Adulthood for Beginners

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Daniel Swanson Photography

I consider myself a beginner adult.

As such, there is a limited number of responsible activities I can (usually) handle on a daily basis. This list includes:

  1. Eating
  2. Going to work
  3. Spending time with my husband
  4. Sleeping
  5. Exercising a little
  6. Brushing and flossing my teeth

Not included on this list are:

  1. Dishes
  2. Weeding
  3. Picking up prescriptions from Walgreens
  4. Returning library books
  5. DMV appointments
  6. Daily showers

I would be interested to see what items make it onto your list of can-do activities. I would probably gain insight into both your personality and your priorities. In my case, the above list reflects the current scope of my emotional stamina.

Being a beginner adult means that I generally know what I’m supposed to be doing but don’t feel much hope that I will do it. I read emails reminding me that my book was overdue last Tuesday and that, if I don’t pick up my prescription today, I’ll have to re-order. I watch the prickly green monsters in my yard approach knee-height and wonder how long it will be until the neighbors complain. I build precarious towers of bowls in the sink, and I braid my hair in the mornings hoping no one can tell that it’s a little greasy.

A dear friend of mine once received mockery for keeping her Christmas tree months beyond December. She did not want to keep it. Its needles had long ago died – although they somehow remained attached to their branches – and she had packed away all the lights and ornaments. Still the tree sat, bare and faded, in her living room.

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Daniel Swanson Photography
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Daniel Swanson Photography

At the time I laughed at her a little over the phone, but I totally got it. Like me, this friend was adjusting to married life for the first time. Her brand-new job was physically and emotionally exhausting. She was fresh out of college and unused to home ownership. It was just . . . a lot to handle.

I’m sure those of you who have been adulting for decades will back me up on this: the little stuff can be tough. Sometimes I observe people like my mother who continuously accomplish feats such as grocery shopping, putting dinner in the crock pot, taking children to dentist appointments, and scheduling emissions tests, and I feel slightly panicked. It looks so easy for them, I think.

Chances are good, however, that it was a learning curve for them, too.

My hope is that adulthood will be like driving on the freeway: it will take practice. I remember a time when merging onto I25 terrified me. Now I change lanes without thinking. (Except in downtown Denver. Please don’t ask me to drive downtown.) One day cooking dinner for a family of four won’t seem like a big deal, and neither will driving to the pharmacy.

For now, I’ll try not to get too frustrated about the dishes and focus on what I am accomplishing. I love my husband, and we spend lots of time watching The Office in bed. We usually have clean laundry (even if it stays piled in the hamper instead of going in the drawers). We cuddle with our kitty and, when we can, prioritize time with parents and grandparents. I’m learning a lot at work. We’re growing and stretching, and I will get better at this stuff.

Until then, I’ll take adulthood one step at a time.


The Reluctant Bride

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Daniel Swanson Photography

When You Get what You Prayed for

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Daniel Swanson Photography

About a week ago, I got an amazing job.

This job promises to develop my strengths – writing and learning – while addressing my weaknesses (worrying and accepting criticism). It affirms my Christian values and surrounds me with strong, like-minded people. Furthermore, it came right when I needed it.

As of last month, my husband and I were approaching an uncertain financial future. Although I enjoyed my job at the coffeeshop, I wasn’t contributing much to our monthly bills. Meanwhile, he was crumbling beneath the strain of 3+ jobs. Something had to give. It occurred to me (last minute, as usual) to pray for a higher-paying job. A week or two later, I got the interview.

God doesn’t always work quickly, but when He does, it’s hard to miss the message. When my interviewer told me over the phone, “We’d like you to work for us,” I responded before he could take a breath: “Yes, I accept.” I would have been a fool to refuse.

But I wasn’t excited.

I didn’t hang up the phone doing a happy dance; I didn’t give anyone a hug. Instead, I prayed for courage before calling my old boss to give notice. I sent Facebook messages trying to get shifts covered and started cancelling plans that conflicted with my new work schedule. I shared the news with the necessary people (my husband, my mom, my girlfriends) and absorbed their congratulations perfunctorily, breathing deeply to combat the tightness in my stomach.

You see, change – even good change – is scary. Even when I clearly see God at work; even when I anticipate myriad practical benefits; even when I receive exactly what I asked for, I get nervous.

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Daniel Swanson Photography
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Daniel Swanson Photography

My mother, who knows me better than most, guessed how I was feeling. “Marie,” she told me, “you can trust God because this is what He has for you.” I replied that I did trust Him. I knew perfectly well that this job was part of His plan.

In a rational sense, I don’t have a problem trusting God. His active presence is the axiom to my theological proofs. (See, Mom? I retained something from geometry.) I do, however, struggle to embrace challenges with exuberant faith.

My laptop’s built-in dictionary defines trust as the “acceptance of the truth of a statement.” According to that definition, trust could happen at the cognitive level without extending to the gut: “Yes, Lord, I believe you – but will it hurt?” True faith, by contrast, reacts with joy to whatever future awaits.┬áIt takes a person of real courage to say with confidence, “I know Your plans are worth the pain. Bring it on, Lord.”

True faith reacts with joy to whatever future awaits.

Two days ago, my new job flew me to Philadelphia. I stayed in a hotel where the cleaning staff left chocolates on my pillows; I dined for free at three different restaurants; I attended a lecture on How to Listen; I filled an entire notebook with tips on effective communication. I even enjoyed it. Still, my primary emotion regarding the home trip was nervousness: what would the company expect from me when I returned? Could I really apply what I had learned?

My prayer for the upcoming months is that I would enter wholeheartedly into the work God has given me. While there is plenty of room in God’s kingdom for hesitant believers, I’d rather not remain one of them. Join me if you like.


The Reluctant Bride

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Daniel Swanson Photography