In our early dating days, David and I took full advantage of working just down the hall from each other. Lunches, when we could afford the time (and quick coffee breaks when we couldn’t), often found us in Capitol Park. We’d walk to a group of benches far away from the building where we could hold hands and talk without too many lobbyists or legislators passing by.
“I’m often eager to know exactly where I’m going in life,” David confessed one afternoon when a breather from a hectic day took a philosophical turn. “But I’ve found God only makes things clear to me one step at a time.”
“Mmmm,” I mumbled, secretly thankful my mouth was full of the cookie I had purchased from the bakery across the street, allowing me to mask the slight terror flooding my type-A mind. Who doesn’t have the next five steps of their life planned?
“How does that affect your ability to make decisions?”
“Each time there is a big step to take, God gives me faith to make it. But he withholds what comes after that,” David continued. “I just have to be faithful in what God has given me to do right now, in this step, and trust that he will let me know when it is time for the next step.”
Having swallowed the last bite of cookie, I had nothing to hide behind.
“I think it’s great you have so much faith,” I ventured. “Thankfully God doesn’t work with me that way. I’m too much of a planner; I always know what’s coming next.”
I glanced over at my phone as I put the last swipe of peanut butter on Ellie’s sandwich. A notification for my personal email flashed across the screen with a subject line about termination paperwork. “That’s obviously a mistake,” I murmured to myself.
The guestroom door popped open and David, three months into full-time working from home, ventured out to make his lunch.
I met him with a furrowed brow, “I just got a weird email from work that I’m pretty sure wasn’t meant for me. Can you watch the girls for a second?”
I ran into what used to be my workspace before the pandemic, pushed David’s paper’s aside, and opened my laptop.
“WHAT?” I shrieked.
The company I worked for had plans to move my part-time, remote position out of state.
My mind raced. I could almost physically feel the goals we made over New Year’s slip through my fingers. The ones we carefully crafted with naive excitement, before we knew 2020 would be the year to end all years.
I had done well so far. The pandemic, stay-at-home orders, everything closing, food flying off the shelves, my mom and mother-in-law simultaneously fighting cancer through all of it. I had handled myself just fine. But this? This broke me.
I was at my worst, anxiety gripping so tight I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
I attempted to assuage the feeling by powering through with brute force – using my own two hands to pry each metaphorical finger from around my midsection. When that didn’t make me feel better, I withdrew far into myself.
Then, one day, came the still, silent knowing.
*Just breathe. You don’t know what comes next, but I do.*
“I thought these matched your Christmas décor and would look beautiful hanging in a window,” my mom said when I opened a set of Christmas-themed antique glass pendants.
At the time, we lived in a 1920s duplex that came with charm and gorgeous built-ins, but also a landlord who didn’t care enough to keep the dense landscaping trimmed away from the original windows. Our apartment had very little natural light.
I decided to use the pendants as ornaments on our Christmas tree instead and while the colorful strand lights didn’t show off their full beauty the way light streaming through a window would, it was a fine alternative.
We haven’t lived in that duplex for three Christmases now, but I have continued placing the pendants on our Christmas tree. This year, as I was unpacking our boxes of decorations, long-stifled inspiration finally hit, and they found a new home hanging from the gorgeous picture window in our living room.
I find myself staring at them often. There’s that slow stretch of time when we are done with breakfast but haven’t quite gotten ready for the day yet. Giggles come from imaginary worlds sprawled across our floor while the pendants sparkle in the mid-morning light. Then there’s the evenings when their soft glow catches my eye as I step away from making dinner to check on the girls watching Daniel Tiger.
You see, this house is a next step I didn’t see coming. The result of a series of events that worked together so perfectly, in my mind they can only be God’s leading.
The very thing that used to scare me now serves as my lifeline during this season of so much hopelessness. The waiting on bated breath, wondering what step God will give me the faith and bravery to take next.
I think about a dark, cramped duplex where I yearned for a bright, airy space that better met our family’s needs, painfully aware I couldn’t make it happen with my own strength. I think about being powerless to stop the loss of a job I loved and the refinement that came next. I think about the twenty-something version of myself sitting on a bench, unwilling to face the idea of not being in complete control over my own life.
We don’t know what is to come, but he does. This is the tension of where we sit. It’s a mystery that makes life hard and thrilling; it’s a warm comfort that makes it safe and beautiful.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Tethered to Hope”.