My coffee this morning is hazelnut, with a splash of creamer. There’s a row spindly, naked trees right outside the window. A couple weeks ago they were brilliantly yellow, but a recent evening of strong winds ripped every single leaf off them.
Today, I feel the need to ramble. I think the season brings this out in me–this contemplative state. The desire to journal all the time. And the desire to blog from my heart and not my head. It might not be pretty, or organized, or structured into an essay with an introduction, 3 supporting points, and a conclusion–but that’s okay, right?
Here, I’ll wait while you grab a cup of coffee.
One of the things I’m loving about my time in Chicago has been the time and energy to be creative. I blog. I’m in a band. I write music. I help with the worship team at my church. I cook, sometimes things a little too complicated for my own good. I’ve taken up photography.
I try to live a life of prayer and talk to God throughout the day, and I end up thanking God a lot for giving me a job that, for the first time in my life, doesn’t take all the energy out of me. Leaves me with enough fuel that when I leave the office, I have plenty left. It helps a lot that once I leave work, I don’t think about work. I don’t stress about it, so I can engage in all sorts of other things.
And don’t think that this is because I somehow learned how to manage job-related stress–I never quite figured that one out. Instead, I received the totally unexpected gift of a job that simply doesn’t entail any. This is new for me . . .well, ‘new’ as in ‘2 years old.’
Anyway, while I love dipping my fingers in every single one of those creative pots, I have to say that in particular, being a part Thornfield has meant so much to me. The musical revival in my soul–that has been wrought largely through Eric and Carrie, and forming our band–is just such a joy. However, as soon as I started making music with them, a small voice in my head piped up and said “It’s great you’re enjoying this so much–but it ain’t gonna last forever.”
As much as that may sound pessimistic, it’s probably true. Eric wants to pursue a music composition graduate degree, and it looks like that may not be happening in Chicago. During the summer, Carrie sent me an email telling me that he was probably applying for schools in North Carolina, in Ohio–even Northern Ireland (and as of this past weekend, that process has begun). The moment I read those lines, I felt my heart drop. I leaned forward on my desk and felt the tears gathering in my eyes. I had known this moment could come, but to hear that plans were actually being made, plans that could take my friends far away and scatter our little band to the wind, made all my insides clench in sorrow. Will this be the end of my musical life . . . again?
That evening, I talked it out with my husband. “Baby,” I mused, “if Carrie and Eric move away, I don’t know if music will keep such a central place in my life. I mean, I love making music, I love writing music, but I’m not the main act. I’m not a soloist. I don’t know if I would have the motivation to continue without them.” The tears were swifty gathering again; besides losing two great friends, I could just see all my musical joy from the past two years falling like a bowling ball from the sky, and creating a big, spiky hole in my heart.
At that point, my husband said something really wise. He said, “You know Jenna, you didn’t really do music during the 3 years we were in Delaware, but those were still 3 great years. There are going to be phases in your life, and just because music leaves again doesn’t mean it won’t come back.”
Hearing his words was like a breath of fresh air in my soul.
A lightbulb turned on. I realized that I have talents, but that not all of them will be called upon or used at all times in my life–and that’s okay. Just because they go dormant for a while doesn’t mean they’re dead. There will be periods of life in which music will be central–and there have been (and probably will be again) periods during which it’s in the background. Or even deeply slumbering. There will be times when I’m called to put my talents and energies fully into my job: this was the case during my first 5 years of employment. I didn’t have a lot left over for anything else–but that was okay. Now, I have the privilege to spend my time outside of work (and at work when it’s slow) doing things I love like singing and photo shoots and blogging. And looking towards the future, if we’re blessed with children, there may be a number of years during which my talents and energy are used almost exclusively to help grow and care for those kiddos, and to be the best wife and companion I can to my husband. I may not have time to keep performing and writing and blogging and photographing–and yet even if I lay these things aside that right now are so important to me, it won’t be a waste.
Do you ever have future scenarios play out in your mind like a movie? Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I do all the time. Especially when I’m in the shower. One of them is this: one day, I will be washing dishes for the umpteenth time. Children will be clamoring for my attention, I will have glops of spit-up on my shirt, there will be a million and a half ‘menial’ tasks to do, and I will think “Wait! This isn’t worth my time! I’m smart enough and talented enough to do bigger things than cleaning a diaper! Once upon a time I was a successful site manager in a high-stress sales office, by gum! Why am I washing dishes . . . again???” And then, in this vision, a voice of wisdom pipes up and says “So signing off on a review or a budget is more important than feeding a living human being?” And I realize that just because I have the ability to have some job and create some budget doesn’t mean I’m called to do that.
And just because I have the ability to sing and play the guitar doesn’t mean I’m called to do that in every season of my life.
You know that phrase “The need is not the call”? Well, the talent is not the call either.
I have talents. God will give me different seasons in which different talents and abilities will come into the foreground, or fade into the background. The main point is love. Not maximizing your potential in order to make money or be seen as a success or feel good about yourself–but maximizing love.
I find great freedom in this. Whether in the future I’m a stay-at-home mom, a mom with a career outside the home, or not a mom at all, God is in control. He will bring new seasons and phase the old ones out. He promises peace and joy for each season, no matter what. If I ever have to ‘give up’ music or blogging, it’s not necessarily forever. I need to embrace what God brings my way without fear, and have great hope for the future. And whatever life holds, whether Thornfield is around for 1 more year or 10 more years, I will make music with Eric and Carrie for thousands of years in the Kingdom. And I’ll probably keep on blogging–because who says that all technology will fall by the wayside up in the heavenlies?