When my mom read my previous blog, she made the comment that in a couple decades my friends and I will all be going through identity crisis again. Once the kids have flown the coop. I immediately began daydreaming about all the things Greg and I would do once we had the resource of time to ourselves. Somewhere in between an Italian vacation and opening an orphanage, she interrupted my thought flow by saying that that's not something for me to be worried about right now. She gets it. My mom knows that what I'm learning in life right now is enough.
Unfortunately for those around me, I don't always get it. I sometimes forget that what God is teaching me is for me. I tend to apply my lessons to the rest of humanity at large. If God is growing something in me, then He must have a message for me to shout loud and clear to the rest of the world. What? Not everyone is a 30-year-old-stay-at-home-lactating-mom-of-two-who-is-trying-to-save-money-and-lose-weight? Huh.
The thing is that I get overwhelmingly annoyed by unsolicited advice. We've all heard it. Marriage is the hardest work the first year. The seventh year. I'd give anything to be your age again. Kids are emotionally secure if you allow them to sleep in bed with you. Kids are emotionally secure if you do not allow them to sleep in bed with you. Private schools are superior. You will not be able to keep your house clean when you have two children. And, of course, the birthing stories. Love those.
There are times that call for, or beg for, our story. There are moments when our story can bring healing to others. I can recall many days where a loved one shared thier journey with me, and it had me looking at life and God and and myself in a new light. I have shared parts of my story with others, knowing that God allowed me to trudge through some things for moments such as those. I have watched friends walk through unspeakable tragedies, only to turn around and walk back through them with someone else. That is wisdom. That is love.
I think of my dear friend Summer. By the time I had Madeline, she already was an experienced mom of three. I, in all my type-A-ness, with my diaper bag packed like a red-cross station, with my 25 phone calls to the doctor a day, with my super-extended conversations about nap schedules, must have been so annoying to her. Everything with Maddie was a huge deal. Summer just listened to me, prayed with me, offered invaluable advice, and walked alongside me as a new mom. She was out of that phase of newness, but still chose to double back and walk through it with me again. She was priceless to me. Still is.
What if we wear our lessons, experiences and wisdom as garments of praise instead of rites of passage? What if we view them as an opportunity to turn around, and walk back through them with those who need us to? What if we try to remember what it was like for us? To be young and in love? To lose our first tooth? To have our first child? To not have a date to prom?
I would seriously fall over if someone with adult children said, "I remember what it's like to be a young mother. Why don't I come over and watch your kids for a couple hours, so you can do something lifegiving?" Instead I usually get a passing "Appreciate this time. They grow so fast." Instead of telling a college student that they are living in thier glory days, I should be inviting them over to my home for the family dinner they so desparately need. Rather than feeling so "beyond" phases that my loved ones are walking through, I should be doubling back and walking back through with them. Closing my mouth. Holding thier hands.
Sometimes, when I pray, I imagine how many times God has heard similar prayers. It's overwhelming to think about how many prayers rise to the ears of our God...prayers about love, life, and life lost. He does not tire of hearing our stories. There is nothing that I have walked through that God has yet to see, or that is bigger and stronger than Him. But God doesn't pelt me with advice. He doesn't patch up my requests with simple antidotes. He walks back through with me. Illuminating the way. Allowing me to pick up the treasures He's laid for me. Watching me grow as I stumble along the way, like a proud parent. Holding my hand. So patient is my God.
"Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn."