Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ladders



Do you ever feel like your life is the game of chutes and ladders? You take one step forward and one step back but you just aren't really getting anywhere?

This morning, Joel had the first pause he has had in months and it was probably only an hour, but he chose to read from a book called, "Be Love Now" by Ram Dass. Noelle is in another growth spurt and I am on day 4 of a minimal nights sleep so he gave me another hour to try and reclaim some zzz's while he hung out with her in the den. When I zombied in to see what they were up to he greeted me with this line from the book, "The more you try to change the more things stay the same." 

I wasn't ready to be challenged so quickly after waking up so I didn't give it the thought it really deserved at the time. Instead, I made breakfast and we ate it on the porch. 

Now that a few more hours have passed and the beauty of our morning together on the porch turned into the frustration of an afternoon in the yard trying to fix our broken car, I find myself settling on that thought- the more you try to change the more things stay the same.

What the hell does that mean? 

Tired and annoyed, after an unsuccessful car repair attempt I sighed, thinking, "We just can't catch a break." But before that thought had even left my mind a filmstrip of "breaks" flashed before my eyes from the last few days. None, and I mean NONE, of our plans for our family weekend of camping in the mountains came to pass. However, it still felt like a really nice time full of little serendipities and answered prayers even in the midst of our destroyed plans and malfunctioning vehicles.

This has been one of the toughest seasons we have endured as a couple and a family. It is so full of good things that we are building towards to create a good future, but it is a very demanding season. The hardest parts aren't the physical demands but trying to conquer your own minds and hearts as we endure them. This has been a season of not giving up. Not letting the chutes of life dissuade us from living it to the fullest even when we are feeling confined by so many of our decisions and opportunities. 

When I ponder Joel's quote from the morning I just see that game from my childhood...those ladders and those red slides. As a kid, I always liked the idea of going down some of those long slides because they seemed so fun, but in the end, it meant you would have to hike all the way back up to where you were if you were ever going to win. Maybe I just didn't care about winning because climbing up that far is so much harder and demands so much more from you.

If we are going to get ahead we are going to have to climb. The steady onslaught of work at my grandparents home that we are fixing up, our cars falling apart, demands from our jobs, duties in the home where we live, diligent attention to our tight budget, needs from our child, family, friends, and all that life offers, seem to suspend us in a habitual state of just keeping our heads above water without allowing us to climb into the boat and simply enjoy the ride. 

We have to climb, one step at a time. If we give up, even for a moment, we just might slip right down one of those great, big slides. That ride down might even feel so freeing but in the end, we will just have to start over and climb back up to where we came from because our dreams and desires are not going to go away and they are not going to simply come to life on their own. We have to keep pressing on and that is the hardest part of this blessed season.

While we work steadfastly to try to make things better, what I am begging to understand is that things are already good. Fullness is already there. Goodness is already being handed to us. Yes, it is really hard and demanding AND yes, it is already good.

I think I get it now. We can try and manipulate our circumstances all we want but they will never be different if we can't change our minds. Nothing is ever going to change if we can't change how we perceive our experiences. 

For me, I keep climbing and on the climb, though I am sore and tired and frustrated, I stop to receive the gifts along the way and they are there. The cool nights breeze coming in from the car windows that won't roll up. The text from my in-laws saying they are finishing the awful work at the house for us today since we are home working on the car. The moment of eating breakfast together on the porch instead of around a picnic table at our campsite. It really is all good.

We just have to keep climbing because that is how you win.








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