Friday, November 2, 2012

Joy in Uncertainty

For someone who struggles with anxiety, there is no worse feeling than that of perpetual uncertainty. And I feel like lately it's all I've been living in.

While I am excited to be going to college next year, I'm also terrified. Change, for me, is not an adventure. It's a letting go of something that I have loved and I have known and having to accept that it might never be the same again. It's the fact that I can never be sure that what's coming will be better than what's passed.

I have put all sorts of imaginary pressure on myself in applying for college. I've always been a perfectionist, but there is this need, this drive, this urgency now that I absolutely have to be perfect. Perfect ACT scores. Perfect essays. Perfect answers to questions. In reality, I've already done extremely well in all of these areas, but there is this drive in me that always says, I can do better. Many times, this drive has made me do things that I never would have done, like Worthday, but at times like this, it's a drive that instead of being positive is negative, and maliciously whispers, Still not good enough.

I can't tell you how many times in the past months I have thought (rather selfishly), If only we were filthy rich.

If we were rich, I wouldn't have to worry about us being able to pay. I would be able to go where I wanted without concerning myself about scholarships. It would be certain.

And perhaps we could have been rich, but the price for that would have been Levi and Evan. And I would choose not to go to college before I traded them.

I know in my head that God is in control. That He will put me exactly where I'm supposed to be. But I also know that where I'm supposed to be might not be where I want to be. And that frightens me. Sometimes I get mad at God for this. I feel like He's already thrown so much uncertainty, so many things I didn't want at me.

Levi's diagnosis of autism shortly after Evan came home, his behavior, the toll it takes on our whole family. Sometimes I want to scream out, Why, God!? Why can't I just have what I want, just for this. Just for college.

And maybe He will give me what I want. Maybe He won't. There is no way to be certain. And that is the hardest thing of all.

In the midst of all this, I've realized that I've been living in a training ground. The first summer I went to Peru was the summer after we decided to adopt Evan. Shortly thereafter, I decided that it was on my heart to somehow, someway go into special needs orphan care. I don't know if things would have turned out like they did with Levi anyway or not, but perhaps when I decided that was when God decided to let things happen with Levi. Maybe that was His way of saying, This is what you want to do? Here's a trial run, just to make sure.

The past year and a half since Evan came home has been the hardest of my life. But it has also been the most beautiful and the most redemptive. There are days when I triumph in the progress that Levi has made, that we've made as a family. There are days when I think things will never get better. But there has never been a day when I wished Levi and Evan away. There has never been a day that I wasn't absolutely sure this is what God wanted me to do. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's painful and heartbreaking, and frustrating. But I see the love of God more clearly with Levi and Evan than I do anywhere else.

I think regardless of where God puts me for college, it will be a respite, a break. I still fully plan to go into special needs orphan care in some way, form, or fashion after I graduate. But perhaps God is having me go to college to rest, to rejuvenate. For a time, I will be able to leave drinks on the counter without having to worry that someone will knock them down. I will be able to watch a movie with friends without having to worry about Levi and Evan wanting to watch something else. I will be able to live day to day without having the responsibility of two little kids on me. For most people, adjusting to college is difficult. I think it will be a relief for me.

In all of this crazy uncertainty, though, God has given me something that brings me joy, gives me a break, and makes me feel purposeful. I started volunteer tutoring at a local elementary school for kids who have trouble in reading and math. Fourth graders, to be exact. I've only done it twice and, already, I've fallen in love with those kids. They are beautiful, smart, funny, and sweet. Each one of them. And it gives me great joy to be able to know them, to cherish them, to instill in them that they are special. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Of course He knew how stressed I've been. And so He gave me this outlet, this place that I can go where I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, where I feel important, where I feel all the stress and pressure of college preparation slipping away.

What a merciful, knowing God we have. Even if we don't always understand Him. Even if things are uncertain to me, they never are to Him.