Thursday, December 9, 2010

Great Expectations

The other day (was it only yesterday?) I wrote about life not always working out as one expects it to.   Do you ever look back on the teenage you and remember what you thought life would be like?  I don't often do that, but when I do dare to look that girl in the mirror, I see how much life differs from those early assumptions and expectations.

Life is very, very complicated.
  • My little sister was never supposed to get cancer as she did twenty months ago.  No, no, no.  The C word might be commonplace elsewhere in the world, but please God, no, not in my little sister.  Helplessness, not being able to fix what ailed her, was not something I could have predicted.
  • I thought I'd have at least a few kids by now, and I would have envisioned the youngest of them to be at least ten years old by the time I reached my current age.  I never anticipated that, at age forty-four, I'd run into members of my old graduating class and learn that they had children who were already married.  
  • My brother is no longer with my sister-in-law, the mother of my three oldest nephews.  It's been a couple of years already, but I still marvel in a head-shaking kind of way that I never saw that coming.  Though I know these things happen every day in our world, when it becomes part of my microcosm, it seems somehow different.  A paradigm shift.  I get that life moves on, and that I will invariably roll with the tide...but that doesn't mean that it's without sadness, and without grief for what what's been lost.
  • I almost lost my own marriage not that many years back.  Mistakes, big ones, were made by both of us, and we just about went under.  I would never have anticipated that when I was that idealistic teen committed to the notion of eternal love, or the thirty-something woman who still wanted to believe that Mr. Darcy (*) really should exist out there somewhere.  Who knew at nineteen that marriage was so much work at times?  Geoff and I are doing great now, but I never would have guessed what it would take to get us to this point.
  • In my late teens, I thought I'd go to university and study to work as a teacher.  Several years later, when I was in my second year of law school, the thought of being a teacher came on so powerfully again that I actually registered in the university's education faculty and audited classes for a couple of months (alongside my law classes!) to see if I would like it.  Unfortunately, I discovered that it felt too late to 'go back' to old plans, and so I left it alone and pursued a different path.  Ultimately, years later, when I began working as a mediator, I felt (and still do) that I had finally found a role that worked for me at every level - I love this work, and feel competent in it.  But oddly,  I never quite lost the feeling that I was meant to teach.  And...well...guess what??  This is my second year h/schooling my child and there are many days when I wish I'd had the benefit of teacher's college!  Life is such an irony, isn't it?  Nice to know God has a sense of humour, 'cause I've come around full circle!
  • And speaking of h/schooling, I would never have envisioned h/educating my child(ren) either.  Fat chance of that happening!  Top-grade private school, likely; bilingual school, possibly; home school, never.  And yet here I am, day after day, cheerfully slogging it out, trying to teach my child not only the academia that he requires, but the character and maturity that it will take for him to grow into a godly, independent, wholly-functioning man.  Check back with me in about fifteen years and we'll see how this one turns out!
  • Frankly, I didn't envision living in this mosquito-infested-every-summer, icy-cold-in-the-winter city either.  I thought I'd be long out of here.  In fact, I was out of here for all of about fifteen years, and quite happily so, but somehow the roots I'd buried early in life kept pulling me back.  Rats.  Who would have pictured that?  Not me.
I'm thinking that some of the above must sound rather gloomy.  I don't mean it that way, actually.  But perhaps I'm waxing a bit sentimental these days...looking back at things I took for granted would shape my life.   The truth of the matter is that if things had worked out entirely as I'd have anticipated, I'd have missed out on other things...a profession I love; maybe a different husband than the one I love very much; my six-year-old child...and the children whose faces we are only now becoming acquainted with.  Things do seem to get more complicated as I get older, and I wonder how I will teach my children the necessary resilience to withstand the blows when things don't work out exactly as they, too, will expect them to.  Certainly the academic stuff that I will teach them won't help them with this.  It can only be the living out of their lives' unique plan with faith and courage that will enable them to adapt to the things in life that they won't be able to predict or control...and understanding that the God who knows every hair that grows on their heads also has a plan their future...whatever that turns out to be.

(*) From Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice


  1. Great post Ruth. Today I came across Proverbs 16:9.
    I love your heart!

  2. This is a nice reflection. I too am living a life very different than the one I would have expected. Can you believe I wanted to be a forensic psychiatrist?!

  3. I think we all would have to say this. I'm still convinced that life is much better/richer lived than we ever imagined...when we do the large picture glance instead of the monthly slogging...

    (who is this crazy reflective person... it must be late!)