A month or so ago, I was feeling frustrated because I never could find that downtime where my mind and schedule were clear enough to read something thought-provoking or write something coherent. I finally realized that it was time. Time to get up a little earlier and do something intentional with the time I have before my husband has to leave for work.
This won’t go on indefinitely. During the summer, my husband is working as a law clerk and has no summer classes. He doesn’t have to go into work until 10 am. So lest you think I’m one of those early-bird risers who gets up cheerfully at 5 am, I’m not. But still, even if I’m not up till 7 or 7:30, I can still find a good solid chunk of time to read or write something until 9 am, which is when I take over childcare duties so that my husband can get ready for work himself (his commute is only 5 minutes, which makes things a lot easier too). This will all change, of course, when classes start back up in the fall and my husband will have that plus 20 hours of clerking a week to manage. Neither of us really want to think about how hard that will be at this point.
One of the nice things about having this time in the morning is that I’ve been able to read more encouraging books that frame my outlook before I begin my day. I am able to study down in my husband’s office in the basement, so that the kids don’t keep on knocking on a bedroom door upstairs wondering when I will come out. I’ve been greatly encouraged by Susan Schaeffer McCauley’s book “For the Family’s Sake,” in which she reminds us of the importance of home to a family’s life. I also have revisited Bob Schultz’s outstanding book, “Created for Work,” which has timeless devotionals on the ways work is a blessing in our lives and in the lives of others.
In Created for Work, I ran across a chapter recently that really struck me. It was entitled, “Process.” Not too exciting of a title, is it? But as I got into the story, I could see why it was worth writing about for him. Schultz wrote of how his wife preferred to plant grass seed instead of buying prepared sod. At times, she also preferred to save up slowly for a new appliance, even if they already had the money in savings. For her, the process of working toward something was just as important as achieving the goal itself.
The reason this chapter stuck out to me is that I had been struggling at times with our own process, that of having three small kids, being in our late 30′s/early 40′s, and deciding to leave a secure job with very good health insurance to pursue law school, where we now have loans (though we’re minimizing them as much as possible), not-so-great health insurance, and an uncertain future. I read of other bloggers who have gone through these same struggles, but are now at the other end, not only having no debt, but also owning homes, and it’s hard not to feel like we’re doing something wrong, or that we’re doing it all backwards – shouldn’t we have gotten married first in our 20′s, and then went to school, and then had kids? There are so many times where I just want to skip all the uncertainty and fast-forward to what I consider to be the good stuff – less financial stress, more predictability.
But as I read Schultz’s thoughts, I realized that if we were able to fast forward through these next few years, we would be missing out on a lot. Law school and all of its stresses aside, we have three small children who will do a lot of growing and changing in the next few years. I’m hoping to homeschool, and there will be lots of memories made there too. We have been blessed with friendships through our church, and those will hopefully continue to grow.
And what of the challenges? Isn’t it funny how the best movies and books are the ones where you don’t know at one point if they’re going to make it or not? What lessons does God have to teach us in the midst of these times? What growing and changing do we have to do ourselves?
There is a saying that we should enjoy the ride, but I don’t know if that’s always true. I don’t think that life is always enjoyable. The easy times are fun, but the tough parts of life shouldn’t be hidden or wished away just because they don’t feel good. They are filled with lessons and opportunities to grow if we will only accept them.