Finish Lines, Monopoly, and Perpetual Hope

You know what the great thing about school is? There is a finish line. No matter how many sleepless nights you experience studying for your finals, or writing obligatory papers on topics about which you do not care, or cramming so many facts into your brain that you are convinced you might develop a new way of defending your thesis (puking that is); regardless of all of this, the founding fathers and mothers of higher education determined that there should be a definable end to the madness. Heck, they even throw in a cool piece of paper with your name in fancy lettering, as a tangible way of saying, “You did it. You’re done. Way to go”.

What I am wrestling with right now is…where are the finish lines? Where are the clear demarcations that give me an indication whether or not I am making the most out of my  life? Where is the watermarked aged paper with my name in fancy lettering saying “You have successfully completed phase one of being an adult…and yes,  you can put this on your resume for that amazing future job which you have yet to discover”?

When we moved out here, Eric and I felt like we were starting a new game of Monopoly.  The Peoria version, full of Emo’s, Avantis, and Grandview Drive was being temporarily shelved. By packing up our life (and storing the rest in our parents’ basement …(shout out to Paul, Sue, and Linda), we were creating a finish line for ourselves. It was 945 miles wide, but we drove across it, metaphorically taking out the New York version of the game , and rolled the dice.

We are now on month 19 of our endeavor.

We have yet to pass GO and collect $200.

Our neglect of this blog is indicative that both Eric and I have felt a little embarrassed and depressed at our current lack of progress. Life has recently attached to itself a more mundane quality.  It is hard. It is really hard some days. But who wants to talk about hard work when you have nothing to show for it. 

I spend my days helping adults with severe to profound mental retardation  go to the bathroom and eat their food without choking, and (when days go as planned) learn how to better enjoy music. I leave the apartment at 7 am, walk 6 blocks, take two trains, one bus, and walk another 2 blocks before arriving at work at 8:30am.  I am home by 5pm and am usually out cold by 9pm. Eric spends his day temp-ing at the NBA store in Manhattan, fluff-ing over-priced jerseys  while a few painstakingly repetitive R& B selections blare on loop throughout the building. When he comes home I am either asleep or on my way out. He spends the rest of his time scouting for new auditions, mailing packets out to potential agents, and most annoyingly waiting to hear back from agents, producers, and directors who have shown interest, but have all temporarily fallen off the face of the earth.

It is just really easy to question why we are still out here, and gosh-darn it there isn’t a DEAN of LIFE STUDIES that we can annoy for hours on end as to which course load we should really be focusing on this semester.

As Kevin’s Mother in Home Alone so poignantly said  “This is Christmas, the season of perpetual HOPE!”, I too  am fiercely hopeful for what is to come.  I am one of those people who still at age 29, idealizes that things get clearer, God speaks louder, and maybe people listen better around this time of year.  What  hit me recently about the Christmas story is that God didn’t give anyone a long-term road map as to how things would go. He told Mary she was gonna have a baby. He would be the Messiah. He told Joseph to be okay with that. And that was it! He didn’t tell Mary if Jesus would be 3 or 33 when he would die  to save the world. No one knew except for God how this would play out. But they had this hope. This belief that God Almighty had a purpose and a plan for them.

I want progress, success, and finish lines. But I know I  already have what I need: love, provision, and hope.

“I long to accomplish a great noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble”.  Helen Keller said that once. God’s plan for us at the moment may be tedious, tiresome, and mundane. But it is not purposeless. It is full of opportunities to “accomplish small tasks” in a remarkable way.

To all the friends and family who have been praying us through this recent drought: Thank you. We have felt so loved, cheered on, and encouraged by you. To everyone reading this blog: May your Christmas be full of peace, celebration, and renewed hope in the Him who is our light in the darkness and our peace in the storm.

Merry Christmas

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2 Responses to “Finish Lines, Monopoly, and Perpetual Hope”

  1. let the sun shine in Says:

    Someone once pondered aloud what it would have been like for Mary to hear so early on just how bad it would get before the end. could a teenage girl cope with the knowledge her son – a special gift given by extraordinary means – would one day be taken from her by the very one who gave him to her and asked her to trust Him (Acts 2:23)? beaten, mocked, tortured, and finally hung up as a common criminal? and that she herself would witness it!?

    What would we do if we *were* given a glimpse? To know that 18 months from now we would find the perfect job, but with that knowledge came the knowledge we would lose it 12 months later? What if we were given a glimpse that it would be the high point of our career, at such a young age? Would it serve to get us/keep us off track more than keep us on?

    I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the universal track actually is. It can’t be success (whatever that even means) in career, or family, or community – because some of God’s children live in Bangledesh and can’t find food, let alone work. Some are disabled and simply can’t work at all. How could they be successful? Some can’t get pregnant, some are not able-bodied and minded enough to adopt. Some love their children with all they have to give, but their children reject them anyway. How could they be successful? And some are shunned from their neighbors and are seen as enemies merely because of their faith in the Lord. How could they be successful?

    Sometimes we think we want progress, success, and finish lines. And to whom much has been given, those things aren’t bad ways to meet the corresponding expectations. But if we get them, will it just lead to the cycle starting over anyway, looking for new finish lines as ends in themselves? Or will we see them for what they really are as part of a broader faithful pursuit?

    None of this is meant to be scary – though i guess it could be. Nor is it meant to pooh-pooh hard work, although I’ve never believed that “hard work is its own reward” because it just sounds ridiculous. (Having said that, I obviously could use an attitude adjustment re: Ecc 9:10.)

    In any event, when the saints go marching in, God picks the order, and as others have noted, we might be surprised to find that the little old lady who never learned to read, but managed to memorize some hymns and prayed for her children and grandchildren everyday while living a subsitence existence on food stamps could receive more angelic acclamation than some megasuccessful megachurch pastors, who themselves were in fact great men and women of faith.

    “But who wants to talk about hard work when you have nothing to show for it?” Apart from any debates about hard work being its own reward, it sounds from the rest of your post like you have a lot to show for it actually, though likely consisting more of treasures in heaven than accolades meant for an earthly resume. But regardless of how that plays out with casting agents and the broader world, it probably means you two are “right on track”.

    Be encouraged 🙂

  2. mason Says:

    Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

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