I’m in a season, kind of always, of asking what’s next, and am I doing what God would like me to do, and am I becoming the woman God wants me to be, and what, actually, is that person, anyway, and is there something I’m supposed to be doing right now, and why do I feel like I’m running toward something, but I’m not always sure what; it’s all a bit much sometimes. On an optimistic view backwards, these questions seem beautifully connected to each other or indicative of something grown, something learned, something experienced. Other days, I fear my story’s a “failure to launch”-type of story. This is probably pretty human.
I love a patchwork view and I’m determined to make one outta my life, and outta the fabric squares I cut. But sometimes the squares don’t match how I wish and I’m not sure some of those are cut right. Sometimes I’m not sure it’s going to come together at all. This patchwork life stuff, like a big old quilt; it’s a commitment to begin, to say it’s going to turn out or it won’t, but let’s sew.
Last night, I was sharing stories with a couple strangers and one of them said something Willa Cather herself said in “O Pioneers!”, in that our stories ain’t unique; we all been there, and ain’t nobody want to listen but it’s the truth. And when it gets hard, people wanna quit because they don’t want that, they don’t expect that.
Well. I’m listening. I don’t want to quit.
I wonder sometimes if my own questions would have more context if I knew others’ stories had these same themes. That’s why I want to make a life of collecting stories; everyone has a story, and everyone’s stories are really often pretty much the same thematically. (Why do we all cry at “I was lost but now I’m found”?) I feel as if we could collect those stories, we’d find ourselves not so unique. We all been there. I’m drawn to stories; strip away the stories into a formula or a list and I’m lost; Donald Miller got that part right in “Searching for God Knows What.”
And a friend handed me another beautiful book — the kind of book from a century and a half ago that was made for book-lovers because it just fits so well in the hand. It hugs the palms, open wide.
It’s been a book I’ve nodded at for a chapter or two. But today, I read a part perched on the end of the bed. A phrase launched me into the living room as if the bed caught fire. Book in hand, I was breathing hard in the living room before I knew why. I usually speak of living books as books with literary value, but this one? This was a book alive. It spoke, I launched.
“The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is, during each day and each hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel he intends in the future to make it. ….
“The apple in June is a perfect apple for June; it is the best apple that June can produce: but it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple.
“God’s works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man’s works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete. All that we claim, then, in this life of sanctification is, that by an act of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Lord, for Him to work in us all the good pleasure of His will, and then, by a continuous exercise of faith, keep ourselves there. This is our part in the matter.”
“The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” Hannah Whitall Smith
The human story struggles against just being still with God, and lettin’ Him work. Me too.
Maybe my questions and no one listening to people’s stories who’ve been there are all kinda not-being-still struggles.
We have to be still to listen, I mean. And not all the June apples make it to October. I want to see the fall, is all. I have to learn to be still.