Somewhere I read, “Things are not as they should be.” This statement fits so well as I look out the window of the ICU ward and view the expansive beauty of the Pacific Ocean. On this clear, sunny day I can see downtown San Diego and Point Loma. In room 10 on the 5th floor my mother-in-law stares, unable to speak with a tube down her throat. She has pneumonia, along with an unknown bacteria. We wait. We watch for signs of improvement.
And while our family rotates in and out of room 10 throughout the day, waiting for our loved one to heal, a car pulls up in front of the hospital and a young man steps out and returns carrying a newborn baby. While one struggles to breathe and hang onto life, another has wrestled free from the womb and breathes oxygen deep into newly formed lungs letting out a scream that brings a whole family to attention. Things don’t seem to be as they should be, but they are what they will be. While an aged couple faces the struggle to rein bodies giving out, an engagement is announced by a younger couple with most of their life seemingly still ahead of them.
Autumn leaves, past their season, let go and scatter about in the street as I drive by on my way home from the store with a bouquet of daffodils in my shopping bag. Life is full of incongruity and things are not often the way we hoped they would be. Life is far from ideal; the sad packages we are given can be wrapped in joyous moments and vice versus. All the signs we are human: babies, weddings, aging bodies and death are the ordinary stuff of being human. The joys and struggles of our everyday lives are the things God uses to draw our attention to Him. Like colorful leaves letting go out of season I sometimes wonder if the events of the day are all out of place, and I sigh hoping this isn’t real. But it is.
This has been a year for learning how to pray. It’s not like I had no idea how to pray, but how to be present to His presence and to listen for His voice. And in the midst of learning about prayer I see this part of me that spent a lot of energy wanting to get on with the life I am really meant to live – wanting to get past the hard things and onto what is joyful and rewarding. But I am learning a few things as I sit in His Word and open my mouth to pray and shut my mouth to listen.
This is the life I am meant to live, here in the midst of sickness, unfinished projects, babies, weddings, meals and laundry; it is here where He leads and speaks and loves in and through me. He is using everything – even things seeming not as they should be – to transform me. Though life experiences don’t come tied up in nice, tidy little packages with bows; there is beauty in letting go and leaving room for the unexpected. There is freedom in accepting things will not always be as they seem or as I wish them to be.
I am learning to let go of having things the way I want and to live the life I have been given. And trust me, it is not easy. I am a work in progress and return to this place more often than I care to admit. Always, when I show up again on His doorstep with a pout on my face that lets Him know I hadn’t expected life to look this way, I find grace. There I can fall into His arms, let it all go and be loved. Then He turns me around, as He did with Elijah, and tells me to go back the way I came. For even though “Things are not as they should be” life is exactly as it is meant to be in His kingdom and He gives me everything I need to live the life I have been given.