… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
With the increased hours at home, I had anticipated more hours writing, but I should know by now that I can anticipate all I want, but the Lord usually has other plans. Or at the very least, He tweaks mine. And I’ve earned that that’s a good thing!
With all the adjustments people have been making regarding “social distancing,” my husband Marty’s lifestyle has changed very little. My beloved architect is immersed in his latest D.Y.I. project – replacing our old eye-sore book shelves with his own handiwork, a beautiful pair of book cases, complete with sliding glass doors.
These shelves are, in fact, far too nice now to hold mere books. Most of our books aren’t all that attractive, – worn out paperbacks, beat up hardbacks, and chewed-up children’s books collected over the past three generations. Hence, the project I no longer had any excuse to put off was to haul several large boxes of books, photos, and “miscellaneous” down to the basement, sort through them, and arrange all the ones we wanted in some kind of orderly fashion on the cubicle shelves. The items we didn’t want were set aside to give to our children and grandchildren or donate to the library or Good Will.
I expected this to be a relatively quick job; I’d just have to decide which ones to keep and which ones I’d give away, and place them on shelves or in boxes accordingly.
But anything involving the printed word or old photos can get me bogged down for hours, if not days.
Phase One: Curiosity
Do I want to keep this book? Hmm … I remember buying it, but I don’t think I ever got around to reading it … It does look good … I’ve heard good things about this author … Let’s check out the table of contents … That chapter looks fascinating! I wonder what he says about that … hmmm, I don’t get what he’s talking about. Must be referring to something in an earlier chapter…
[Twenty minutes later] OKAY, ANN, DECIDE! DO I WANT THIS BOOK OR NOT?
… Naaa …
Old college term papers were even worse. I had forgotten about them, but upon finding them I remembered how hard I had worked on them, all the research I had done, and how passionate I was about some of the subjects, how persuasively I wrote, and dang it I was good writer! Thus began
Phase Two: Nostalgia.
I was knee deep in old schoolwork and pictures, everything from yearbooks to wedding photos to catalogues Marty and I modeled for when we were both worth looking at. Baby books with adorable pictures and memorabilia of the kids, Shutterfly calendars with pictures of their kids, and on and on.
When I finally got all of them on shelves categorized as “College” and “photo albums and yearbooks,” I came across another genre … my old journals.
Abandoning all illusions that this would be a quick job, I sank into one of the kids’ TV chairs on the floor and opened one. I would just read a little, then get back to work …
I scarcely recognized the person who had written this drivel. I remembered the people mentioned, the circumstances that I had written about, but oh my – !
I was a moody woman then, to say the least. For someone with a relatively easy life, I had written with great passion about my journey into self-discovery … with the emphasis on self. What I discovered reading was that I was utterly self-centered: a self-conscious, self-loathing, self-important, self-pitying drama queen. (In my defense, I did major in drama at the university, but still … !)
I was so thoroughly disgusted with the young lady that had written this self-obsessed garbage that I didn’t see the silver lining for a while. Then it dawned on me –
I’m not that person any more!
Now my days begin with thanking God for one thing after another. Once I’ve given Him my body, mind, and heart (again) I’m seeing the bright side (“divine perspective?”) of everything. If a friend rejects my invitation to do something, I’ll call another friend. If nobody wants or is able to get together with me, instead of sinking into a pit of “what’s wrong with me?” depression, I get excited. Jesus want me all to Himself today! And I eagerly look forward to seeing what He has in store, whom He might bring across my path, and what He’s going to teach me about the world and the people around me.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a moment that I have “arrived.” I sometimes get discouraged with my lack of visible growth and have to remind myself that God’s grace covers my faults – that Jesus died so my sins could be forgiven, and that He’s not going to give up on me now.
I still have a LOT of growing to do. But that day I found the journals the Lord showed me that while daily growth has usually been imperceptible, over time He has brought me a long way. I’m so much happier now than I was 35 years ago.
(And no doubt the people around me are, too.)
Prayer: Lord, thank You for not giving up on me. Because of Your patient working in me, I am not what I was. But I’m not yet what I will be. I gladly yield myself to You (again) and trust You to grow me in the sunshine of your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.