I subscribe to Relevant Magazine, and I read an articlethis morning entitled, “Plan B, or C, or D: Can You Trust God When Trusting Isn’t Easy?” I read a quote I wanted to share (actually quoted from another book):
Clowns are not the center of the events. They appear between the great acts, fumble and fall, and make us smile again after the tensions created by the heroes we came to admire. The clowns don’t have it together, they do not succeed in what they try to do, they are awkward, out of balance, and left handed, but they are on our side. We respond to them not with admiration but with sympathy, not with amazement but with understanding, not with tension but with a smile. The Church today is full of lion tamers and trapeze artists whose dazzling feats claim our attention and elicit our applause – yet what the Kingdom so desperately needs is more clowns.
-Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome
When a big transition looms in front of me, I am always tempted to look too much behind me and too far ahead of me. (I have issues with anxiety…can you tell?) For example, I am tempted to look back at the past two years, at the place I’ve spent most of my time: work. Now that I am leaving it, I start to wonder: did I make the most of it? Did I squeeze every possible thing I could out of that life experience? What can I add to my resume? Can I say I was a ‘trapeze artist’ or a master of my job title, or can I look back and say, I accomplished this and this and this while at that job? And typically, if I can’t nail down some specific things (some BIG specific things), I’ll feel I wasted it.
On the other hand, I also begin to fret about the future. Once our Heidi arrives in August, I will be a stay-at-home mom. While this has always been a dream of mine (I used to get mad when “stay-at-home-mom” wasn’t on those career aptitude tests we took all the time in high school), I still feel this need to make a list of all the reasons why I will be great at this. I want to feel validated and ready and like this is the most natural thing for me to do. I want to make a list of things that make me perfect for this…things that will guarantee I won’t stumble as much as I am afraid I will.
(I know lots of mommies probably laughed at that last sentence.)
I think this is whyI like the quote so much. It reminds me that I am not what I do. If I can’t look back over the past two years and cite a big promotion or award or accomplishment, that doesn’t mean those years were for nothing. I have met (and keep friendships with) some amazing people, I had some fun doing it, and I learned quite a bit…not only about my industry but about committing to something you’re not sure of for a long span of time. Something funny happens when you commit to succeeding at something: people help you out. You really do find your footing. You really do get back up and learn after having stumbled through quite a bit. And you find out things about yourself in the process you otherwise may have never discovered.
Once I know this, I can look to the future and relax. I don’t need to be the perfect mom. I don’t need to have it all together. I don’t need every wall of the nursery painted, all the BEST baby stuff, or all the latest advice and warnings and tips written down in a place I can see them every day. I don’t need to make sure I have the smartest kid, the most athletic kid, the most talented kid, the cutest kid (that last part I am sure will happen on its own…hehe). What Heidi NEEDS is for her mom and dad to love her the best they can. I will mess up and get frustrated and stumble my way around, quite possibly for Heidi’s whole life (ha). But I’ve actually learned the most from other moms who were honest with me about the struggles…the moms who weren’t afraid to be clowns while letting me know how difficult it can be. But every single one of them said that the joy of the process is more than worth the hard times.
I won’t find joy by constantly seeking to make a list of why I should be happy with myself. I think once I stop wanting to be a trapeze artist or a lion tamer, and start just being who I am, doing the best I can, then neither the past nor the future will bother me because I am too busy enjoying today.