MAYbe you thought this month’s ‘pewsletter’ would never come? May, Maybe, get it? Have no fear, the second Saturday is here. Do I always post on the second Saturday of the month? No.
Am I going to try to make it a thing? Also no, but the alliteration worked this week.
Four weeks ago, I entered the homestretch for finishing my bachelor’s degree at the ripe age of approximately one hundred years old. In order to begin my upcoming job this fall, my degree needed to be complete by this semester, so I decided to double my course load and attempt to crank through four classes in the already accelerated timeframe usually required to complete two classes.
It has been an adventure, and by adventure I mean sometimes sobbing in the shower that it’s all too much and I can’t stay on top of school and housework and child-rearing and being a chef and trying to get rid of the mouse in our kitchen (has this ever happened to you? Pray for me, and send live cats.) and trying to work out three times a week so I can eventually get off this dumb heart medicine and play in the garden out back and be a human being with needs and friends and blah blah blah you get it. I’m feeling the pinch, folks.
In the limited realm of my perspective, I feel less than stellar about how I’ve ‘showed up’ to life in last month; because I’m studying for many of my waking hours, I feel like my prayer life has suffered, my friendships have suffered, my housework has suffered, my patience with the kids has suffered – just a spiral of shame-y me-monster all the way down.
So much of that shame is tied into what I can contribute to those areas right now; how I can show up in prayer, how I can show my family love by keeping the home clean, how I can be a good friend, how I can be the fun mom. But the reality is, for fourteen short-but-long weeks, I actually can’t; my prayer life looks different right now because I’m so depleted, so I actually have more silence to offer than praise; but this too, is worship. The house is a mess right now because I can’t actually dedicate the blocks of time required to keep it clean like I normally can; but my family can pitch in, and instead of taking it as a mark of shame that I need help, I can enter into the discomfort of vulnerability and gratitude in my need. I can’t offer the ministry of presence that I usually enjoy in my friendships in the quantity that I normally can; but I can receive it now instead. I can’t actually do any of the PTA things this season; but I can trust that other parents who are in other seasons and find the PTA life-giving are doing the PTA things, and my kids are so much better off for it than if I had tried to shoehorn it onto an already overflowing plate.
I know this won’t last forever; fall will come and I will have graduated and I will cry for relief having loved, truly, almost every second of it. But for now, I am receiving support more than offering it in every area of my life and it is profoundly discomforting and an assault on my pride and also, thank you.
In one of my lectures on the book of Romans this week, I learned the Greek word for “perseverance” – it’s ὑπομένω, or hupomeno. The context was from James 1:2-4, where trials develop perseverance, which must finish its work to go on to develop maturity.
The professor spoke about how when we go through various challenges or difficulties, we often just want to get them over with as quickly as possible; to learn the lesson, end the trial, get back to #blessed. But the word hupomeno actually means ‘to remain under;’ to sit in the middle of the misery or difficulty, even when we want to get out from under it.1
This is not news, but the point of the encouragement in James is that if we can endure with patience the myriad challenges that will come throughout every human’s life, we will develop the hope and character that is the goal of maturity. But we can’t cut out halfway through, or spend all our energy trying to get out from under the weight of whatever the difficulty is bringing; sometimes, we need to remain under it, enduring, putting one foot in front of the other, and trusting that the Lord who keeps us soundly in the trial will also be faithful to bring us all the way through it. We know I’m not talking about schoolwork anymore, but learning the definition behind that word – to remain under – really blessed me, so I hope it blesses you too.
Speaking of encouragement, sometimes I ask my husband to proof my papers before I submit them – mainly to see if the flow of thought is coherent, because I tend to weave about fifty threads together when trying to communicate an idea. Keeping the metaphor, I used the following phrase in the introductory paragraph one of my papers last week;
“There are common threads woven throughout [the thing I’m researching], however, and this paper will attempt to show some of the threads in the warp and woof of their thematic weave.”
I know the phrase in question can be rendered warp and woof or warp and weft, but my husband had never heard the phrase period, and neither had any of my friends, and neither had my classmate, so I was beginning to feel like a big dum-dum. Until. Until I read this absolute banger yesterday from a published work by a legitimate scholar;
“I have called [the things he’s talking about] ‘orbiting questions’ because they each exert a lunar-like influence on the tides of the debate, while at the same time shedding illuminating light on the issues involved.”2
Guys, I have found my people, and I am not even remotely sorry for the colorful turns of phrase y’all will be enduring for the rest of my writing life.
I hope this May is so kind to you, reader; I hope this prolonged Spring has given you cool mornings with fresh breezes, with flowers unfurling and trees in blossom to make your heart sing, and birdsong in the mornings to rouse that ethereal hope that Spring always seems to bring.
I hope that if you find yourself persevering under some pressing difficulty, some seemingly unbearable weight, that you don’t lose heart or feel crushed, but rather are strengthened to endure what sometimes must be endured, until you come out from under it into the full light of day which always, 100% of the time, every single time, will follow night.
I hope you try something new, spend time with someone that makes you laugh until you pee a little, and have your breath taken away by something beautiful this month.
I hope you raise your hand and ask for help when you need it, and that you don’t feel even a wisp or whisper of shame.
I hope you are blessed, body and soul, and that you have the consolation of the all-consuming, all-enduring, always and forever love of our God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What I’m Reading This Month:
One metric tonne of research papers.
I finally finished The Lazy Genius Way after beginning it over a year ago, and friends, it was really good. I think I’ve already recommended this book, but sometimes I struggle with when to do what, and in what order, and in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Kendra is brilliant, and kind, and her next-to-last chapter was worth the entire year it took me to apply some of these things. I recommend it, and I hope you love it too.
I just got into Aggressively Happy but I love Joy, and I already know it will be excellent. I’ll tell you more when I’m done!
What I’m Watching This Month:
So besides Romans, I’m taking a Film and Culture class, and part of my homework is to watch 6-12 hours per week of old movies. Y’all, they don’t make them like this anymore lol:
Watch The Grapes of Wrath if you want to be reminded of ‘Why It Matters,’ in the words of Sara Groves.
Watch It Happened One Night if you want to laugh and be amused at what passed in films before the Hays Code took effect.
It’s not out yet, but I am gonna be front row with extra popcorn and Twizzlers for Top Gun 2: Electric Boogaloo when it comes out in ten days.
What I’m Eating This Month:
Not sugar, for starters, and it’s the worst. But I do have two recipes from one of my besties:
This one she made and dropped off for me because she loves me and knows I didn’t have time to cook last week. It’s the best red lentil curry I’ve ever had.
This one she made and recommended because she knows I’m newly obsessed with potato salads (I’m new here on planet Earth), which I immediately made this week and loved.
Enjoy, you sweet potato kings and queens.
1 Dr. M. McAlack, Romans 5 lec.
2 Lunde, Jonathan. Three Views on the New Testament Use of The Old Testament. Zondervan, 2009.