I really love that phrase “season of life.” It says “hey, don’t worry. This too shall pass, will fade away, will one day end.” And at the same time is juxtaposed with the idea of new life, new growth, and my favorite, new adventure.
Just like the weather in Georgia in the month of October, right now I’m in several seasons all at one.
I’m in a new season with a career that I’m loving, learning, and growing.
I’m in a season of marriage where Jason and I have this balance of independence and partnership.
I’m in a season of waiting (the utter worst!) praying through my reactionary “I-need-to-be-doing” reflexes versus God’s perfect will and timing.
But unfortunately, I’m also in a season of avoidance.
Not only am I avoiding action (as much as I feel called to do). I’m avoiding community.
I’m avoiding more fertility treatments because I’m terrified of the same outcome. (I think one miscarriage a year is my emotional limit.)
I’m avoiding close community because I feel so incredibly out of touch with everyone else’s “season of life” that I have nothing to contribute.
For an extravert, this is so incredibly hard. I want to see people. Have conversation. Laugh. Tell stories. Share hearts. But the insecurity within urges me to hold my tongue, avoid these encounters, keep to myself. Better to be safely tucked away than vulnerable and heartbroken. Better to be at home than with those who don’t and can’t relate.
Yet, there are some people who, with a single text, can shout over that insecure little voice which compels me out from under my comfort blanket of avoidance. A few Saturdays past, my home was filled with seven of those “some people” that I just couldn’t say no to regardless of our fifteen-year gap in life seasons.
What began as a good idea, and a “yeah, just pick a date,” turned into a production toward perfectionism. There I was, the Natalie of old, hustling around making sure my seven special guests would receive the unforgettable night they deserved.
Yes, these last two years have been exceptionally difficult. But when I share my faith with people or when I just internally reflect, I am truly and profoundly grateful for this journey. No, really. Loss has stung and honestly continues to sting but God has opened my eyes and my heart to his Word in a way that I don’t think could have occurred without that pain. The Holy Spirit who once walked alongside me (Greek word para) now is upon me (epi) in such a real way that I can’t sit alone in that holy space without a physical reaction of tears. Even now, those warm cascading drops fall, not out of pain, or sorrow, but out of presence.
My God is so very real.
My God is so very near.
But I must be a slow learner because even though I know these truths, I continue to fall back in that familiar pattern of mixing elbow grease with control.
The morning of my mini dinner party, I took a short and really slow run while the sun was just beginning to dawn. You all know, I have this thing with skylines. With sunsets. With first light. If I get up early enough (which I usually do) and if I can convince myself to lace up (which is exceedingly harder), this is the moment I yearn for. I need to see that first light. I need to feel that warmth on my face. I need to pause and feel the presence of God.
A cup of coffee and a little convincing later, I was paused in a dead halt on the side of a Banks County country road watching the sun break through the fog over a pasture. The cows were timidly grazing. The fog was meekly hovering. And my Spotify praise list was familiarly shuffling. The voices of praise from Lauren Daigle, Hillary Scott, and Hillsong United lolled about.
For my runner friends, I know what you’re thinking. “How in the world can you run to that?” The answer is, ridiculously slow. But it didn’t matter if those miles took me forty minutes or two hours, I wasn’t in a race (nor will I ever be!). After a few moments in that space, in that warmth, I picked up my feet and continue my jog, shuffle, whatever you want to call it, all the while praying to God for my guests that would arrive later that night. I didn’t know what they wanted or what they needed, but whatever the case, God please provide it. Allow my home to be a safe space to open hearts and share stories. Thank you, Father that these ladies wanted to spend time with me. Allow my dinner to be an honor reciprocal of the gift of their time.
After my morning run and the pace of the day set in, time quickly hastened. It was mid-afternoon and I had yet to begin my over-zealous menu (vegan as requested. Pinterest for the win!). With a desperate plea to Jason, he joined me in the kitchen while I rushed from cabinet to cabinet mumbling doubts of defeat while he patiently washed and dried my stack of piling pans by hand. At fifteen till six, I literally choked back tears and insecurities, cursing myself for being left open to failure.
