Have you ever tricked yourself into thinking that the next season of life will be calmer than the present? I am one of those people who almost always feels like she is on the edge of control, barely juggling life’s many responsibilities, always longing for that barely-out-of-reach state of Having It All Together.
Case in point: summer “break.” I was sure that life after graduate school would be a breeze. Wrong. Between working three jobs, looking for full-time work, and trying to enjoy the pleasures of a summer in Chicago, there were rarely enough hours in a day. Surely life would assume a more gentle pattern post summer school? I guess it was my own fault that I traveled far and wide for two weeks straight, always moving, moving. There’s a danger in such busyness, and I found myself succumbing to the mental and spiritual numbness allowed by my crazy calendar. And to be honest, I think the last time my calendar wasn’t crazy was…a long time ago.
So it was a hidden grace that I was brought to a complete stop this week by sickness. Unable to continue attacking my omnipresent to-do list, I finally settled down to read, and think, and be. Things that are remarkably uncomfortable when they haven’t been practiced in a while.
And it was again hidden grace that a book I ordered arrived just in time for this forced season of rest. I am already halfway through Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved, and getting this book is one of those events showing that God works in all things. I love even the title of this book. It’s not Life of the Good Social Worker or Life of the Vibrant Church Member or Life of the [insert a role you play], all great things, but all implying activity and doing. Life of the Beloved is about being loved, and even then it’s secondarily about me loving others and primarily about me being loved by Someone who is totally outside of myself, whose love is not conditional or dependent on me, whose love is everlasting and whole. That kind of love frees me from my expectations of myself, from my to-do lists, from the desire to numb myself to the areas where I think I’ve failed.
Anyway, I hope I get to share some things I’m learning from this book at some point in time. No promises, since I’m not adding things to my to-do list right now. For now, I hope you are encouraged to spend some time today knowing you are beloved by God.