As a child, did you ever look at adults and think they just had it all figured out and that their lives must be so easy because they are making all the decisions? Man, oh man. How wrong is that? It's laughable, right? I mean, don't get me wrong. There are certainly perks to adulthood (eating dessert whenever I want is top of the list, of course). But it's definitely not this fantasy dream land. You don't hit a certain age and BAM! Everything makes sense. Everything is easy and there is a well-defined plan taped to your refrigerator--on the side, of course, because adults know how to keep fingerprints off of the front of stainless steel appliances. *insert eye roll*
The more years God has graciously given me to live, the more I have learned that no one has it figured out. What's that quote? "The only thing predictable about life is that it's unpredictable"? Something like that. I can't help but think about when we said goodbye to our sweet thirteen year old pup a few weeks ago. Well, many things make me think of her but it was one of those "adult situations" that was very different to experience now versus when I was a child. My childhood dog was put to sleep when I was nineteen (an age at which I was ABSOLUTELY an adult---in my own head) and it was terribly heartbreaking. But I had no idea that my parents' pain was so much more complex than my own until I was in the same situation. Being the one (with my husband) to make the decision to put her to sleep may be one of the worst experiences of my life so far. I suppose if you don't have animals that might sound super dramatic, but it truly was. I've purposely avoided writing about it until I had more time to process my emotions, but I'm still in tears as I think about it right now. We knew it needed to happen. It was very clear, but somehow you still maintain this hope that maybe just maybe a miracle will happen. We traversed eleven years of life with her by our side and saying goodbye was heartbreaking and complex. When I called my parents to tell them that Abby had died, I apologized to them for not knowing the depth of their grief when our family dog died years ago. I didn't need to apologize, of course. I wasn't expected to know what they were experiencing but having been on the other side now, I know how different it is to grieve this loss as an adult.
So...we don't have it all figured out. Adults don't have it all figured out. We're taking each step in hopes that it is heading in the right direction and for each of us, that direction looks a bit different. For some of us, that direction looks very different. And guess what? That's ok. There are some very beautiful things about being an adult and for me, one of those things is the recognition that many things that seemed like a big deal are so minor when looking at the big picture. We nitpick individual parts of a person or situation without acknowledging the whole complex being. Am I allowed to get kind of political here? This is a big year for our country and I'm not just talking about who we end up electing as our next president. Yes, that is certainly a major decision, one that I don't take lightly. But I think something that is equally important, or quite possibly even more important, is how we as individuals conduct ourselves during the coming months and years. I strongly believe that our elected officials are only as powerful as we allow them to be and that starts with us not allowing someone of "power" (whatever that means) to control us. Once we relinquish that control, our ability to continue doing the next right thing becomes much more difficult. We the people can positively dictate how the next weeks/months/years go as long as we don't get caught up the negative spiral that politics can sometimes (often?) be, especially around this time. The name calling, the berating, the judgement, the finger pointing, the lines drawn in the sand---it all just makes me sad and sick. We can affect positive change without tearing others down and stomping on them. Is it hard? Sometimes it feels SO hard. Is it possible? Definitely.
During our last major election day in 2018, I wrote the following on Facebook:
"I drove by multiple voting locations while dropping my boys off at their schools this morning and each one was completely swamped with voters. Even if we aren't voting the same way (which, let's be honest, not all of us share our feelings on social media so you truly don't always know where someone might stand), THANK YOU for voting today. I love seeing that so many people care about the future of our city/county/state/country. We can make such a positive difference in our future and the future of others and I'm so thankful that people are exercising their right to vote."
I feel that same way today. We are the adults now. We are the ones making the choices that affect not just us, but children who don't yet have the ability or option to make these choices. Sometimes it's really hard, but it is also a great privilege that starts with the choices we make each day. It can feel like such an overwhelming responsibility at times, but here's the thing--we were never promised an easy life. Nowhere is it written that life won't be hard, but hard doesn't always equal bad, nor does it cancel out the goodness, kindness, and beauty we experience along the way.
So as you go about being an adult, making big and little decisions, don't forget what Mother Teresa said: "Do small things with great love."
Until next time.