Friday, January 23, 2015

Open-handed and great grace

So I start school in 3 days.  THREE DAYS. After 23 years of NOT being in school I got the bright idea I should go back.  Why? I don't know.  To study what? I'm not sure.  What am I going to do? I have not a clue.  But I am going and it all starts Monday.

My first thought is that I'd really like to go back to 1988 and slap around the young woman who graduated high school with 18 units of college credit from her AP tests in her senior year.  "Stay in school!" I'd scream at her.  And then I would hunt her and stalk her and make sure she got her butt to class every day and did her homework all the time... you know a lot like I do to my own children now.  But alas there is no going back.  So instead I resent and regret her and do my best to move forward with today.

Today I am gulping down deep breaths.  I got an email from one of my professors yesterday (all 3 of whom I am pretty certain are going to be younger than me... my fear is MUCH younger than me.) Anyway, professor #1 of my Critical Thinking/ Reading class that is primarily online but requires one hour of a week of lab work has warned that if I think I will get through her class without committing AT LEAST 10 hours a week to it, I am sorely mistaken.  And that is like the worst kind of mistaken.  So suddenly it occurs to me, all my classes may be like that, which means 3 classes x 10 hours a week = 30 hours a week for schoolwork, not to mention the 4 hours every Monday night I will be spending in my College Writing class.  Gulp. (I'm also taking a math class online). That of course is all on top of my full time job and being a wife and mom.  Can I get a "What the hell were you thinking?"

I don't know.  I wasn't. I just know this really, REALLY felt like the direction God was moving me - again without a plan, an understanding or any insight at all.  I just took the step of faith and signed up.  Then God provided financial aid to pay for the classes. Then I had MY plan for what I wanted to sign up for and I felt God draw me a slightly different direction. Then I got ALL THREE of the classes I felt HE was telling me to sign up for, and that was after everyone told me the likelihood of that actually happening was nil.  So, felt like a double confirmation. So I press on.

But now I find myself actually staring directly down the barrel of the school shotgun and all the imagining of what it is going to be like will soon fade into what will be real. I've been warning my family about the challenges that are ahead.  Last night my daughter called in a panic over something she forgot and needed me to run to the store for. I told her that soon those last minute "mini-crises" were not going to take top priority.  This morning I lectured both her and her brother about how much more important personal responsibility and planning ahead was about to become.  Mom rescue will be on hiatus.

I've warned my hubby too.  He's really willing to step up and said so, but dinners, bedtimes, practices, rehearsals, homework and the like are all about to slide smooth like spaghetti off of my plate and onto his.  That's going to be new, and maybe a challenge to his laid back nature when schedules and deadlines have to be kept.  Even as I type this my heart starts to palpitate. Only one of us has an issue with things not going as they're supposed to, and newsflash: it isn't him.

So, I've been praying, maybe more than usual about what's ahead.  I've been praying a LOT. Mostly the "dear God help me" kind of prayers, but also quite a few of the "God are you sure about this?" variety as well.  So far He has yet to relent.

He keeps speaking two things to me: (1) Be open handed.  I have to let go of how I think things ought to be.  If one of my kids gets a D on their science project or forgets their homework or fails a test, I don't get to get in a tizzy and have a fit.  I need to let life and natural consequences take their course.  If I miss a deadline, or do poorly on an exam, it will not be the end of the world.  All I can do is the best I can do.  If there is a week that my family has to eat cheap Del Taco three nights in a row, I have to be ok.  If the kids miss their bedtimes or whatever I know the Lord is saying, "Let it go." Life happens.  As the Lord and I have this "discussion" while I am walking trying to get my 10K steps a day you might find me talking to him and literally lifting my hand and opening my palm and pushing it toward heaven, like releasing a bird, "open handed." Check. Because that is TOTALLY my personality.... NOT.

The second thing He keeps speaking to my heart is a verse. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Over and over and over again I hear this. I feel like this is the theme verse for the days that lie ahead.  And can I just be honest with you? That scares me a little lot.... And it gives me hope.  Because in the midst of missed or messed up meals, on the days I feel like an absolute failure as a wife, woman, mom and/or student, I am anticipating (hoping, begging, believing) that God, always true to His word will step in, and I will find His grace in a new and abounding way.  Oh Lord, I hope that's what I hear you saying!

But it's not going to be easy.  I have a lot to overcome, primarily my own personality that will react overreact, fight and struggle to keep everything "just so," And I am going to have to stop myself and choose to remember this revelation now in advance that will be hard to recollect in the midst of chaos and busyness.  There will be a lot of days I need reminders to be open-handed and walk in grace, and live in a bigger more eternal perspective than the tyranny of the urgent and perfectionism that comes more naturally to me.  Lots of deep breaths and hail mary prayers ahead.

So if you see me in the moment overwhelmed, reacting or overreacting, in panic or freak out mode, please feel free, from a careful distance of course, to just say "Hey Diana, you're living open-handed, right?"  Or if you care to be more diplomatic simply remind, "Diana, God's grace is great, isn't it!"  Because I can pretty much guarantee you, I will need the refresher course.  And if your willing, say a prayer for me and my family on this new adventure.  It would be greatly appreciated.


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