The long commute wasn’t worth the hours and pay. Our time as a couple and my role as a homemaker suffered. Although I’m passionately pro-life, this wasn’t the way I was meant to contribute. They found a new secretary and I’m happy to still volunteer with them. Now Trinity needs a teacher’s aide, and my name came up. Again, it has the markings of being made for me. I want to teach. It’s part-time and possibly flexible. I already sub there. I love Trinity and Trinity loves me. The teacher I would be working with would probably be a great mentor for me…
On the one hand, I want to work and make some money while I can, before we have kids. On the other hand, I want to enjoy this unique freedom and flexibility while I can, before we have kids. Which is more important to us? The whole thought process betrays my stubborn assumption. Kids. I claim to have no plans, to be waiting on God’s plan. But I am still basing my every decision on what I think should happen next. I’m clinging to this thing. This thing I have not been promised.
Life has no guarantees, but how can we live without assuming things? There’s a quote that goes something like, “plan as if you’ll live forever but live as if there’s no tomorrow.” That’s cute and motivational and all, but how is it possible? Once again I’m frozen in limbo. Afraid to do anything and afraid to do nothing. Oh life, where are your instructions? Oh God, what is your will? Show me what to do.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34