In July I will have been alive 33 years, a Christian for 12 years and married to my wonderful husband for 11. We will have volunteered at our church in various capacities for 10 years. We will have been parents for eight and a half years, and home owners for eight. I, with my husbands support, will have been a business owner off and on for four.
That, in a very concise nutshell, is our life. When looked at in black and white it really isn't much, is it? It's easy to see the things that haven't been done. I didn't get a college degree or start a career. My business wasn't successful. I have never quite gotten a handle of what I want to do with my life. It would be easy to consider all this and feel deflated. Honestly there are moments when I do look at my life and and ask God if I should be doing something else, something more.
We all have those moments, don't we? Those moments when discontent creeps into our hearts and threatens to dismantle the lives we have built for ourselves. Sometimes a little (or a lot) of dismantling is needed to rebuild our small lives into bigger, better ones, but sometimes our small life is exactly what it is supposed to be. The trick is knowing when to dismantle and when to settle in, isn't it?
In the last year and half God has been teaching my husband, Aaron and I a number of lessons in contentment and embracing the life He has given us. One day, after a particularly challenging day at work Aaron called me from work to tell me that he had had a wonderful time of prayer about his job and where it was taking him. It was a job he enjoyed, but it was frequently frustrating, sometimes to the point that he wasn't sure he wanted to work there any more. He was calling me to say that even though there were lots of reasons to be unhappy about his job, he had been praying and felt a sense of peace and contentment about it. From that point on he declared he was going to choose to be thankful for and content in the job he had.
The next day he called me to tell me he had been let go, laid off.
I thought it was a joke and laughed out loud. Aaron assured me it was not a joke; the tightness I could hear in his voice confirmed it. My heart dropped to my stomach. Just yesterday he was saying how he felt a sense of peace and contentment, this couldn't be right? While it was nothing he did, his boss assured him, the office Aaron worked for was going in a different direction. They wouldn't be needing his position any longer. They would give him time to find a new job and could phase out his current duties over a period of weeks or months, if necessary.
This was one of those moments where my college degree or a career would have been rather handy.
While there was definitely some comfort in knowing losing his job wasn't effective immediately, it was always in the back of our minds that at some point the job would be permanently phased out and we couldn't really be sure when that would be. For eleven months my husband looked for a new job. He went on dozens of interviews for jobs that would have made significantly more money, required more time at the office, more travel or even a move. Several of the "best" jobs, he was one of two people considered. With each job he was second runner up. First loser, he joked after the third or fourth time. That was funny.
Except it wasn't. There is nothing more frustrating than being passed over for jobs you know you can do, and do well, over and over and over again. I know we aren't alone in the experience. There were many sleepless nights from worry. Eventually, Aaron found a job for less money in an agency he wasn't particularly excited about. I don't mean that to say it's not a good job, or great even, just that it wasn't what my husband wanted for himself. It wasn't where he had spent the last twelve years building a career. He had been doing his dream job, this new job just wasn't it. He took the job, and has been grateful for the opportunity.
It is no accident that this journey started with a declaration of contentment, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that the journey ends with one. Where we saw an opportunity to "better" our lives financially and career-wise, God saw as an opportunity to affirm that we are right where we should be.
We may have a small life in black and white, but in reading between the lines there is so much more. Our little starter house in our "not-so-great" neighbourhood is actually placed on a street with really great neighbours. In the last few months there have been increased opportunity for us to get to know and connect with them in ways that we haven't been able to before. The neighbourhood kids congregate here in packs that drive me half crazy, but they are here because they want to play with our kids. I have been given a great group of first-seventh grade girls to lead in a Girl Scout troop. We are plugged in at a great church where people know
Our life is good. God is good. There is so much to be thankful for in this small life, and so much more room to grow.