I was talking to a friend earlier this week who was calling me back off the ledge. I was having a rare moment of exasperation at the fact that everything in my life these days feels so “in the middle.” We know the future will look different at some point but all the pieces haven’t come together yet. I feel somewhat stuck in the mud as I wonder what’s next and can’t do anything to get “there” any quicker. Wherever the elusive “there” might end up being.
Its such a weird feeling to have your life feel on hold. Upon reflection I will say that PMS does NOT help here in the slightest. I swear I was holding back every urge to grab all of my dishes off the shelf and throw them one by one onto the concrete slab out our back step as therapy.
As Heather and I talked though I mentioned to her again how this story of Jacob we’ve been reading lately is like God’s weekly nudge in my direction to pay attention. This entire story is the decades long saga of one man’s overwhelming longing to be blessed by God and how he both succeeds and fails (often miserably) to help himself towards God’s best for him.
Heather said something funny after I mentioned this long journey to joy. She said “You know Courtney…its not like Jacob didn’t have anything to smile about while he waited for his promised land. He married and had plenty of children during those twenty plus years. Each of those events would have been cause for joy.”
I really needed to hear this and it brought me back to what we had just listened to this past Sunday. In Genesis 33, Jacob is literally in between camps and neither of these places are his final destination. He’s leaving his conniving Uncle’s land and entering his brother’s territory – a brother whom he cheated out of his rightful inheritance two decades prior. To say that he’s in the middle of the unknown would be an understatement as he’s probably concerned that either his Uncle is pursuing him from behind or his brother is out to get him from the front.
But Genesis 33 is this really cool prodigal son chapter where Esau runs out to meet Jacob and gives him a tearful hug and looks in awe at Jacob’s wives and children and says “Look at all that you’ve been blessed with!” Jacob agrees and tries to convince Esau to take a large portion of his livestock as a gift for his kind dismissal of Jacob’s earlier actions. A cultural process of denial and acceptance of the gift ensues until Jacob finally insists Esau take the almost 300 animals from his flock by saying:
“because God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” -Gen. 33:11
Ah, I just love this line.
As of this moment nothing has changed since that phone call with Heather on Monday. I still feel very much in limbo about most things in my life right now. But there was something about reading this again later that Monday afternoon. Ellie wouldn’t take a nap because she was all stuffed up with a cold and I was tempted to lose my mind once again as I also had the cold by this point and we both needed the rest. But I remember looking down in a moment of frustration and seeing a bag of chocolate chips on the table that I had picked up randomly at the grocery store the other day. Baking has never really been my thing but I remember thinking maybe we could figure something out some afternoon and threw them into my basket.
I reached up to the top shelf of our pantry and grabbed the recipe book that I’d leafed through a few weeks before and discovered that I had just enough flour and eggs and cocoa powder to turn these chocolate chips into homemade fudge walnut brownies. With Ellie strapped in her seat at the table I could engage her as my “helper” and make it a fun activity for us both to get involved with.
I don’t want to make this event more romantic than it was. I was still tired and kind of grumpy and I’ve truly never been all that excited by the process of baking. But for some reason making a pan of brownies was the activity we needed to get through a frustrating day. Once they cooled down we wrapped some of them up and took them to Ellie’s favorite people at the YMCA who watch her when I both work and work out. She totally dropped the whole plate on the ground on the way into the building but we all got over it and ate them anyway. We enjoyed the brownies and talked about the best way to eat them (cold, from the fridge, with cold milk. AMAZING) and after a while went on our merry way back home.
I can’t help but think back to that day and how kind of centering it was to make a pan of brownies from scratch with my kid when I couldn’t figure out what was next.
I think this is how you go from one camp to another camp without losing your mind. You look around and realize that while you might not have everything you want you probably have everything you need to do the next right thing. And then you do it. If you can, you invite some people in to do it with you or you offer them some of what you’ve put together while on your way to the next thing after that. Pretty soon, after doing this for a while, you might just realize when you look up that you’re almost there after all.