“Am I even cut out for this?”
My bestie Alycia was nearing her licensure test. She graduated with a Masters in Social Work a while ago, but in order to practice clinically, she needed to be licensed in her state. I thought of everything I know about this woman, how she’s been doing this work informally since I’ve known her, how good she is at it, how it lights her up.
“Yes, you’re cut out for it.” All I can picture is my mom’s bedroom floor with a green cutting mat and rotary cutter and do-not-use-on-paper-or-you-will-die scissors and pieces of tan tissue-paper pattern attached to fabric with straight pins of various colors. “This is exactly the shape of your soul. It’s what you were made for.”
It’s been a few months since we had this conversation. She took the test and passed it without breaking a sweat. She’s been up here for part of that time, and is now walking toward this part of her calling.
And I’m still thinking about the conversation.
How, exactly, does one figure out the shape of her soul? I’m by no means a seamstress, but my mom certainly is (she made my wedding dress from a picture of me in a David’s Bridal gown and it was amazing), so I at least have an image of the process. Right now, I’m looking at a bunch of random pieces, wondering how they’re supposed to fit together and what they’ll make when they’re done. I have no doubt the Designer has something in mind, but I’m not sure what. I’m not even certain they are all for the same thing. Maybe it’s a collection of various pieces. I have no idea. This metaphor breaks down here—I don’t think God is giving me a puzzle to solve: if He wants me to do something, it’ll unfold as it should and I just need to live my life as it does. But I do wonder what it’s becoming. Not with anxiety, usually, but with curiosity and amazement. I’m finding pieces of me I didn’t know were there, or maybe even are contrary to what I thought was there.
So I’m paying attention.
My interests and passions are different than I expected at 20. I suppose I could have seen writing coming, but I never would have pegged me for a photographer—certainly not of birth—but I’m 100% fired up about showing women their beauty as they bear humans into the world. More on that some other week. I expected to be fully fulfilled by marriage and motherhood, which was a particular type of idolatry I’ll need to explore later. I didn’t care at all about politics except for policies surrounding unborn babies and now I definitely do—particularly about the intersections of politics, the church, and Jesus—but my pro-life bent is taking me some places I would not have guessed, places at odds with who I thought I was then. (Another post for another day.) I expected to homeschool my hypothetical children and love it and be good at it. I am homeschooling some of them, and I love and am good at parts of it, but it’s different than I expected—20 was just a little before I realized how truly terrible I am at teaching. My passion for marriage in general (and in particular, now) remains, but again, real life has added some nuance to my clear-eyed idealism. I stopped exercising and eating carefully because I hate my body and started exercising and eating carefully because I like it, which doesn’t sound like a huge shift, and behaviorally it isn’t, but you’re smart, and if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know how hard-won this non-change is.
I could go on, but that paragraph is a beast already and I have about a month’s worth of blog posts embedded in it and that’s plenty. Basically, things have grown and morphed and nuance has been added in the last couple decades and I no longer have the very concrete, specific idea of who I’m going to be at 35, and 35 came and went a couple years ago.
So there are my interests and passions, which surprise me, and then there are the pieces of my actual life which are bigger and, in many ways, more significant.
There’s my marriage, which is entirely predictable in some ways and highly unusual in others.
There are my children, which, surprise! I actually don’t have as much control over as I thought I would, and that’s both delightful and terrifying.
There’s my home, which takes a lot more effort to keep than I ever thought about, and also I really love the liturgy of keeping it, except for the constant interruptions from aforementioned kids.
I’m an HSP, which presents some challenges, but is its own sort of superpower, too.
After a lot of years of neglecting sleep as a habit led to adrenal fatigue a couple years ago and now I have to be really careful about physical limitations.
So where does this leave me?
And why am I telling you?
It leaves me paying attention to my life, trying to discern my next right thing at any given moment, and encouraging you to do the same.
And the posture of paying attention and next-right-thing discernment is important, too. Many points would find me stressed out, fearful of missing something important. But now there’s quiet anticipation, trust, curiosity. I don’t actually need to know all the things now. I didn’t know all the things at 20—I thought I did in some cases but I didn’t, and the areas where I did know about the information gaps freaked me out significantly—and I don’t know why I’d expect to know them all now. To be honest, I’m glad I keep being surprised. A single straight line toward maturity without any detours or points of interests would be lame.