What if my dinner was a flop?
What if these ladies were disappointed in me?
What if the dinner, the conversation, the expectations were met with awkward silence and regret?
Noticing they would arrive literally any minute, I raced up the back stairs to change. Having turned the corner to stand in my closet and contemplate what I could fit in to, I mean, wear. The doorbell rang. Jason called, “Do you want me to answer it?” “No!” was all I could yell with a lump in my throat. Grabbing the first top in sight, I slid it over, picked up a bobby pin for my bangs and with sweet running down my back, opened the front door to two glorious smiling faces.
As I greeted and hugged my precious former students, now stunning high school seniors, I apologized for my raggedness and welcomed them into my home. Having thrown my perfect host game down the garbage disposal (along with one casserole that wouldn’t make the table), I began showing them around. My office was piled with yearbooks. My open kitchen with Jason still scrubbing away at the sink. My large and blessed home, typically empty, was as ready as it could be to serve the young guests.
With finishing touches here and there, the other five girls arrived while Jason discretely snuck out of the house for the night. I set the first two to showing the other five around while I set the table and ask God for his blessing on this night.
I had the dining room all shut up hoping at least my table wear would be enough of a distraction to my uncertain menu (why, oh why do I always try new recipes with guests?! Someone stop me next time!). I gathered the seven beauties around my dining room French doors and just like Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, I swung them open and invited them all to “be my guest.”
At the sound of their gasping and iPhones capturing SnapChat stories, I knew the night would be okay. They had me sit at the head of the table and allowed me to pray with them, for the, over them. And in the moment of that prayer, God convicted me; “Stop doing. Focus on being.”
We all said “Amen,” and for a moment, I wondered if they had heard Him too.
In a matter of moments my dining room was filled with the fluttering of conversation, the passing of casseroles, tossed salad, and bread knots. The room echoed with the clinking of glasses of apple cider and the pinging of forks on Great Aunt Ruth’s china.
The conversation wasn’t heavy. No grand revelations. No problems of the world solved. Just fellowship. No one cared my hair was flat. No one noticed the stains on my shirt, or the fact one casserole was MIA. Instead they talked. They laughed. They shared stories of the past months I had missed. They invited me into their lives as I had been the last three years.
From dinner, to dessert, to lounging on the sectional, and of course photo ops on the front staircase, our three hours flew by in an instant. The eight of us are separated by a decade and a half of life. Thirty-three compared to eighteen seems like a Grand Canyon of a “season.” But the truth is, we are no different. We are all in a season of waiting. Them, waiting on the right boyfriend. The right college. The right path. I, waiting on the right treatment. The right doctor. The right timing. And peace.
I saw so much of myself in their reflection. These seven young ladies are all doers as well. Top of their class. Completely involved. Influential. Dedicated. Focused. Loyal.
I wish in those final moments together I would have found the courage and voice to have spoken the truth. Truths that have taken me thirty-three years to learn.
Truths, I'm still learning. Often times, the hard way.
Perfectionism is not the way to combat a season of waiting.
Doing is not more important than being.
Applause is not more important than silence.
Success is not more important than worth.
But, faith is more important than control.
Presence is more important than perfection
(thank you Shauna Niequist for that phrase and that book!)
But like I said, I’m so lucky these past two years have invited the Holy Spirit to be upon me.
I’m so lucky these young ladies desire fellowship, friendship, and mentorship from me.
I’m so excited they are choosing to come back again in a few weeks to dine with me.
The next morning as I washed Aunt Ruth’s china in the dawning light of my kitchen, I reflected upon the night with a smile on my face. God once again whispered to me.
“I’m here. Stop running. Stop doing. I am the one who will lead you of this season.
Just be still.”
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation