An exciting life

One thing I’ve always wanted is an interesting, exciting life. By “exciting” I don’t mean that I need all my days to be packed with BASE jumping while handling rattlesnakes, but just that I’ve always craved a life where I’d be challenged and stimulated, where there’d frequently be something new and different going on, where I’d not spend much time stuck in a rut or bored.

And back in my pre-conversion life, I was pretty sure I’d hooked that up. When my husband and I were first together we traveled extensively, lived in the downtown entertainment district, went from zip-lining in the jungles of Costa Rica to underground raves in San Francisco, took big risks with our careers, threw big parties that included fascinating people from all walks of life, involved ourselves in interesting side businesses and organizations, etc. etc. I felt like I had done what I wanted to do: I felt like I lived an exciting life.

This has come to mind lately as friends who’ve known me for a long time have called to ask how I feel about tomorrow, when I’ll have my third baby in three years. A couple of girlfriends who have known me the longest have expressed a particularly pointed curiosity about what I think of all this. “Your life now is so, umm, ” one friend said as she struggled for a way to phrase it, “so different now than it used to be. Do you miss it?”

When she asked that question, if I missed my old life, I realized that I really don’t at all. The biggest reason is, of course, that back then I didn’t know that God existed. As I’ve said before, the worst day with God is far better than the best day without God. But there’s another reason I don’t miss it, one that may surprise some people: it wasn’t that exciting. Not compared to my life now, anyway.

While I probably experienced more surface-level thrills back then such as stepping off of a plane in a new country, or shaking hands with some political bigwig whose fundraising party we had managed to sneak into, it was all basically predictable. Scheduled. I was firmly under the illusion that my life was mine to control, so all excitement had its proper place on the calendar. And when events played out that I had not anticipated, that did not fit with my plans for my life, I’d go into a mode of trying to get everything back in line with an iron fist, wallowing in frustration and angst until I forced things back on track.

It was like riding a roller coaster at an amusement park: exciting, yes. But nice and safe and orderly. Plenty of surface-level thrills without much unpredictability. The car stays safely on the tracks and your route is carefully controlled.

Discovering God and deciding to trust him with my future and to live my life according to his rules has been like getting off the roller coaster and leaving the amusement park — not for a life of boredom, as I might have imagined it to be when I was younger, but for a life of true excitement. If all the carefully planned activities of my early 20’s were like riding a roller coaster, turning my life and my future over to God is like whitewater rafting on an uncharted river. It’s a life filled with plenty of slow, steady parts where I’m just floating along and taking in the scenery; and sometimes there’s rough water; other times there are huge rapids and real danger; but I never really know what’s around the next corner.

When I was younger I would have been shocked and a bit incredulous at hearing that living with a strict faith like orthodox Catholicism would lead to a more rich, more exciting life than anything I’d ever experienced. But, really, it makes sense. What is more intriguing than the fact that the Creator of the universe has a will for each one of us at every moment of every day, and that we are able to tap into that knowledge? What is more exciting than knowing that all we need to do is take life day by day, discern where God seems to be leading us this morning or this afternoon, and then just sit back and hold on for the ride, which may very well take us into uncharted territory that we would have never discovered by ourselves?

I’ve thought about this many times over the past few weeks as I’ve worked to get the house ready for the baby. As I was assembling the new crib yesterday I thought with a smirk, “Boy, I would have never guessed that this is what I would be doing this weekend.” A year ago I would not have imagined that I’d have another baby in August 2007. That certainly wasn’t my plan. But these past nine months have been a wild ride, and something tells me that after tomorrow I’ll have eight squirmy pounds of living proof that God’s plans are always more exciting than our own.

Like this post?

Sign up for my updates and you'll never miss another post.

Comments

  1. Blair says

    Great post, Jen. I was just meditating this morning on my exciting college life and how much I miss it. I was living for Christ but also living for myself without the joys and sacrifices of a family. It’s interesting to think about from where and when He called us to this life as mothers.

    I will be praying for you tomorrow. I miscarried earlier this year and we named the baby Augustine. I am going to try to make morning Mass and ask for our little Augustine’s prayers as well as those of St. Monica and St. Augustine for you and for all mothers, especially those of children who’ve fallen away.

    God bless you!

