“Man you’ve changed,” Dan said as we followed the campground staff to our reserved camping spot. “That’s why I wanted you to pick the spot, I wasn’t taking the responsibility of choosing to stay here.”
This exchange threw me … I’ve changed? How? What does that imply? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? i came to the conclusion that it’s neither. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s evolution in mentality, it’s acceptance of all things, it’s joy, it’s faith, it’s peace … its age. As much as I fight it, as much as I deny myself the physical aspects of aging, my mind, my heart are affected by age. I’m calmer, I think things through more, I don’t fly off the handle at ALL little things (some, sure, but not all), I’ve tapered my wants, I’ve found peace in simplicity and I’ve found peace in following a path less traveled. I have, without a doubt, evolved mentally.
I’ve grown from the city girl who felt she would own the world, the girl who felt anything short of the St. Regis was below her to the girl who is content merely owning her life, who lives in an RV, showers in public bath houses and occasionally the river. I’m the girl whose nail polish is never perfect, the girl whose clothes are not designer, whose hair is always in a ponytail and whose shoes are for the trail, not the catwalk. I’m the girl who is more at home in the woods than in a mall. This is astounding to me! When I first met Dan, I despised camping, now it’s how I live. When I first met Dan, I wanted to be a high powered DC player … now I just want to be a mom and a wife.
When I first met Dan, money was my driving factor — I was a child of society. High School, College (without question), job, marriage, house, kids, job, job, job, retirement, old age — that was my designed path. I fell for it, for a little while, but when marriage and kids came before college graduation and job security and house I re-thought the “plan”. It wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to see my family a few hours per day. I wanted everything backwards from the lives I saw people living. I wanted life to be my family and work to be secondary. Children change everything! I shucked the makeup for an extra 5 minutes of sleep in the am. I eliminated the pricey hair cuts and color for a very well stocked basket of hair ties (and food on the table). Heels went by the wayside as sandals were more suited to jumping in puddles and stomping through mud. As baby food and finger painting and wrestling began to form my days, designer clothes were nothing short of ridiculous.
If you had told me I would be “that” mom 20 years ago, I’d have told you that you were all kinds of crazy. But today, I am that mom. My kids have created a focus in my life that is solely based on love and sacrifice! That’s mental growth that even my mother couldn’t understand or deny!
Growth means acceptance, with age comes not lack of ambition, but more or less knowledge of what’s important. Our priorities change. At one time early in our marriage, all we wanted was to make $30k a year, then $50k and with each rise in pay, our expenses and our desire for more grew. We were never content. Today, as we approach our 40’s we have new priorities! Dan & I will never become complacent, we’ll never ever think “this is good enough”, we’ll always strive for more but what the more is has drastically changed. It’s not more in the terms of new cars or fancy kitchens or the most beautiful furniture or designer clothing or all the other things that I used to think defined who I was and our success level. Instead, today our more is defined by time and fun.
Faith, Family & Fun … that’s our motto. I want more time. I’ll never have enough time of Coby being a baby, or Rowdy being 6, or Kerry being a teen. But each minute, the time I’m given has to be good time. I want every minute to be fun and filled with love and happiness. Whether it’s doing school or changing the oil or playing in the pool or kayaking … I don’t want to waste precious time being anything but joyful. Money is great, it can make life a little more comfortable, it can afford opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, but money has always been our struggle and if I have to have a struggle, which we all do, I might as well stick with the known struggle, the one we’ve learned to deal with and sometimes skirt. As Dan says, “I don’t want real troubles.”
Joy is life. It is God, it is family and it is life. You can choose to be joyful and to represent that joy in all you do, or you can choose misery and pity. Sometimes joy is difficult to choose, life is tough, your co-worker is driving you crazy, your children are waging tyranny, your spouse is being selfish, your car broke down … there are countless scenarios that you encounter everyday that want to steal your joy. That’s the devil! It’s so easy to succumb! So easy to feel sorry for yourself, to think you’re the only one who does anything, to think that you’re treated horribly, that you’re alone … the devil rejoices when you retreat into a womb of despair. Faith, hope and love is what keeps us going. Faith that God has you covered, that even the smallest of trials reap great rewards. Faith that in the end nothing matters short of getting into heaven and ensuring those you love have the same goal.
Joy is smiling through the bad. It is revelling in the good. It’s being a light in the darkness for others to guide their way. It is loving with all your heart the people God has blessed you with. In love you find joy and peace. In faith you find love and peace and joy. I can’t imagine a life without faith, a life in which I believed I held all the answers, a life that promised nothing and was for nothing. Life in all its moments is a gift meant to be lived fully.
1 Peter 4.12-19 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s surfferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.”