Friday, September 21, 2012

Time I spent needlessly bitter (but beautifully blessed) in Provo

Of the ten years Scott and I have been dating/married, we've spent all but 15 months residing in Provo, Utah.  This is not what we had planned.

Scott getting his undergrad took a while.  I think he worked at least 20 hours every single semester, and sometimes had an internship on top of that.  And he pushed through to get three minors.  Then there was grad school... which came with its own set of challenges, ninety percent of which were a professor who, at times, would hold Scott's thesis in his hands for an entire semester before giving it one set of revisions.  (This professor considered a master's thesis to need at least a dozen revisions.)  So that took longer than it needed to.

Then we spent about a year looking for a job.  And when he got one, it was right on the I-15 Core project!  He'd commute all of 20 minutes from home for the first year, and about 10 for the second.  These past two years on the project have been dreamy.  But there were some pretty dark days getting there.  And that's kinda what I wanted to talk about.

In that time, I've been the "goodbye committee" for countless friends.  I've waved off friends to California, New Mexico, the east coast, Oregon, Texas, Hawaii, and countless other places.  Even when many of these friends were temporarily moving back in with their parents, I was still jealous.

Staying in Provo meant being stuck, meant not moving on.  And I hated that.  I really, really did.  I whined a lot, and I moped even more.  My thinking was pessimistic, painful, and I was just not much fun to be with.

I can't say when it was (probably waaaay later than it should have been), but one day, I woke up and I realized how selfish I'd been.  Most of my friends were living, day in, day out, in their parents' homes.  They were looking for jobs, too.  They were struggling, too.  But I had my own home, and there wasn't a doubt in my mind it had been a generous, sweet mercy from the God who loves me.

Wait.  I can say when it was.  I looked at pictures of these starving children in Somolia.  Pictures like that have always had a profound impact on me, and I thought about what it would be like to be a mother, terrified of how to feed your children their next meal, and praying and pleading for the drought to end.  God loved them just as much as he loved me, but I had blessings their minds could not even conceive of.   I thought about what they'd say if they knew about my fridge with the water dispenser in it.  About my tub.  And the sprinkling system for my lawn.  I realized my problems were ridiculous.  Spoiled.  Self-centered and prideful.  Children were literally dying in their parents' arms, and I was whining because I thought we'd worked so hard we deserved everything in an instant.
I think I remember reading that this baby was over two years old and only 13 lbs. 

I had everything I needed, and then some. 

And while that didn't make everything change during that year of underemployment, it made things much better.  God truly does love me, and throughout that year he provided multiple profound, simple acts of grace that left me in no doubt of his watchfulness.  And I'd rather be in poor circumstances, whatever they may be, and yet in his care, than have all the money and wealth in the world but devoid of his attentions.

Does that make any sense?  What do you do, when you're struggling to get through those really hard times?  Although I'm not worried about Scott's future employment, there could be a few dark days ahead with challenges of a different kind, and I'd like some fresh ideas.


Amanda said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU for blogging again. Reading your posts these past few days has made me think that I'd like to just sit and chat with you on a regular basis. I'm going through a period of challenge. It's more of a mental/emotional challenge than anything else--and would probably seem minor to lots of people. (I realize it could be much, MUCH worse.) All I can say is it must be taken one day at a time. And that's my advice.

The Weed said...

Mickelle your writing is beautiful. I'm so glad you're blogging again. This post was very touching, and drew out in a painfully accurate way the ridiculousness of my own "injustices." I love the ways in which God has blessed you--his love for you is very apparent (that house being a sweet, miraculous example.) It makes it easier to see his sweet acts of grace in my own life to think on the ways he's done the same for yours.

"I'd rather be in poor circumstances, whatever they may be, and yet in his care, than have all the money and wealth in the world but devoid of his attentions." This quote should be a meme spreading around Facebook. Except it's too brilliant for that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

The Nat Nat said...

I think that the key to getting through any hard time - even a hard afternoon - is gratitude.

If I am having a hard time I like to count my many blessings, and say a prayer of gratitude.

You'll find that if you are grateful for everything that is going right in your life (even down to the basic functions of being able to breathe on your own and the gifts of sight, smell, and hearing) then the few things that are wrong don't seem that big anymore.

Besides, you have two beautiful girls and a husband that loves you. What else could you need?

Jeff & Michelle said...

I loved this Mickelle, loved, loved, loved! Thanks for sharing!!! For me, I find that the best way to get through trials is to recognize that God is in control and look for His hand in my life.

Along with that, I work to surrender my own will and my own expectation or desire for my life over to His. It's a work in progress (forever probably), but if I try to surrender my own will to His and recognize that He is not only in control, but also has a "method to the madness," I find that I can deal with things a lot better. It's like the difference between relying on the arm of flesh (my own arm in many cases) and relying on God. God's way is ALWAYS better. So I try to think about what I can learn from the experience I am going through and what it can teach me.

Easier said than done though. But I find that if the trial is more severe, I end up trying harder. I think many of our challenges are designed to bring us to Christ and help us become more like Him.

Anonymous said...

You cry when you need to. Then you adjust your expectations and perceptions and find things to be happy about so you don't miss a whole section of your life that you'll never get back.

I was excited to find you blogging again.-SA