Her dining room is perfect. All exposed beams and white washed walls, shelves littered with glasses of every kind. Windows cover two of the walls, the late night light filtering in, refusing to acknowledge the closing of the day. The table is littered with the leftovers from our meal, mostly empty plates and full stomachs.
We sit and we drink our red wine out of old mason jars and pickle jars, watching the light dance through our cups.
Beautiful women, sitting around a table, each of us shines with the love of the King. We’ve been shaped and molded so exquisitely, so purposefully. Brought to this place to love, to laugh, to encourage. We are moms and sisters, wives and daughters. And to each other, friends, confidantes, partners in life.
It’s a Tuesday, so of course no one thinks that anything can happen at all. It’s the lazy day of the week, meant to be dealt with, endured, rarely enjoyed.
But we did. Enjoy it, that is. We choose joy on Tuesdays.
And as the light of day finally surrendered, I watched and listened and joined in as five women shared the joys and struggles of finding contentment.
Of growing older while everyone else is still younger. Of giving more while everyone else is giving less. Of loving where we are instead of wondering why we aren’t where we thought we’d be.
I listened to the quiet murmurs of tentative hope, of resolute faith, of confused fear.
“Is this what He has for me?”
“Do I have to be okay with this?”
Inevitably, the passage of time dominates our conversation, its quick and sneaky pace, all the more rapid as the years go by. There’s the “How did we get here?” and “I’m getting so old,” and “What am I doing with my life?”
There’s a birthday coming up. It’s not mine, but my heart still groans a little at the thought of my next one. Because birthdays? Two of us hate them, one of us loves them, and one of us has grown to love them.
Because for her? That passing of a year is no longer a day to consider everything she doesn’t have. Everything she was supposed to do by the time the years had placed her here.
That birthday is an opportunity to write down everything she does have. Everything she has been given. Every person she is blessed to call friend and family.
And she does it, truly. Pencil on paper, line after line, she fills pages and pages with all that she has been blessed with.
And between all those lines, wedged firmly between those pages, she has found that in focusing on where she is at instead of where she thinks she should be going has settled her solidly in a place of contentment.
I remember something said to me once. “Being content means being okay with where you are at on the way to where you are going.”
I used to like it. But I’m not sure I do anymore.
Why do we have to be going anywhere?
Perhaps true contentment arises not from the expectation that something better is down the road, but instead from complete and absolute surrender to the King. Right now. Perhaps in that surrender, we find satisfaction in where we are. Regardless of where we will be tomorrow.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
I hear her voice again, across the table. “But is this what He has for me?”
Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.
I desperately wish I could tell her yes or no.
Yet either way, perfect peace doesn’t come from knowing. It comes from trusting.
The refrain from an old lovely hymn dances through my head.
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
[It is Well With My Soul: Horatio Spafford]
It makes me think of my dad. That idea, of a soul being well.
I can picture him on his boat. His movements effortless, his awareness acute, his practice, after years of growing and learning, perfected.
It’s that flat time of morning, when the ocean has yet to be tossed by the wind, the seagulls are still hunkered down for the night, and a soul can’t help but be stirred as the sun rises over the water.
If you watch him, you will see that he is a man content in his place in the world. A man comfortable with what the King has given him. A man content in the goodness of the King, the faithfulness of His promises.
A man who trusts that today he will walk in what the King has for him, regardless of what tomorrow brings.
My dad, I think, could have taught a few things to the women around that table.
Whatever my lot. Whatever He has for me.
It is well in my dad’s soul.