Sunday, November 24, 2013

Billy, dear! Such an ugly word!

There are many ugly words in this big world. Words like: Homework - (noun) a polite way of referring to the stack of assignments which are all due today and you haven't even studied. Bored - (adj.) an obnoxious (but very effective) way of asking for more chores. Quinoa - (noun) synonym for South American dirt. Gun control - (noun) The fastest way to start an argument since throwing tea into the Boston Harbor. Hopefully you're grinning right about now, 'cause you know I'm being silly (sort of ;). Keep your grin on - there's more where that came from. I've been thinking about another culturally ugly word. Single - (adj.) a state of unfulfilled resignation to the will of God, perpetual loneliness, and awkward answers to the question, "So what do you do?" Being an unmarried 21 year old without a degree was never part of any of my plans for life. 20 was the oldest I could possibly imagine being single. The funny thing is, as most of you know, 20 came and went for me and my filing status is still "single." Now, I could wax eloquent and say all the pretty things that unmarried, homeschool girls are wont to say. But you can read that on a bazillion other blogs and even more books. Instead, I intend merely to examine the subject - one that I've been majoring in for 3 years now. If you had asked when I was 6 what I intended to "be," I would have told you that I was probably going to be a nurse, maybe a vet, but definitely not a teacher. At 10, I would have told you that by 21, I would be a medical missionary in Mexico - married, but none of "our" 6 children would have come yet. Within in a couple years, 6 imaginary kids turned into 14. Do you see a theme? A degree and husband, at the very least, by 21. When I was 16, I decided not to go to college. It was kind of a scary decision - disapproving extended family, friends who couldn't understand why I was abandoning a career field where I would have excelled, and some rocky relationships at home that needed some serious patching. But I took a deep breath and thought, "It'll be alright, it's only for a couple years." Haha :) It's been 5 years and could be 5 (or 70) more. There are times when it's really hard. When I'm in the home of another family, it's hard, because I'm doing for someone else what I want to do for my own family. When business calls me to the hospital - whether it be the cancer unit or labor & delivery - it can be hard, because I actively prepared for that life and I still feel in my element when I smell caviwipes and alcohol. It's hard when I let myself get too busy and find myself coming home at 11 pm to a house I haven't cleaned in days. Those are the moments when I think I chose a hard path. Now here's where I sound a bit pompous, because I know I'm still far from being an old hand at this. I know a few of my readers have been single longer than I have, so maybe I'm preachin' to the choir. But I think we need to be honest with the younger set and encourage each other to press on. Yeah, it can be hard to be single. But, let me tell you some of the perks. You have to keep the benefits in sight, not just focus on what you don't have. Horny toads in pockets. Yup, there's not much cuter than a 4 year old with a horny toad peeking out of his shirt pocket. If you have younger siblings, getting married will mean missing some of those picture perfect moments. It will probably mean you don't get to try on a pair of glasses made out of legos or gear ties. It will probably mean no more hunkering down behind a water barrel with a laser tag gun, looking around furtively for flashes of red to shoot back at. Experience. I have a resume. No, I've never seen it. My screening service is responsible for keeping it updated. Now if that all sounded like gibberish: my family rates each accomplishment, each meal, each milestone on a scale of 0-5 rolling pins (you know, like stars for a movie). Somewhere on my resume is a mark of zero for an embarrassing coffee adventure, but it's sort of evened out by the 5s I get for cheesecake. Making mistakes is a given when learning. Make them now and you'll look like a pro when you're a newlywed ;) Time management. Ugh. I am far from an expert on this one, but I'm getting better. Learn to make the most of that 5 minutes or 1/2 an hour. Yeah, it's nice to have a chunk of time for sewing or cleaning, but that's not always reality. Snatch those moments to clean out one cupboard, hem one pair of pants, or send one email that you should have sent yesterday. Relationships. Relationships. And no, I don't mean romantic ones. I mean learning to live as an adult in a family full of adults. When you're a kid, if you aren't getting along with one sibling you go play elsewhere. If you're an adult and a kid is being cantankerous, you send them to their room. But what do you do when your adult brother is driving you to drink, when the authorities (parents) are making decisions you don't agree with, or the tension level for the whole family is about to create a mushroom cloud that would dwarf Hiroshima. When you're an adult, adult relationships are going to be more a part of your reality than fighting over tonka trucks. I fail here often, but we can use these single years to learn how to keep relationships healthy. Stop for a moment and make a list of the people in your family. I guarantee that as you think of each individual, you can think of some traits that make you crazy. Some may be big (personality clashes exist in families, too) and some may be small (a tone of voice that creeps in and just rubs you the wrong way). But for a moment, put those irritations to the side and think of why you like