So…Gandalf comes back and he’s all cool and powerful and wise. And…they all lived happily ever after?
That’s when the action of the story really gets going. See, Gandalf needed to become the white wizard because he would need all that power to deal with the increasingly overwhelming circumstances that would come.
One thing I have learned from J’s video games, board games and rpg’s is that you don’t want to go after the big bad until you’ve had a chance to level up.
So what does this have to do with me?
Well, I feel like I’ve leveled up. This doesn’t have anything to do with me being on some level that other people have to get to. Or with me wanting to get to some level that other people seem to have reached. That’s not what I’m talking about. But when S was born, some things were forever redeemed for me. God proved certain things to me, to the point where I no longer feel justified in my doubts about what He thinks about me or if I will be given the resource necessary to handle the challenges that arise.
So, when I think about having leveled up, it doesn’t mean that my life has suddenly become crazy in ways that it wasn’t before. I mean sure, I have two kids now. “Two is more than one,” as a friend is fond of saying when asked what it’s like having another child. That’s true. But really, I think I expect more from myself than I did before. Certainly more than I did when E. was this age. When she was 3 months old, I was a post-traumatic puddle on the floor. I think the main thing that saved me from sliding unchecked into depression was Phoenix Coffee, my great husband, and a few close friends.
But that’s where I was. I’m not there now. And I want to live in a way that honors the progress that I’ve made. It feels disingenuous to live as though I don’t know more about myself than depressed-puddle-on-the-floor Katie.
I’ve had some glimpses of this new power. Last week I took the kids and went to visit a friend L. We had many, many opportunities to fall into old patterns of being stressed by each other. But we didn’t. There were a lot of factors that could have added up to a terrible time…I was only there for 24 hours. We had harvesting, canning, shopping, cooking and eating to do. We had 3 kids to take care of. We had differing opinions about recipes. We had fundamentally different understandings of why I was even there (teaching someone how to can is NOT the same as canning all their produce for them). Really any one of these things would have been enough to ruin a visit in the past. But you know what? I think it was the best visit we’ve ever had. And not just because of the tomato marmalade. We were able to assume the best of each other and respond to each other without our relational insecurities looming large and eclipsing the fact that we were there to have fun and encourage each other in our distinct yet symbiotic (someone who knows canning but can’t farm goes really well with a farmer who doesn’t have a canner) paths. We communicated honestly and without spite or hidden subtext (which I’m bad at hiding in my own speech and even worse at detecting in other people’s). She pointed out that “10 years’ll do that to you,” which I think is true. But I also think that insecurity will block a person from responding in love. But this time it didn’t, because I didn’t let it.
See what I mean? Leveled up.
And I’m hopeful that it’s just the beginning. I want to react graciously when E. is pushing boundaries. I want to not feel the need to fight to be heard just because deep down I am afraid I don’t have anything valuable to say. I want to be a better wife by having more of myself to offer J. I don’t know yet what else I want. I don’t know what the big bad is, but I want to be able to meet it head on.