LESSONS I'M LEARNING THE HARD WAY
“One of the true hazards of writing is that you yearn to write deeply honest things that rise up from lessons learned the hard way… then you have to learn those lessons the hard way.”
~ Shauna Neiquist in Cold Tangerines
This week I have been unpacking. A little early perhaps, as Firwood Cottage is not move-in ready just yet, but life does not wait and I’ve got things to accomplish. And so I pad about in stocking feet on a floor still hardening, trying to figure what to do with Too-Much-Stuff.
Which leads me to worrying. Where will I put it all? What should I get rid of? Those dishes I’ve had since our early years that I still like but don’t need? That pine hutch that takes up so much space and sticks out so far into a room too small but would be perfect for our too-big TV.?
I ask Phil.
Eyeing my too-big stack of pie pans waiting on the kitchen counter for a place to live, he answers honestly, “You don’t need pie pans. You don’t bake pies, Di.”
And just that fast I’m ruffled and annoyed and ready for combat. Because, you see, Phil’s mom made pies, and so did mine. Delicious, memory-making, mouth-watering pies: rhubarb, French apple, Boston cream, cherry- with real, straight-from-the-tree, pitted-one-at-a-time cherries.
Real women make pies.
And now I’m not worrying about my too-much-stuff anymore, now I’m feeling my identity crumble the way my once-upon-a-time pie crusts did. Before I stopped making pies.
I live with an image of who I wish I were, of the woman I want to be: The woman with a perfectly ironed apron tied around her perfectly tiny waist, pulling a perfect pie out of her perfectly clean oven to feed her perfect family in her perfectly tidy-all-the-time house.
And then I look at me. Covered in dust from pulling boxes out of a disastrously dirty garage. Disheveled and discombobulated over too much stuff with a mind that can’t stop writing words when really I should be figuring this out.
And I don’t make pies.
Which I could excuse away if I could just keep my house perfect, but I can’t… or at least I don’t.
I want to, you see, but I live with two big men who live big lives.
My son, saving for his future, rushing off each morning, returning late every night, building, dreaming, doing, working… and messing up my tidy little house.
And Phil, that man I love, the one who reminds me that I don’t make pies— whose list is always too long and whose life is always too full. The one who dreams big dreams and packs life tight and invites me to join him in his journey.
How in the world am I going to live in this little house with two big men… and their piles of Too-Much-Stuff? Too not-very-tidy men whose image of who they are is not in the least tied to how perfectly kept this house is.
I go to sleep under the itchy wool of all my worries, waking up wound tight, uptight. It is dark, rain washing the coming day like those German hausfraus of my growing up years, who scrubbed the front step first thing every single morning, their own beauty all caught up in the cracked concrete.
Is that me?
Do I really believe this house is too small? Or is it just right? In our budget, with room to spare— for being generous, for living free. Just the right size for doing life different, the way God is calling us, the way we are longing to live in this fun, no-pie-baking chapter of our lives together.
For this former ugly-house to become home, our home— home for my two messy men and me— a woman learning to be who I am, learning to let go of who I am not— I am going to have to do more than unpack a few boxes. In fact, in order for Firwood cottage to become a place of rest and refuge, a place for refreshment and fun and good times, I am going to need to hang on to truths I know, but too soon forget.
- That real women aren’t perfect.
- That real women don’t expect perfection from themselves or those they love.
- That real women aren’t afraid to let go of the past because they’re so excited about future hope, they hardly notice old glories.
- That real women always make room for more life.
And that, my dear girls, is what living my life “hid in Christ” is looking like right now.
Messy, confusing, satisfying, exhilarating, daring, unconventional, and clinging close to the One who promises to finish this project of remaking me into a real woman.
And so, I ask you the questions that woke me up this morning:
Can we… women fitting ourselves tight in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91), learn to be who we are by simply coming in close to who He is?
Can we… women of such worth, such intrinsic value, (Matthew 6:19-34) stop trying to be perfect in order to learn to be holy? Wholly His, caught up in Him? Lost in His perfection?
Can we... women set free, (Galatians 5:13-15) give others room to become who they are? Letting go of tidy theories, those expectations that tie them tight and choke the life out of every one of us?
Can we live large and small at the same time?
From my heart,
P.S. Are you like me? Do you cling to an image of who you wish you were but in honest moments, realize you’re not? And that, indeed, you’re not meant to be?
Please grace us with your stories, your wisdom, your struggles… we learn from each other…
P.S.S. I gave my pile of pie pans to a friend who makes pies…