each person. It may be harder with some than others. But think hard. Yeah, maybe they're a bit whiney, but they're also the most compassionate person... I challenge you to think of something good for everything bad. Start looking for those through out the day. When "X" pulls that stunt you hate so much, remember one of the things you love about them. Remember that at the end of the day, something about you makes everyone else insane. Remember that your family kept you, too :) It's called "covering a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) I know that as I've gotten older, relationships have changed. That one "brother" who saved pretzels for "Danna," who blew a hole in the ceiling with me, who told me I would love geometry (he was wrong, btw), who squished a mouse with a picture frame for me - yeah, we're both adults now. He's got a job and our interests don't overlap as much as they used to. I miss the evenings of puzzles, monopoly, and washing dishes. He's still just about my dearest friend, but in a different way. Some day, the kid who had a horny toad in his pocket yesterday is going to do the same thing: grow up and move on. If you happen to be without little people in your life, the same holds true for parent/child relationships. I remember when my Uncle seemed 10 ft tall. He was always kind to me, but I didn't realize just how very kind he is until I was closer to his height :) My Aunt was pretty much the greatest person ever. Well, some things don't change, you just come to understand better why they're true :) And then, of course, there's Mom. Aren't we all thankful that our moms put up with us! If I'd been married at 18 like I "planned," I wouldn't have learned any of this. As much as I hope to married someday, I don't feel the same desire to rush out and leave my family behind. The other thing that has really helped me to be happy at home: being at home. I spend a lot of time rushing about. I'm a worrier, you see. I hate money (can we just barter with eggs and butter, please?), it's a nuisance, I can't stand dealing with it. And yet I found my schedule driven by it. This job, that job, teaching 15 hours a week, rake it in, rake it in, and stash it because you never know what could happen. Do you know what that did for me? It made me resent being at home, because when I got home, I was tired. But I still had work to do at home. So the house got further and further behind and I got more and more stressed because I don't deal well with disorder. But after twice stressing myself to the point of physical illness (yes, I'm hard headed - it runs in the family), I realized that I was feeding a vicious cycle. I didn't want to be in my home. I didn't want to be out of my home. lol, you can't live like that forever! So I stopped to think. Why was I doing that? Well, at least partly because I'd bought a lie. It's easy to become caught up in the world's idea of success. Imagine with me a hypothetical conversation: "So, what are you doing now that you're graduated?" "Well, I decided to stay home and not go to college." *crickets chirping* "Hey... you know what, that's great... so you, like, have a job, right?" "Well, I do odd jobs, babysitting, helping out at home, I'm sewing teacher, too." *more crickets* "Well, um, that's cool... so, are you dating?" By this time, I'm usually ready for the conversation to be o.v.e.r. so I just smile and shake my head. "You know, I know this great guy, you should meet him!" "That's alright, I don't date, I believe that God will bring the right man in the right time." *the crickets are positively deafening* "Oh.... well are there any young men at your church?" "Yes, a couple, but I'm not interested in a relationship with any of them." You girls know what I'm talking about. Our society simply isn't programmed for "stay at home daughters." Unless you have time to go all the way back to square one, fast answers can seem really lame and flat. So I tried to fill up the awkward pauses with an elaboration of how busy I was, you know, I manage to stay pretty busy, I'm always on the go! And I would walk away from those conversations feeling inadequate, like I needed to go stay busier and have more to talk about. Busy is successful, right? In the United States, busyness is a measure of success - hence the soccer mom. Success is driving an expensive vehicle, with your 2 or 3 kids all involved in separate activities, dad works full time for a boss he can't stand, mom works part time and runs the kids all over town to this, that, or the other thing, kids are on the honor roll and have a sports scholarship to a major university, and no-one sees or talks to each other because they're only together in the car, where everyone is on the phone or texting. That is American success. I don't 'bout y'all, but that's not how I want my life to look :) So, I've adjusted my responses. I don't try to fill up the blank spots so much. When I was little, I got used to the blank stares when I said I didn't know what grade I was in. Blank stares are part of being different. If I have the opportunity to explain the path I've chosen, I will. But if not, I'm going to bend to an artificial standard of busyness. If you're single, find something to be thankful for, find a way to love where you are, because the Lord has you there for a reason. Use this time to study His Word more. Don't waste the time wishing you were somewhere else! You'll miss all the great moments and lessons, which means you'll just have to learn them later on. Singleness doesn't have to be a dirty word or a loathsome state of being :) P.S. kudos to anyone who can tell me which book the title references...

No comments:

Post a Comment