For a long time, for as long as I can remember really, I've lived my life in view of building toward a future reality: high school and college courses completed in preparation for a future career, money saved and choices made to further my plans for marriage, children, and a home we can call our own. I worked. I prayed. I waited. I cried many impatient tears.
And now, my dreams have become my reality. I have a husband, two beautiful daughters, and a comfortable home.
Most days, I can scarcely believe it. The two little girls snuggled side by side in the basket of my Costco shopping cart - they're mine, slobbery grins, sloppy ponytails, and all. The handsome man who swoops them up in a flurry of tickles and giggles at the end of the day - mine too. And the home we've all built together, the wood floors and book-lined walls, the light and the laughter - another sweet gift.
This is it, I've realized lately. This is the life I've always wanted. It's crazy and exhausting and we have plenty of arguments and melt-downs, but it is also beautiful and full. For the first time in a long time, there is no deep desire unfulfilled. I still miss Avaleen, but even that grief feels settled, at peace.
There is gratitude in this place of desired fulfilled, deep, deep thankfulness for the sweetness of these days: a sleeping baby in my arms, a quiet morning on the couch with my big girl and a pile of her favorite books, the chaotic joy of a family adventure to a children's museum.
But I've felt a certain anxiety too. This is it means this time is boundaried, fleeting. I no longer have the leisure of simply dreaming of the kind of family I will have; instead, in the thousands of little decisions I make each day, decisions about schooling and discipline and leisure, I am determining the kind of family we do have. I worry we're not doing it right. I worry about surviving until bedtime; I worry that a childhood full of bedtimes will pass and we'll wish we'd done things differently.
Perhaps another way of saying this is that I am no longer in my twenties, or as of this summer, my early thirties. Life no longer seems to stretch before me full of endless options and possibilities. The months pass with an increasing rapidity, and the things I can control seem to grow daily smaller, as these two little pieces of my heart push their own ways out into the wide, wide world.
I've struggled to find Jesus in this new place, the marks of His presence unfamiliar here. I know the way to Him in the well-worn paths of unfulfilled desires, grief, disappointment. But in sweet fullness, in the fleeting moments and daily decisions of parenthood, I find Him elusive.
He does not change, but I have. I feel the need to find Him again, to figure out new ways to connect my heart to His. And so I pray small prayers. I write feeble words.
And I begin to remember that what was true in the empty places in the past is true here in the chaotic fullness too: He will find me. He will lead me. He will meet me where I am.