06 May 2008

When the grass seems greener

Or the shoe is on the other foot, or something like that.

Some days, I foolishly like to think that I’ve got a corner on the market of justifiable self-pity. (Never mind that self-pity is never really justifiable.) Like some of these latter days, when my clothes don’t fit, the baby won’t sleep, the big brothers fight, everyone’s been sick, the house is a wreck that I never escape, and I’d really like some adult company, conversation, or challenges. And worst of all, I see these days marching ahead in infinite progression, no end in sight…

Days like those, the single life (or life with a small, predictable number of children) can seem pretty darn appealing. I can catch myself not only in self-pity, but in self-righteousness: Anyone who’s not currently living in the midst of the messy CSPP life don’t know nothin’ about carrying a cross. They think they’ve got it tough? Crying their woes into their lattes on their coffee break when my cup of tea on the counter is long past cold and I don’t even get a bathroom break? Snort! Try my life on for a day!

Well. I try to hoist myself out of such wallowing before I’ve been there long enough to get really yucky. Trying to stay in touch with people who have been called to other vocations, or who must deal with other challenges of which I know nothing, helps. I meet some such people through books. For instance, Lori Smith writes in her A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love &Faith about how much she’d like to get married and have a family. She’s in her thirties now, and it just hasn’t happened yet.

So here I am, thinking how nice it would to be freelance and footloose, traveling the world at one’s whim on a self-chosen project. And there she is, doing just that. She writes about how she appreciates many things about her life, but she also writes about the longing she feels at her yearly OB-GYN appointment, when she sees all the pictures on the wall of mothers with their newborns. And she writes about her “achingly empty” bed:

“I don’t regret pursuing chastity. I’m not sorry that this is how I’ve lived my life. But in the present and future, it’s harder to be certain. I believe this is the right decision and the healthiest decision, the intention of God’s creation and the best way to fulfill it (if one can talk about being fulfilled not having sex) and all that. It’s just that it doesn’t always make sense. More than anything else, this one aspect of my life throws into stark relief the fact that I am not living for myself. It is the central tenet of Christianity—your life is not your own; it is not solely about your pleasure but about serving and obeying God.”

Huh. And here I’ve been liking to think that the only real way of “not living for myself” is my way. Much needed note to self: CSPP doesn’t have the corner on vocational self-denial. And so I will remember, at least for a day, not to complain about my bed seeming not too empty but too full nowadays. I will remember, at least for today, to enjoy the greenness of this pasture in which God has placed me, without all those surreptitious glances over the fence.

For tomorrow, I will throw myself once again upon the grace of our infinitely wise and unfailingly compassionate God. I will ask for the humility to learn not only from the challenges of my own vocation, but also from those of others who are called to different crosses and joys. I will fail, and fail again, but His mercies are new every morning (and midday, and evening… ).

[And meanwhile, it really helps to have a blog where I can vent when I need to ;D ]


Rebekah said...

Even for those with the gift, celibacy is a cross. At the end of my exhausting, infuriating, depressing days, my husband is there to keep me from being alone. And to regularly provide me with more people to make it even harder for me to be alone. :D

But with all this Jane Austen reading you're doing, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of an honorary D.Litt. one of these years.

Gauntlets said...

I've often wondered what would have become of my life if I had never married and thus been free to school myself into oblivion. I wasn't one of those girls that dreamed of getting married one day, neither did I write in flowery letters all the names of my future children. But, alas! Here I am, a Freezer Full of Chicken after all.

I keep The Virgin's picture in my kitchen. Her "Let it be unto me" strengthens me most days. And while we mothers are not much like her yet, we will be one day. No oblivion necessary. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Rebekah said...

Ha! She's in my kitchen too.

Reb. Mary said...

Well, I know my next home decor wish list item.

Rebekah said...

Dad got mine when a hospital call took him in the vicinity of a papist bookstore. Then he got mad at me when he found it in a drawer a while back and thought I was making a confessional statement. He forgot we were having the kitchen painted.