Fighting with the Future

Wrestling with Life series

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11

At the beginning of this series I told you that I was ‘burnt out on trying.’ I was done…just done. This series has taken you (and me) on a journey of discovering what I was done with.

I’ve just begun reading Ecclesiastes. It’s not a book of the Bible I have ever spent much time reading because it always seemed depressing. I mean who really wants to read about everything being meaningless! However, as I finished reading Proverbs Ecclesiastes followed and I have discovered it is not the complete downer I had pegged it to be. I guess my heart was ready to hear its message and I realized it defines the burnt-out place I’ve been these last six months. Having surveyed all my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve I found it was a ‘chasing after the wind.’

I think my entire life has been spent trying to move something forward. I let my picture of who I was become about the next project I could control and accomplish. Letting the success or failure of the project define the parameters of what I would try to do next. There was always something I was working ‘towards’ and there is a distinct pattern which has repeated itself numerous times throughout my life—

  • As a teenager working to keep a family together only to have it all fall apart.
  • As a twenty-something working to move, grow and help a church reach a community only to have it split and fall apart.
  • As an early thirty-something working to make a difference and be valued in my job only to have the job change and fall apart.
  • And in the latter half of my 30s working to create something that would show my value, give me a way to contribute financially and prove myself capable of doing something that mattered, only to discover very little was built before it fell apart.

I have chased after projects and progress as a way of earning something I wasn’t meant to earn. I have finally come to the same conclusion Solomon did, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastics 3:12-13

Finding satisfaction in the toil…satisfaction in the toil. I have very rarely, ever, in my whole entire life let myself be satisfied in the toil. Not in my work, not in my role as wife and mother, not in myself. Creating, growing and moving forward is partly how I’m wired—a part of my nature. But it has always become about proving that I was valuable, loveable, needed and important—a truly chasing after the wind endeavor!

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. This summer I finally called it quits on the insanity. I’m done chasing after the wind.

As I close out the third decade of my life I am at a place I’ve never been before. I have nothing I need to chase after, nothing to prove, less fear of failure inhibiting me from trying, and absolutely no idea what to do next. It’s very surreal, oddly comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s next. When you stop doing what you’ve always done there’s no longer a playbook. But I do know my future endeavors won’t look much like my past ones.

This summer, in the midst of my ‘done’ place, Andy and I decided to also be done with focusing on function over form in our house. We decided we didn’t want to just have stuff but wanted the things we kept around us to be things we truly loved and felt proud of. Having never done anything to our house since moving in we decided it was time for a makeover–a slow, take our time so we do it right not just fast, live ‘in process’ makeover. We took everything down and moved as much as we could into corners and storage places. We’ve taken our time picking out colors and finding just the right items to refurbish. Four months into this minimal one year process and I am living amid more disorder than I ever have. Walls are patched but not sanded. Paint colors are sampled just waiting for me to get back to them. Pieces and parts of this project are all over the place.

When this makeover idea came up I knew it was what I needed to do and that I needed to do as much of the work myself as possible…but I didn’t really know why. What I’ve come to realize is that the literal project of my house is figurative for the internal project going on in my heart and life.

As I progress through the home remodel I sometimes wonder how all the pieces will come together. I question if I’ll really like things I’m trying. But I’m learning to trust my instincts, my ability and I am enjoying the process—however slow it may be. This is where I am internally as well. I’ve cleared away all the parts that used to drive and define me. I’ve kept and picked up pieces I believe will be a part of the future. I’m rediscovering passions that have long been buried. And I’m letting go of things that may have served me well but I don’t love. Just like my house has many pieces that will eventually be a part of the final product or eliminated from it, so my sense of self has the same.

The literal and the figurative—both are a matter of trusting the process and what is being created through it. The literal is about learning to trust myself and the figurative about learning to trust God.

In the process of this moment, when I don’t know how all the pieces will fit…I’m learning to be satisfied. Satisfied with the moment. Satisfied with not knowing what it will look like when all the parts are finally fit together. Satisfied in the roles and responsibilities I currently have. Satisfied to trust God for the future me He is crafting as I wrestle life.

I pray that you will wrestle so you may know the depth of life that comes as you do. Wrestle with value, wrestle with love, wrestle with your past and wrestle with your future. Wrestle with life for that is how you will truly experience it!