When I had a toddler and a baby and someone asked me what I did, it took me quite a while – as in years – to look them in the eye without answering, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Just. Just?! My days were consumed with taking care of and loving my children and making my house a home and working on my marriage and leading the women’s ministry at church and being a good friend. JUST? Why was I ashamed? Did I not think that pouring into the care and nurture of two little human beings and my home and my husband was worthy? Why was it not enough in my estimation?
I was on staff for a few years at church but now I’m back to being a full-time stay-at-home mom to two teenagers but when someone asks me what I do now, why do I still – after twelve years of doing this! – still struggle and sometimes say, “I’m just a writer and a speaker.” Just. Just?! In the past twelve years, I have written eight books (five published, one published to Kindle, one that will never see the light of day, one that I’m hoping will find a publishing home sooner rather than never) and I have spoken probably over a hundred and fifty times. JUST? Why am I ashamed? Do I think that because I don’t drive to some random office and do work that I hate and instead stay at home and do work that I deeply love that it’s not worthy? Why is it not enough in my estimation?
I’ve used the word just over the years like I’m swearing, or like a tool of shame, mumbling the words that come after it in whispers and with averted eyes. But recently on my way home after dropping my kids off, I said, outloud, to no one but Jesus and myself, “What if I actually started to believe that my divorce is just part of my story as opposed to the moment where everything went completely askew?” Just. Just?! Just part of my story? Not the day where I sort of ruined everything and left God in the lurch wondering what to do with me, scrambling for the architect plans of my life with a huge eraser in one hand and a pencil in the other.
I have a friend who has a lovely saying, “God will play the ball where it lies.” I love this so much. It takes so much pressure off of me to do just the right thing, as if there’s really just one right thing in every moment. But more importantly, it reminds me that God is so, so much bigger than me and my mistakes and missteps.
Now, I know, this can be dangerous thinking. I get that. Because there was a part of me that thought immediately of the story a friend told me of a college girl finding out she was pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption. Was that baby a mistake? Hmmm…see where it becomes a sticky wicket? Yes, we in the Christian faith believe that the Bible says that sex is for marriage and that therefore, had she not made that choice, there would be no baby. And yet, doesn’t God also pretty much imply that he kind of knows everything and is in control? I don’t think all babies born out of wedlock are like all these extra people he didn’t account for and he’s trying to figure out what to do with them, just sort of fitting them into already progressing stories like extras or understudies in a play.
I don’t know. I don’t know really how all this works. And I don’t know the implications of my shift in thinking globally or theologically, but I do know the implication personally and spiritually. Because if I could really – like deep in my bones really – believe that my divorce didn’t ruin my life but instead is just one of the things that has happened in my life and that is shaping me and is part of how I’m going to tell the story of redemption through my life, I think I might sit up a little taller, and I think I might be able to look people in the eye and let my gaze linger a little longer.
And I think, just just maybe could become my friend again, and I think I just might let God play the ball where it lies, and be grateful I’m even in the game.