The other day, I was walking through campus back towards my apartment. I had just taken a class at the gym over lunch and was dressed in my yoga pants, bright pink top, messy high ponytail bopping on the side of my head, and fuzzy walking boots.
The next block of classes on campus were minutes from starting, and I weaved my way through the strands of students, like a fisch swimming up stream.
I was in my zone; earbuds blasting hip-hop music, as my duffel bag bounced off my hip with each step. My nose and ears began to sting in the frigid air, and my mind was on one thing: lunch before my next conference call.
Whack. My bag swung into a student’s leg as I underestimated the space between us.
“Oops! Sorry about that.” – I glanced back to make apologetic eye contact with my victim. Their hand popped up with the don’t worry about it wave, as they continued on towards class, dressed as if they’d just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog.
I chuckled to myself as I thought about how odd I must look passing through such a classy crowd, in my overly neon outfit in the middle of the day. At least my chosen yoga pants didn’t say “JUICY” on the butt.
That would have scored me a point with Reese Witherspoon, but probably not with the politicians and CEOs that frequented campus.
I passed the security guard in his warm hut stationed outside my building, and the Uber drivers waiting by the curb for their passengers. Digging through my pocket for my keys, I let myself into the building and stopped in the lobby to scan the Amazon boxes that had been delivered.
For whatever reason, it had become part of my routine to check the names on the boxes every time I walked by, even when I knew I hadn’t ordered anything. I laughed again as I thought about how much this illogical obsession of mine drove Big Fisch crazy.
But he wasn’t with me right then; I was free to really go wild, and read every box two times over.
I headed to the elevator and made my way up to my floor. I walked along the dingy hallway that smelt just as funky as ever, and when I got to my door, I did what I often do –
I forced myself to pause for a second as I first walked inside. My eyes scanned over my desk, our sofa, our view out the sliding glass door, our bedroom, and the kitchen. This was my little world.
My strange, peculiar, current world full of odd routines.
I thought about how this stage of life, like most, has it’s long list of complaints, and long list of joys. There are good days and there are hard days; days where I feel like I’m flourishing, and days where I feel like I’m losing my ever-loving mind; days where I lift up praises and days where I lift up shaking fists.
You see, it’s easy for me to walk in, toss my bag down, and kick off my shoes, cursing the stained carpet (which is so bad, no mother would ever let their child crawl on it), and feel irritation at the many things I wish I could change in my life.
But I knew my perspective and outlook was often the single greatest determining factor of how my day went. I could allow myself to grab hold of frustration, or I could practice choosing joy.
As I stood in the doorway, I reflected on how this stage of life, with all it entails, was going to go by so fast; even the winter days that dragged on, leaving me feeling like Rapunzel locked up in a tower. (Except instead of forest creatures, I had a construction crew out the window to talk to.)
The truth was it would be gone before long, and I really didn’t want to miss the treasures it held. Because that’s what we do far too often with stages of our life, do we not? We see the pain points and the inconveniences more than we see the opportunities and blessings, and we’re quick to wish it away.
Mentally we’re already on to the next phase, and yet we always wonder why time seems to fly by us.
So I stood for a brief moment to take in what was there; that which I could see and that which I couldn’t.
And as my mind filed through the many things I did and didn’t like, I thought about how life’s stages in all their highs and lows are simply…stages.
I don’t think they are something to despise, nor are they something to boast of. All stages will behold moments of great beauty and moments that create new scars or surface old ones. On this side of heaven, it’s never all easy; never all pretty.
Some stages will bring great joy, and others sorrow and pain. But this I know to be true…each stage offers us another chance to grow and refine our character and faith. It offers us a chance to have our eyes opened to all that the Lord wants us to learn here, in the now; preparing us for what is to come.
Each stages gives us the opportunity to build and strengthen our muscles of flexibility, durability, adaptability… (and all those other adjectives ending in “bility”). It becomes a practice in spotting blessings in the midst of imperfection.
The question becomes, will we take advantage of it?
Even on my hard days, I sure want to try.
All too soon I will miss the uniqueness of this stage of my life. I will miss living in close proximity to so many friends, and I will miss the freedom to wear neon gym clothes all day as I work from home, if I so desire.
Tomorrow I will sip my coffee as the construction crew bangs away outside my window at 7AM. I will read the names on the newly delivered boxes two, maybe three times, and I will remind myself to enjoy the treasures in each odd routine.