  2. Colleen says

    What a beautiful post! I’ll be offering up any tiredness or struggles I have caring for my own Augustine (he’s 3 months old) for you and your baby tomorrow. God bless you!

  3. Abigail says

    This is so true! God’s plans for us are way more adventurous than our own. We’ll pray for an easy c-section & happy a family time with three kids.

  4. Brandon L says

    Good blog. It is enjoyable (for lack of a better term) to see the struggle that goes on when one changes lifestyles and belief systems and how the assumptions of their earlier life change and come to the front. I’m Protestant and I’ve been a Christian all my life (err…), but I can certainly understand some of the changes you are going through and living in the Bible Belt (I went to a Christian school in the buckle of the Bible Belt…. eck).

    I hope everything goes well with the delivery.

  5. Christine says

    Jen, this is such a beautiful post, and so true. Thank you so much for posting, and you’ll be in our prayers tomorrow(and after of course).

  6. Ouiz says

    I am praying for you! May God bless and protect you and your little one and grant you a safe and easy delivery!

  7. Melanie B says

    An exciting life. I guess it is, at that. I may sometimes be frustrated, exhausted, and anxious. I’m very seldom bored.

    Praying for you and your newest little one.

  8. mrsdarwin says

    We’ll be praying for you tomorrow, and for your squirmy eight pound bundle. Can’t wait to meet baby!

  9. La gallina says

    As usual, I feel exactly the same way. Life with God, husband, and babies has been way for fun than life traveling around the world, partying it up, etc.

    I will be praying for you, your baby, and your family

  10. Milehimama says

    We’ll be keeping you in our prayers!
    And don’t forget to pack socks – it may be August, but hospitals are COLD! LOL

  11. Sarahndipity says

    This is a great post. I think your whitewater analogy is very apt. As a cradle Catholic who married and had a child at a young age, I sometimes struggle with the fact that I haven’t traveled much or done much “exciting” stuff. I guess I sort of envy you that you got to “have your cake and eat it to” – do lots of exciting stuff when you were younger and were still able to have children. I suppose my husband and I will be able to travel more when we’re older and our kids are grown up, but that time just seems soooo far away. Anyway, my spiritual director told me basically the same thing that you’re saying, that living your vocation should be exciting. I guess it doesn’t feel that way to me, at least not yet. But I think we cradle Catholics tend to take these things for granted, whereas converts like you don’t.

    I do think I tend to suffer from “grass-is-greener-ism.” If I were still single and unencumbered, I’d probably be longing for a husband and children.

    I was just meditating this morning on my exciting college life and how much I miss it. I was living for Christ but also living for myself without the joys and sacrifices of a family.

    Blair, I can so relate to this. I still miss college sometimes and I’ve been out for five years. Marriage and family is a huge sacrifice, isn’t it? Sometimes it seems like it’s almost as much of a sacrifice as the religious life. On the bright side, I haven’t had so much as a second of boredom since I graduated. 🙂 Though sometimes I absolutely long to be bored! Btw, I’m so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. 🙁

    Good luck with your delivery, Jen! I’ll be praying for you!

  12. lyrl says

    I hope your induction went smoothly! Best wishes to your entire family on this momentous occasion.

  13. Mahsheed says

    Dear Jen,

    You are in my prayers. I hope your delivery was safe and as painless as possible and spiritually beneficial (I don’t know how catholics usually express this sentiment).

    Bless you and your baby and your family.

    Regards,
    Mahsheed

  14. Adoro te Devote says

    Wow, does that hit home! Not in the same way…but still. Thanks for articulating this…you are not alone in that experience.

  15. Marybeth says

    Jen, I have enjoyed checking out your blog today. Can’t remember how I got here, though!
    I just wanted to say that I am cutting and pasting what you wrote on my own blog, and providing a link (I couldn’t figure out how to do a direct link to this specfic post and I want to make sure my readers read this.) It is just that good. You very eloquently said something I knew but didn’t realize I knew until you put it into words.
    Thanks!

  16. Anonymous says

    Hey there, this is a beautiful website. I totally relate on both accounts cause am a christian and I so want to live an exciting life. It’s like an oxymoron though, I don’t know how to be content in God and yet have fun and enjoy life. to me it sometimes seems that I can only choose one and ofcourse I can’t live without God

Trackbacks