The Art of the Long Way Round

It had been a rough morning. Babies up way too early and mama with way too little sleep. Preschool didn’t start for another 45 minutes and it’s only a three minute drive so I did what any sanity lovin’ mama would do and I put the four year old and the baby in the car so that there would be peace. I calmly explained to my preschool aged daughter that we were going to preschool but we were going to take the long way because it was still too early to arrive and it would soothe her baby brother to sleep.

The four year old heard exactly zero of what I said. She was probably talking to her stuffed cat or looking in her car seat’s cup holder for the left over lollipop from the day before, but whatever the case she heard nothing I said about our trajectory for the next 45 minutes. As I turned out of our neighborhood, right instead of our normal left to go to school, onto the road, blood curdling screams echoed from the backseat. I slammed on brakes and whirled my head around to face my daughter. This was the conversation that ensued:

Mama: What on earth?!?!?!?!?!

Child Who Has Lost Her Mind: (said through guttural sobs) I WANT TO GO TO PRESCHOOL!!!!!

Mama: You ARE going to preschool! Did you hear what I said? We’re taking the long way so your brother can sleep. You won’t be late. It’s too early to go now. CALM.DOWN.

(Conversation continues until all is well…kind of)

I eased my foot off of the brakes and as the wheels of the car turned so did my mind. My child couldn’t wrap her mind around where we were going. All she knew is mama was going the wrong way for where she wanted, expected, longed to go.

Do you see it? That metaphor hanging heavy between God’s plan and your own. I saw it like a 2×4 coming to hit me straight between the eyes as I wound my Subaru through snake like backroads soothing my baby boy to rest.

I want a B-line for the good stuff. I want a straight shot to my hopes and dreams. I want tidiness and checked boxes.

There is a heavy dose of disillusionment that I live with these days. I love motherhood. I love where I live. I love my husband. It’s the space in between all of those things that I don’t love. The space in between is all the other stuff. The dreams I still have. The hopes I still hold. The things I lie awake at night wondering about.

Will I write that book? Will our finances ever be secure? Will we go back to the field? Will we have another baby? I want answers and I want them now. I want to know the hopes planted in my heart will grow to fruition and I want to know in the dormancy something really is going on.

Lately I’ve been downright obsessed with A Ballerina’s Tale the documentary about Misty Copeland the first African American principle ballerina for a major ballet company. I never took dance as a child, but I have always been stunned by the grace and power of a gifted dancer. Misty is powerful and precise and mesmerizing to watch. I never cease to be amazed at a ballet dancer on pointe.

How can a life balance on so little? It is pure art. The same is with the winding road of uncertainty. Trusting God feels razor thin. It feels like so much risk to believe that all the curves and questions really are heading to a good end.

The other night before bed my husband asked me quite simply if I am happy. The question sounded so strange and I paused long before I answered. It’s not that I don’t believe in happiness, but at this stage in my life it seems fleeting. The washing machine breaks with a whole load of diapers in it. A stomach bug ripples through the family and throws our whole week, heck, our whole month off. I’d say I’m often not happy, but, wait for it, I’m often finding joy and hope in the cracks of it all.

No, life isn’t a straight line to our hopes and dreams. At least that has not been my experience. It’s more like dancing on pointe, splattering a canvas with wild colors, writing a War and Peace size novel, carving a piece of Sitka Spruce to perfection. The process is long. There are times when you think you’ll never get there. The picture will never be complete. God’s work in your will never be done, not till your last breath if you believe He is faithful to do it. But there is hope and Jesus and a Calvary cry that it was and IS finished. Maybe if we dare to believe Jesus we’ll be able to just settle in and enjoy the ride. Maybe art is daring to believe a completed work will be there in the end.

Are you taking the “long way round”? What work in your life are you struggling to trust God will complete?

8 Comments

  1. Jenn Ott March 14, 2016

    Oh,  yes!   As we are only 6 months into this overseas gig (not to mention the 18 months of crazy before we left for the field), and NOTHING is going according to plan,  i feel like a Hebrew leaving Egypt.   The route looked direct,  but God took them what seemed the most difficult way (en before they refused to enter the promised land).  Seriously,  why?!

    I hear God’s voice in my head,  asking,  “Still.   Do you trust Me still? ”  It’s not a test.   It’s trusting that the God who loves me leads the long way for my good and other’s blessing.   Even while I protest like a preschooler in the backseat ;).

     

    1. Amy Young March 14, 2016

      Jenn, I love this! “It’s not a test, it’s about trusting.”

    2. Monica F March 15, 2016

      I love your comment, “it’s not a test…it’s trusting”.  I wish I had thought that way a lot more at the beginning of my career overseas.  I worried a lot about passing ‘the tests’ and it drove me toward anxiety and worry; the ‘being worthy’.  Praying for you as you ‘settle into’ your new environment and Trust the ONE who has taken you there.

    3. Michele Womble March 15, 2016

      I love that, too (“it’s not a test, it’s trusting..”)  Also REALLY love that you said “for my good and other’s blessing”   Sometimes when I want to ask God “why are we taking this route?” his answer may be “well, you see, there’s this person that I love…who’ll never know me – (or, whom you’ll never meet) if we don’t go THIS way”

  2. Kelly March 14, 2016

    Ooh yeah… we are finding ourselves planning an early furlough, which is actually such a gift because this term has been intense. And somehow I sensed it would be before we arrived for our second term. This one would be hard. And we strive to find joy and hope in the cracks of it all. Thank you for that challenge!

  3. Kimberly Todd March 14, 2016

    I am so happy to know about that documentary! We love Misty Copeland’s book, Firebird. She’s such an inspiration. As is this post. Thanks, Jessica!

  4. Monica F March 15, 2016

    I read your post out loud to my husband just now…initiated a lot of great conversation!  Yes, I have been that screaming pre-schooler in the back of the car… up until recently, when the curve in the road has so clearly revealed the new season and new work the Father is doing in us.  I’m used to the familiar route, and know the destination I long for.  So, we are taking a new road, and I’m actually getting excited about seeing some ‘new scenery’ along the way, and embracing the itinerary the Father is setting before us.  Didn’t think it would look the way that it’s beginning to look, but the Father knows my longings and knows the best way to take me there.  Thank you for this awesome post today!

  5. Michele Womble March 15, 2016

    “I want a straight shot to my hopes and dreams.”  Yes siree bob!  I do, too.

    I loved these lines, too, Jessica.

    “Maybe if we dare to believe Jesus we’ll be able to just settle in and enjoy the ride. Maybe art is daring to believe a completed work will be there in the end.”

    It’s so hard to be patient, and it’s so hard NOT to yell (at God) “we’re going the wrong way!  We took the wrong turn!”  And so hard to trust that He knows where we’re going and He’ll get us there. AT THE RIGHT TIME.   And that in the end we’ll find that the winding road was more interesting and more beautiful than our straight shot.

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