I came to understand somewhat early in my life that it was meant to be lived in chapters. After all, the first couple decades of our lives are structured that way—elementary school, high school, hopefully college…and then we are able to launch into “real” life, right?
I remember my freshman year of college was the first time that I had to face “disrupting” a chapter and understand that…it was okay. I was attending a university that, while an incredibly crazy ball of fun, wasn’t really meeting my academic needs. I recall lying on my day bed in my dorm room thinking, “But you can’t change schools…you have too many sweatshirts from THIS college…” Thankfully, I heard my own pathetic reasoning and knew it was time to move on.
As life would have it, my moving back to Chicago and living in the city meant that a couple years later, when my dad would become terminally ill, I would be a short drive away from home. Funny how life plays out, isn’t it?
But even though I knew early on about my “life chapters,” I still thought that someday I would get “there”…wherever the hell that meant.
As I grow older, though, I see that there is no “there.” There is only “here for now” and wondering what my next right step should be. The wiser me smiles at the naïve me who thought that once things fell into place, I would then have some stability.
But there is no stability. At least not in worldly things.
I see this all around me. So many people I know are going through major transitions. Loss of jobs…divorces…health crises…family issues…home foreclosures…loss of loved ones…
And while there is great fear and anxiety over all of these changes and challenges, there is also grace, courage, and faith to be found, too.
For we can see our past and let it inform our present and future. We can strive to choose better, even though our hard fought wisdom reminds us we are not in control.
For me and my family, this current chapter is stretching us in ways that we never planned. Since my husband’s job loss last year, we are slapping fear in the face and working to chart our own course by launching his firm. Most days the fear slaps right back (and she has one helluva backhand), but we truly believe this is the next right thing for us.
It is anything but easy…yet the beauty comes from the rays of light that find their way to us through the darkness.
Working together with my husband to start this new chapter has helped us grow together in ways that were not there before he lost his job. From trusting one another and God that this is what we should do to cultivating a new rhythm to our days, we are stronger than we were before.
(Don’t get me wrong—there are days we want to kill each other. Thankfully the sharp tools are too hard to quickly get to on those days.)
Yes, in the struggles of so many, there is grace, courage, and faith…
…for those who are going through change and realizing that they have strength that they didn’t know they had, or those who are working hard to heal old wounds and grow past them, or those who are striving to create new lives in new places with all new faces…
I see the grit and grace, the courageous heart, the surrender to faith.
Our life chapters can often resemble the blacksmith working his iron…putting us in the fire until we are so white-hot we can then be shaped into our next chapter of purpose. And if we cool down and need a new purpose? Stick us in the fire again.
The hammering hurts like hell, but when we come through it, we are renewed (right?) and ready for our next task.
Yet even though I try hard to understand and find the meaning of life’s trials, I am really just a girl who is ready for a break from the hammering.
But I know better. I know there is more to come, and all I can do is use that understanding to do my best to prepare for whatever unknown chapter is on the horizon.
Here for now, wondering what’s next…bracing and hoping all the same.