Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Full of It

I lead a full life.

My life is full of adventure. I've had opportunities to travel all over the place, and I continue to take advantage of every chance I get to see the world. I face challenges every day: trying to figure out what God is saying and then attempting to articulate it to my congregation, trying to be an instrument of transformation in the world, doing things each day that scare me a little.

My life is full of people. I'm surrounded by a congregation of characters. They are unique, fascinating people that I get to interact with every day. I'm surrounded by friends, kind, passionate people who make me laugh and think. I have a family that's incredibly loving and supportive, and it's growing all the time (welcome, Navah!)

My life is full. I have stuff to do 24/7. My schedule is busy, and my activities are fulfilling. It's just... it's not full of what I expected.

A few days ago, in a discussion about our future plans, I was describing to a friend the way I expect my career progression to go. She interjected the question, "When do you want to have kids?" I paused, then replied with a sinking heart, "Well, I doubt if I will. There are no guys on the horizon, so I'm not really even considering that in making my decision." It's the first time, I think, that I've actually admitted those thoughts out loud.

I never expected to reach my mid-twenties, still single, still with no plans for marriage and children. I had, without realizing it, really bought into the social expectations of marriage and kids. Every time I envisioned my future, thinking, "Ten years from now, I'll be... Five years from now I'll be..." I always imagined I'd be married. Always. As much as I denied it aloud, my internal expectation was always to have a family.

But now... it really doesn't look like that will happen. I mean, sure, people always say, "You'll meet the right guy someday," or "It just takes one," or "God has someone really special for you, you just haven't met him yet." But the thing is, I'm not sure that's true. Call me pessimistic, but I don't know that I'll ever marry, I don't know that I'll ever have a family of my own. And I have to decide: is that OK with me?

Last week I witnessed the birth of my new niece. I held her in my arms just a few minutes after her birth. I watched the tears of joy in my brother-in-law's eyes, I saw the delight on my sister's face as she saw her daughter for the first time. I didn't hear my biological clock ticking in my ears, I didn't long for a child of my own. But the next day, when I watched my sister and brother-in-law introducing their daughters to one another for the first time, when I saw them sharing joy as a family, part of me felt like I was missing something.

My life is full: full of adventure, full of people, full of activities. I have fulfilling work and fulfilling relationships. But is it enough? If this is all there ever is, if I have a full life and an empty apartment, is that enough? Is it OK if my life plan looks so very different from society's expectations, from even what I had envisioned for myself?

In John 10:10b, Jesus says, "I came that they might have life, and have it to the full." Is this the sort of fullness of life to which I'm called?