I love youth. I love the assurance and clarity of the future that it brings. I love the “I’m invincible” nature that has not been corrupted by the trials and pitfalls of life. I love the fact that I hear that incurable hope for the future from my three kids every day.
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), the nature of my overprotective Mama Bear mentality eventually kicks in to warn them about the unexpected things in life. Those things that can and probably will happen at some point in their lives that will rock their worlds. Some are good, and some are bad.
I used to be one of those young people. I can remember thinking on the day that I graduated from college, “I’m 22 years old, a college graduate, and I start a cool job in 3 weeks. There’s nothing that can stop, deter, or change my life for the worse now.”
Until the unexpected happened.
I’ve come to realize that the unexpected things that happened in my life were probably not even bad things. When life stuff started happening…job loss, a broken heart, a scary car accident…I didn’t know where to turn. The shock I experienced when life happened because I thought I was invincible. I imagine that my feelings of invincibility are very similar to what my kids experiencing now. And I promise, y’all, I really try hard not to be cynical but you know….life.
I walk a fine line daily between hopes, dreams, and reality because my kids are on the cusp of adulthood and they have a very hopeful view of the future. I try not to be negative and I really want them to be positive, but I do want them to be prepared for the moments that will come. So between me, you, and the blogosphere, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on life, and what I learned from them.
After all, these things slipped in when I least expected them to.
I never thought I’d be a single mom. I imagine that none of us think that our marriages will end in divorce on the day we stand before God, our families and friends and vow to love each other until death do us part. But life happens. Unmet expectations happen. Infidelity happens. Communication wanes. Walls and barriers are built where honesty and transparency should live. To top off all of the emotional struggles that divorce causes, single moms somehow find themselves responsible for the emotional, social, and academic development of their hurting kids. To say I was called to single motherhood feels weird, but one thing I know for sure is that it was definitely unexpected.
I never thought I’d work at a church. I was talking to one of my cousins recently and he said, “Don’t take this the wrong way…but when did you get good enough with God to work at a church?” My answer was simple, “God knows that I actually needed to be in His word more and the only way I’d do it is if I had to do it every single day for eight hours a day.” It’s the truth y’all. Before I started my current job, my life was a mess and part of the reason it was a mess is that I did not prioritize the word of God and the time I spent with Him. The sin in my life was (and still is) so real.
I never thought I’d like apple cider vinegar. It is an acquired taste. It has meant the difference in a lot of things related to my physical health. From weight loss to managing blood sugar levels to curbing those pesky carb cravings. I have even noticed that it helps boost my immune system. The beauty of it is that one teaspoon goes a long way.
I never thought I’d drive a minivan, again. If you don’t know the story, read this. A couple years ago I thought I had outgrown the minivan mom phase of my life. I stepped out of the will of God and sold my minivan for hopes and dreams of a sexier car. As far as I was concerned, minivans were a thing of the past. Until I had car problems upon car problems upon car problems. And as trials go, God got my attention. I pressed into Him more and learned the lesson in obedience. Shameless plug: my car issues and the lessons I learned from them are mentioned a lot in my book, Spiral & Squiggly: Intentional Living When Life Isn’t Straight and Narrow.
I never thought my hair would grow past my shoulders. In 2010 I stopped using relaxers in my hair. Each year since my hair has continued to grow. And grow. And grow some more. I’m glad I was able to embrace my naturally curly hair and find a hair care regimen that suits my style and my schedule.
I never thought I’d wear the same size of clothes I wore 20 years ago. This one is big. I FINALLY lost all of my baby weight…17 years after the birth of my oldest child and 14 years after the birth of my youngest. Believe it or not, this one is directly attached to one of the pits I mention below.
I never knew music can affect my mood drastically. Do you know that new songs are released on iTunes every Friday? Did you know that if you take 30 minutes to an hour on Thursday nights to peruse and take a listen to the latest releases, you are guaranteed to go to sleep happy?
I never thought that I would have the have the strength to climb out of the spiritual pits of food addiction, unhealthy romantic relationships, and a life of financial debt. Several years ago, I read this book by Beth Moore. At the time I read it, my lack of spiritual maturity prevented me from making the changes in my life to get out of those pits. At that time, I wanted Jesus in my life, but I wanted to control where He went and the advice He gave. It took me some additional time to realize that our God definitely expects to be all in.
I never accepted that my first reaction is usually the wrong reaction. But it is. Because y’all, I tend to be excitable and freak out. Some people say I’m extra. I heard a minister say this in a sermon once when He referred to the Holy Spirit as the guide that should direct our lives daily. “Your first reaction to something is not the Holy Spirit talking to you. How you feel about something is not the Holy Spirit talking to you. Only the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit and He has nothing to do with what you think and feel should happen in any given circumstance.” Ouch.
I never thought I would be a mom who homeschooled. This life is something. When the kids were babies and toddlers I kept the thought of homeschooling in the back of my head. As we moved through the elementary school years, I still had an urge towards homeschooling but felt that I needed the school communities we were a part of. When CJ’s battle with epilepsy became uncontrollable a few years ago, I had no choice but to homeschool him. We did that for a couple of years and then high school happened and everyone was excited about letterman jackets, school homecoming dances, and varsity basketball games. Today, two of them homeschool. The oldest one homeschooled his junior and senior high school years and is now in college. We’ve done it for medical reasons, college-readiness reasons, and creative reasons. The bottom line is as a parent you do what works best for you, for your kids, and for your family as a whole. Despite the naysayers, the weird looks, and all the questions, homeschooling worked best for us.
So there we have it….life. While this isn’t the life I would have planned for myself, it definitely the one God has planned, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that all things work together for His good. What are some things you can say you never thought would happen in your life?