Life has been pretty messy lately. And by messy, I’m not referring to messes of the spit up/drooling/diaper explosion variety (although those, too, have been pretty plentiful of late!). I’m talking about life itself—the daily tasks, decisions, and circumstances of my current life that haven’t really been the Instagram-able, Pinterest-perfect moments I would like for them to be. My world right now is not exactly worthy of a glossy magazine spread, and that reality is hitting me pretty hard.
I suppose life with a baby is bound to be a bit ragged around the edges. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being Charlie’s mom, and feel particularly blessed that I am able to stay home with him. But as I shared last month, there are aspects of motherhood that have been surprisingly difficult. Lately, the biggest challenge for me has been coming to terms with how quickly time seems to be moving. There are never enough minutes in the day to savor the precious memories and moments, or to fully embrace and appreciate each milestone and stage, because just as we begin to adjust to a new phase, things change. As ridiculous as it sounds, I struggle to rejoice as I watch my baby grow because each new development also marks the end of a different era.
Watching Charlie grow up has also brought an incredible amount of anxiety as I look to the future: what if I don’t enjoy or can’t handle each “next stage”? I carried these fears with me throughout pregnancy and Charlie’s earliest months, and they consistently proved to be unfounded—each phase has actually been easier and better than the last! But we have some big hurdles ahead of us: introducing solids, crawling, walking(!). . . they will all be such big changes, and they have me a bit nervous! These anxieties, coupled with a lack of sleep, have taken their toll, both emotionally and physically. Nutrition has been hard as well: breastfeeding, while very rewarding, has quite literally drained me of my physical reserves, and I’m struggling to eat enough to keep up with Charlie’s needs. Exclusively breastfeeding a baby while navigating an eating disorder is not for the faint of heart, and it’s something that I didn’t realize was going to be so difficult. (For the record, Charlie is growing just fine, it’s my own body that is bearing the brunt of the burden.)
Beyond just adjusting to motherhood, life has thrown us a few additional curveballs over the last month. When Luke was offered a job in San Diego, it seemed as though God was making it clear that that was where He wanted us to be: Luke hadn’t even been looking for a new job, so when he received an offer for a higher-paying job in a city he loved, all signs seemed to indicate that accepting the new position was the right decision for our family. But then we began running into roadblocks: it turned out that renting a house in the area was going to be a lot more expensive than we had anticipated, particularly since we were in a time crunch and couldn’t hold out for a great deal. We did find a couple of homes that we loved and would have worked well for us, but with both places, our applications were denied in favor of candidates who had applied just hours ahead of us. We have excellent credit and a decent income, so we’d never been denied for a home before, making those rejections a particularly hard pill to swallow.
When Luke’s current company heard he was planning on leaving, they incentivized him to stay by offering to let him work remotely. Luke has always wanted the option to work from home, and we love the idea of not having a job tying us down to a particular geographic location. This new opportunity, coupled with our lack of house-hunting success in San Diego, led us to change courses: after a whole lot of praying, pro/con list-making, and conversations with mentors, Luke and I decided he should turn down the San Diego job. It was the toughest decision we’ve had to make as a couple, and we’re still not sure if we made the right move, but we are working to let go of the could-have-beens and focusing instead on our future.
Which leads us to the present. We now have the option of living ANYWHERE we want. We also aren’t tied to a lease, and our current landlord is willing to let us stay for as long as it takes to find a place that’s the best fit. It’s an incredible gift, but also a bit overwhelming. There are so many factors to consider and priorities to weigh. We think we’d eventually like to end up back in Southern California, but for now we feel it would be smartest to relocate to somewhere with a lower cost of living so that we can spend a few years paying off student loans and saving up to buy a house. Last weekend we headed to Arizona to scout out our options there; we’re still not totally set on that location, but it does have a lot of what we’re looking for: it’s a relatively inexpensive place to live, it’s only a day’s drive from family and friends here in Southern California, and it has a climate that I know I will love. But is it the best option? We just don’t know yet.
I’ve never done well with shadowy plans and an uncertain future. I wish that I could let go of my anxieties about what is to come, and simply accept this gift of being able to take our time in choosing a new home. And I long to be a mom who can fully appreciate her child for who he is NOW, instead of worrying about what he will be like in the coming months. But it’s hard for me to embrace the present when the future is so unknown.
As I was thinking about this post, and struggling to come up with a positive take-away for it all, the words “messy imperfection” kept flowing through my mind. I began to realize that the reason life feels heavy right now (when on the surface, at least, it’s actually pretty amazing) is simply that it isn’t perfect. My future, my emotions, my decisions—they’re messy. And for someone who has spent a lifetime battling the ugly beast of perfectionism, that’s not an easy thing to accept. I hate that I’m not a perfect mom, that I don’t have perfect health or a perfect home, and that I don’t have a perfect plan for the future. Above all, I hate that I even desire for those things to be perfect! It was with these thoughts bouncing around in my head that I turned to Jesus Calling last weekend. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read these words:
“I [Jesus] have carefully mapped out every inch of your journey through this day, even though much of it may feel haphazard. Because the world is in a fallen condition, things always seem to be unraveling around the edges. Expect to find trouble in this day. At the same time, trust that My way is perfect, even in the midst of such messy imperfection.”
Ironically, this message about imperfection could not have been more perfect. These words were exactly what I needed to hear: though my future might seem fuzzy, I can find rest in the knowledge that to God, it is perfectly clear. I might not be able to handle life’s messiness, but He certainly can, and He wants to walk with me through these murky moments. My default setting is to try to handle my anxieties on my own, but God is not only capable of taking over, He is infinitely more qualified. And so, as much as I hate to sit in this messy imperfection, I’m embracing this opportunity to walk hand-in-hand with God as TOGETHER we pave the path into the future, whatever it may hold.