Fresh Beginnings

2011 was a full year of beginnings for this little family. It was Weston’s first full year of life outside of the womb, the true start of Aaron’s Air Force career, the first semester of my seminary/graduate school studies, and the beginning of our journey together as a military family.

As I look forward in 2012, at our life in a new country on a new continent, my travails through online courses “at” my new seminary, and our first full year in this military life, I see an entirely new set of beginnings. I cannot help but wonder: Is not all of life full of fresh beginnings? How many of us truly maintain the same everything year after year? Sure, after all of the changes in my life since I became pregnant with Weston, I’ve longed for some of the mundane, a little less “excitement,” and time to just stop and enjoy the moment. I am not certain that is strictly possible and considering that children change every single day, it is almost certain that life will never be the same again. This ensures a lifetime of fresh beginnings, if not one that is completely unpredictable and even a bit chaotic.

This chaos in the life of a parent, military wife, and seminary student is something to which I will certainly adjust… right? I do not know. In fact, I am not so sure it is something to which I can adjust. Ultimately, whether I adjust or fail to adjust is not the important question. The only issue of any true value is my attitude toward the trials, uncertainty, and chaos.

At each point in my life, I have found myself looking back at a previous period and thinking, “Wow, that was such a simpler time.” Yet I am not sure that is ever a true statement. I think it only seems the past was a simpler time because I am able to look back on it from a vantage point in which I “know now” what I did not at that time. And a year from now, I will look back from a vantage point of knowing at that time what I do not know now. That ridiculous cliché, “Hindsight is always 20/20” is true. You can never see clearly when you are in the moment. You try, using the resources at your existing arsenal, and when you make mistakes, you hope to learn from them so that you can look back and think on how much simpler life really was.

And so, as I look forward to a new semester at a new seminary in a new country on a new continent in an entirely new life with my growing, changing toddler and my newly military husband, I will approach it with as much grace and dignity as I can muster (yes, I said muster). I will seek to learn what I can to assist me in the future chaos, so that I can look back with a smile and think, “If only I had known then what I know now,” it would have seemed a much simpler time.

Later this week I will reflect on my first impressions of my new courses. Thus far, it appears I will have a semester rich in theological study and thought. Blessings to all.

The Intimidation Proclamation

BooksAreIntimidating

Just a few of my seminary books this semester. Intimidated much?

Much of my time is spent in a persistent state of awe and intimidation. My husband’s computer brilliance, strength, and neat-freakyness are awesome and intimidate me. My son’s extreme cuteness and ease with people keeps me in a constant state of awe (and “Awwww!”) such that I often find myself marveling at his talents. The core three members of my family (mom, dad, brother) are so effortlessly cool and intelligent that I am, quite frankly, intimidated, feeling lame and geeky by comparison. I am awe-struck by the brilliance of and uniqueness by which many of my friends live, learn, and see the world. I often can’t believe how naturally motherhood and/or military life seems to come to my fellow moms and fellow military wives. My fellow pop-culture (and Whedon-y) obsessed folks are much brighter than I am with the heavy analysis and pick up on things so much faster than I do that I end up feeling pretty inarticulate and stoopid in the course of everyday Facebooking and Tweeting. I feel like everyone at seminary is much better equipped for this calling than I am and sometimes I ask God if he’s serious in calling me to this life. The ease with which most people exercise, play sports, run around with their kids, walk, write, sunbathe, and otherwise live their lives relatively healthily without a second thought toward how an action might affect their “chronic illness” is a source of constant intimidation and awe. The perfection of Jesus and the idea that I’m to “walk” with Him is an unrelentingly awesome and intimidating idea.

I am intimidated. I am in awe. Every. Single. Day.

All of that, taken together, makes it appear as though I live my life in a state of fear — a desperate feeling of inferiority — and is enough to make some never leave the house (it has contributed to my lupus-predictive, depressive bouts in the past). If I mentioned all of that to a psychiatrist, I might well be highly medicated. These sorts of feelings could surely cripple me and it might be perfectly understandable.

But it isn’t a negative; it is inspiring.

For me, all of that – every piece of it – is positive. This persistent awe and intimidation inspires me to be better, work harder, push further, and think deeper than I might do otherwise. That these people exhibit the best qualities that I want to see in myself doesn’t cripple me with envy and make me angry at them. It makes me try to be better.

I am reminded of a deceptively simple Dollhouse quote,

I try to be my best.

These words (and actions) are something programmed into the Actives, but it doesn’t make it any more genuine nor any less something to strive after. They really do try to be their best. And why not? Why shouldn’t we all try to be our best every day? What’s so wrong with that? When did we become so cynical and lazy that optimism and happily eager attitudes began to be looked at as negative? When did we become “too cool” to do our best? When did the inspiring qualities in others become something to refer to as intimidating? They’re *not* intimidating. They’re inspiring. By merely changing our phraseology, we can change our entire outlook. It is not easy, but it is possible.

I didn’t set out to write something else so shamefully optimistic, but there you have it.

What intimidates or strikes a feeling of awe in you?

I challenge you to turn that object, quality, or person into an inspiration and see where it takes you.