Sunday, April 15, 2012

Home again

This weekend we took Jonathan on a college visit to Laura's college.

It was fun. I had been looking forward to it. I love to see Laura, and I love her school.

Whilst promenading around the beautiful campus, sniffing fresh mulch around spring flowers, appreciating the tiny new leaves, gazing from the bridge across the creek to the beautifully manicured athletic fields, I can never help but wonder. I wonder how my life would have been different had I gone to a small, private Christian college instead of to a state university with a student body of 60,000.

The road not taken.

It probably doesn't do to think on such things. It might even be a sin.

We used to joke about how we are a family of introverts, and how poor Jonathan was withering among us, the lone extrovert. Then Lulubelle up and went off to college and discovered that she is an extrovert, too.

I see her taking on leadership roles, working on committees, developing networks of friends. She makes decisions and owns them. She manages her life all on her own (but her dad still does her taxes). Her support system, which is wide, does not necessarily include me anymore.

I sat in her dorm room and looked around at the pictures on the walls (largely beaches), the Bible verses on notecards she has pinned over her bed, the accessories hanging from Command hooks on the walls, the closet full of clothes (most hers, some borrowed). I tried to imagine myself at that age, living in that environment. I felt a little bit sick.

I see the person she is becoming, someone I hardly know sometimes, and the friendships she is enjoying, and I wonder if I would have been a different person if I had gone to a different college. Maybe I would have been more outgoing, more courageous, more optimistic, more social.

Maybe, maybe not.

I have to trust that God worked in my circumstances to form me into the person He wanted me to be. I have to believe this for myself and for all of my family.

It can be easy to think that one mistake can ruin your life forever and always, that if you don't get everything just exactly right, you will miss God's best plan for your life. It is easy to sink into feelings of guilt and fear and regret.

But then you need to ask yourself these questions: Do you or do you not believe that God is sovereign? Is God in control? Does God keep His promises?

I do believe that God is sovereign. He is in control of everything. He is all-powerful. Nothing can thwart His eternal plans.

Not even me, making a "wrong" choice.

God's word says that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

All things work together for good. That means that I should never look at my life and think, "I am missing out on God's blessings because I made the wrong decision about __(fill in the blank)__ thirty-odd years ago."

Because God does keep His promises. If He said it, you can bank on it.

Strange that this is what I wrote. I was going to write about an experience at the breakfast buffet at the Hampton Inn where we stayed, something dumb that just stuck in my head, images and words.

An overly friendly lady saw me plopping some runny gray oatmeal into my paper bowl. "Oatmeal!" she said. "I have oatmeal every day. Today I thought I'd go out on a limb and live a little, try something different!"

I rarely eat oatmeal for breakfast. I pretty much despise it. But I try really hard to stay away from simple carbs, white flour and white sugar. And the scrambled eggs in the warming pan looked like they came from a carton. I was just trying to find something to eat that wouldn't leave me with an all-day belly ache. I wanted to tell her, "I eat a kefir smoothie and a piece of whole grain toast with sunbutter every morning, but they clearly don't have that here, so this is my next best option." Instead, I said nothing. I didn't know what to say. It was early, and I am neither a morning person nor an extrovert.

Also, I don't generally consider hotel breakfast buffets as an opportunity to treat myself in life and "live a little." If I wanted a breakfast treat, I would go somewhere I could order what I wanted off a menu, cooked fresh and not served on paper plates with plastic spoons, forks and knives.

And I wonder who I am, who I am becoming? Do I live, or do I just survive, trying my best to coddle along my aching shoulders and fussy digestion in hopes of avoiding as much discomfort as possible?

It is very tempting to think that I missed something long ago that I am paying for now. This is a battle I face, probably almost daily.

I pray God to show me what He wants from me, to strengthen me with the fortitude to complete it, to fill me with joy. I pray God to help me trust in His promises and to believe that He is able to shape me into the woman He wants me to be.


Shawn said...

Well, you'd have met and married someone else. What a shame that would have been.

ruth said...

Well, maybe not. I believe we both applied to and were accepted at Wheaton. What if we'd've both gone there and met there instead?

Shawn said...

We'd have had a great education and probably a very good college experience. And been much deeper in debt than we were. (Or at least my education expenses would have put us in debt. You would probably have had outstanding scholarships there as well.)

But point well taken--God always accomplishes His purposes, no matter how much control we think we have in our decision-making.

ruth said...

More debt probably would have meant a different timeline for us after college... which probably would have meant different kids. I'm glad we have the kids we got.