When I was little I assumed that around age 24 I would be a camp counselor somewhere in the mountains falling in love with another camp counselor. His name would be Todd and he would be super hot. We would wear backpacks all the time and flirt around a campfire and get married when we were 27 and then I would become a lawyer, because I think Legally Blonde had come out sometime around then and I assumed if Elle Woods could be a lawyer I definitely could too even though everything in my nature predisposes me against any such thing. Then we would have triplets and life would be EPIC. In short, I think I wanted to be Leslie Knope.
And now here I am at 24. And it's so much better than I ever hoped it would be, in so many ways. I'm married to the most amazing guy I've ever met, and he makes me popcorn and watches Christmas movies in the summer with me and wakes up early with our son every day so I can sleep in. I have the cutest baby boy ever made, and he just melts my heart when he gently, gently puts his open mouth on my nose like a kiss, taking care not to dig his two little tic tac teeth in. I love my job - not as a lawyer, but as a remote assistant and as a mom. Camp counselors seem to like running a lot, and lawyers generally don't get to wear Birkenstocks to work. So I'm glad I missed those callings.
24 is also so much harder than I ever thought it would be. 24 has stretch marks and bags under its eyes and smile lines, and one creaky hip from toting a baby on it. 24 looks different than any other year - like seeing someone who looks like an old friend, but you're not quite sure, it's been so long... I'm not regularly leading worship with my husband for the first time in 6 years, admittedly by choice. I don't live in my "hometown", if Austin can even carry the title "town". I don't just drive down MoPac to get to my parents house or walk down 40th to Avenue G to 43rd to get to my favorite coffee shop. I don't have my villagers - the community we gathered around the table every week to eat with, talk about God with, trade baby clothes with… I don't live in the house we came home from our honeymoon to ~ just 20 paces across from side to side, measured hundreds of times over while bouncing a newborn to sleep, and only a bit more from front to back, from kitchen window to rosebushes, Chinese tallow to pecan tree.
23 brought my Major Life Transition. Everything. Literally almost EVERY. THING. changed. 24 is where I'll figure out what to do with that. 24 will be muddling through ~ pulling up to stand and falling down, then pulling up again until I find my balance. And even so, I'm finding more and more that no season is all one thing or another, in the same way that people aren't all one thing or another. Last year held some of the absolute happiest and saddest moments of my life to date, often jammed right up against each other. I brought home my beautiful baby boy on July 3rd, then spent July 4th crying all day while watching the screensaver of nature scenes on our TV while he slept. We celebrated Shep's first Christmas, and I cried into my hot cocoa as Rob hung the Christmas lights and Frank Sinatra crooned 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' because I felt our time in that house ending. Joy and sorrow were seat mates on a crowded bus, jostling along. I'm sure that 24 will hold the same sort of thing, unexpected joy and deep sorrow. High highs and low lows, sometimes in the same day, sometimes in the same hour.
I found this in my Book of Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals app, and I've turned to it again + again + again for comfort. I hope it comforts you as well in whatever change you're facing, whatever season you're muddling through.
prayer: for major life transition
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.