Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{standing and waiting}

There's a poem I read recently. John Milton, great and aspiring genius poet, wrote it after becoming blind and grappling with what matters in this life. I picture him, in darkness literal and figurative, wondering what use he could be in his altered state. I imagine him dealing with the doubts inherent in being human and having faith. I particularly love the last line and have meditated on it often over the past few weeks since New Years.


WHEN I consider how my light is spent
  E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
  And that one Talent which is death to hide,
  Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present         5
  My true account, least he returning chide,
  Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
  I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
  Either man's work or his own gifts, who best  10
  Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
  And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
  They also serve who only stand and waite.

I've meditated, too, on two particular Bl Teresa of Kolkatta quotes. 

"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."
"We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love."

See, I've been praying and praying and praying, running circles in my head thinking about my various  aspirations in life. I tend to do that frequently anyway, but the tendency to overthink really goes into overdrive around New Years. I think about what I've done, what I've failed to do. What I've yet to do. And what's really important in all this, anyway?

The truth is, I've softened when it comes to so many of my ambitions over the last five years. I wanted to be a lawyer! I wanted to work hard and reap the fruits of my labor, I wanted to give myself wholly to my career. I never had any wish to marry or have children. I feel a bit woozy thinking about how God's hand spun my ambition around and turned it on its head. I, who wanted the drama and glamour of post[ing] o're Land and Ocean without rest, was given a different lot.

It's been a tough lesson, because I've spent at least the past two years supporting my husband's medical school endeavors and wondering "when will we put MY career goals first?" Without realizing that that was the wrong question altogether. Then I had a baby and still wondered. When, God? Researching graduate school prerequisites and curricula had become a part time obsession. Dreaming of marching into the classroom again, neat little rows of pens and pencils and my favorite notebooks at hand, our toy-strewn home left behind for the sake of my lofty educational goals.

This New Years, he finally whispered in the words of Milton. They also serve who stand and wait.

Ah! ...Stand.... Wait. That doesn't sound very ambitious.

Maybe it's not. Maybe it looks a lot like reading the same books to Margot over and over again. Maybe it looks like being unnaturally proud of myself for keeping our monthly grocery budget at a tightwad level of low. Maybe it looks like talking on the phone for hours with my mom, who recently told me I'm one of her best friends. Maybe it looks like more or less constant imperfect prayer, squeezed into the day. Saying, "Lord, have mercy" when my dear sweet baby refuses to sleep again. Baking bread, going on long walks, washing the dishes. Writing this post. Maybe it looks like forgetting about the earthly ambition stuff. Like relinquishing control.

This year, I'm resolved to do that. The small things I do matter, as much as they do look like standing and waiting to the outside world. There is so much I want to do in this lifetime, and I'll never not be jealous of Brendan's call to GO! and DO! and be a doctor as well as a husband and father. I struggle with wondering if perhaps God is holding out on me and I have some super awesome mission to fulfill here. But this year, He has finally succeeded in knocking it into my stubborn head that this season is about nothing more and nothing less than Love. Which is super awesome in and of itself, when I stop and think about it.  

The rest of the story  hasn't been written yet, but I trust in Him. I do. And even if I never do fulfill any super impressive God ordained mission to save the world's orphans or whatever... I have my mission. Right here. Bouncing around in my lap, screaming for a nap, and generally driving me equal parts love sick and batty. 

Margot Jane, 11 months old. She's grown a bit since I last posted, eh? ;)


  1. That little face... so thoughtful. And yes she has grown!! ~ Country Girl's Daybook, recently posted: #whywemarch

    1. She does look thoughtful. And she is! But here she was actually being mischievous :)

  2. Ahhhhh! She's so big. She can stand and wait with you!

    1. Almost one! And standing! Yes. I'm extremely late giving you my blog congratulations on new baby Lulu, but congrats! She's gorgeous. :)

  3. In Seattle, it's extremely rare to have kids in your early twenties, it seems. So everyone I meet is either pursuing their career or already did that for several years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I love being a homemaker and I'm very thankful to be doing what I love, but sometimes I just feel *so* boring when people ask me what I did before having kids and I can only say that I was a nanny for a year.

    I know I see her on Instagram all the time but, wow, she really has gotten so big all of a sudden!!

    1. You know, that's an excellent point! Most of the mothers I'm meeting *are* in their thirties or forties and have established careers or whatever. It does have the effect of making me feel lame/boring! Because, like you, I "just" nannied for two years after college. No other lifechanging record breaking experiences. haha! I don't necessarily love staying home, but I do love being with Margot all the time and knowing that I'm doing what's best for her. I definitely think that when my kids are of a certain age, I'll pursue part time work just to mix it up. :)

  4. Love everything about this post ~ especially the picture!! Caitlin is just figuring out the standing thing.


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