Weak and Foolish

The mom just looked at me while I tried to tell her what I ‘plan to do’ with my life.  Honestly, that has to be the scariest question you can ask a teenager!  And as I explained the calling I feel God has put on my life, the woman’s eyebrows just moved farther and farther up.

See, I was trying to summarize this whole calling in a relatively short amount of time, and that’s hard to do, because it’s a long story.  The version she got was that when I was very sick (most definitely the darkest time in my illness), God placed a clear calling on my heart.  He told me that I was going to the Newlife International School of Midwifery in the Philippines.  This in itself is a long story, but it’s not the point of this post, so I won’t tell it in detail.  Suffice it to say, I know that it was God that moved in my spirit, and I do not doubt one bit that that is what I heard.

Okay, so Philippines it is.  After spending about a year and a half researching and preparing for this particular (tiny) school on the southernmost island of the Philippines, God switches it up a little.  Ever had one of those things that just drops into your lap, and won’t go away?  Somehow it starts to come up EVERYWHERE, and you start to pay attention?  Yeah.  That.

All of a sudden it became clear that going for a Certified Nurse Midwife degree in the States (versus the Certified Professional Midwife degree in the Philippines) is the direction my life is going.  And when I say clear, I mean crystal.  People were coming out of the woodwork, giving me this message right and left!!  Okay God.  You have my attention.  CNM it is.  Begin research process.

Things begin to fall into place, and I’m on my way.  Completely confident and satisfied in the direction my life is going.

Enter nosey mom.  This woman is not my mother (thank you Jesus), but here she stands before me, interrogating me about my plans.  We’re in a quiet hallway surrounded by many friends laughing and joking, but I feel like this is a test of my worth.

She finds out that my current plan is to go to my local community college for a few years, get my associates in nursing, and transfer out to a bigger medical school for my bachelors in nursing and then masters in midwifery.  I swear this woman’s eyebrows are going to jump off her face.

She looks at me and says, dead serious, “Why in the world would you want to go to community college?”  I can see it now.  I am that kid.  The one homeschooler NOT starting off at a prestigious medical school from the beginning.  As if I’m defective.

Well, community college is cheaper, and will give me a few years at home to prep for living on my own.  That, and I’m not ready to jump into society.  That, and the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE kind of put it in my path…  Other than that, no reason.

Again, her eyebrows.  But now the lips get in on the action too – puckering into an unattractive, wrinkly mass of lipstick.  “You know that if your PSAT scores are good you can get a scholarship.”

I didn’t take the PSAT.  I was too sick at the time to get out of bed.

“Well, your SAT scores then.  National Merit Scholars can go to any school they want.  That’s how my daughter can afford her school of choice.”

How nice for your daughter.  Woman, I didn’t take the SAT.  I know you’re supposed to take it somewhere between 2 and 7 times before you graduate, I just never did.

And I see it written across her face.  Defective.  I am the screw-up of this prestigious group of homeschoolers.  I am the only one here who hasn’t taken the PSAT and the SAT.  I’m probably the only one who’s not a National Merit Scholar!  I haven’t duel enrolled my whole high school, I haven’t applied to any colleges, and I’m not getting a scholarship to the best college in the country.

“Well I’m sure you’ll do great.”  Interpretation – have a nice life you screw-up.

This encounter took place several months ago and has weighed heavily on me since then.  It threw me into a deep depression that lasted for several weeks.  I didn’t have the motivation to eat food.  The things this woman had said were so hurtful and damaging that they pushed me into a level of hopelessness I haven’t been for almost a year.

When I told my mom about it she was ready to punch someone out (thank you Jesus that this is the mom I do have!).  She enabled me to dig through my emotions until I found the root of the whole issue.  What is the real problem here?

I haven’t done enough, I’m not in the right starting place.  How can I graduate in a few months?  I am so behind!  Everyone is better than me.  I’m not good enough.

This is the lie that was seeded into my heart by that ‘concerned’ mom.  In her efforts to somehow better me, she had dragged me down.

My beautiful, wise mother reminded me of something so important, I’m amazed I had forgotten it.  I am not on this path in my life because of laziness or lack of trying.  I’m not here because I’m not good enough.  I’m here because God has put me here. 

It may not look like the ‘best’ way to do things.  But how can my life be judged through the lens of what others are doing?  Should I accept the World’s good over God’s best for me?

I may not be doing what people think I should.  This is where God’s put me.  So this is where I’m going to stay.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the
weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27


Voices in the Wind

I see flashes of red and gold blow by the window. I am safe here, protected from the wind and the chill.  I should be content to stay here in the house.  Should be.  But something is calling me, pulling me.  It’s tugging at the little hollow place where my ribs come together.  The center of my being.

I yank on my boots.  Warm and black and rubbery.  Designed to keep out wet and dirt.  I wrap the yellow scarf around my neck.  Bright and happy.  Why am I not content to stay in this refuge from the outside world?  Something is out there, drawing me on.

In my haste I slam my fingers in the closet door.  Pain!  Flash of white hot light!  I consider stopping to get some ice to calm the throbbing in my hand.  No time, no time!  Nothing can divert me from reaching out and answering that call.

One step and I’ve left the safety and protection of the house.  A chill runs down my spine as a cool breeze toys with my hair.  I can feel it here too, even stronger than before.  The desperation in the hollow of my stomach is large and round and hard, pushing out all other thoughts and feelings.

Down the gravel path, crunching, grey, determined.  I see the trees before me, purple and orange and red.  They are waving to me, beckoning to me, inviting me to join them.  I run, almost fall, keep running.  I must get to the woods!  The pulsing in my chest is so strong, I know I’m close.  If only I can reach it before it overcomes me!

Suddenly the path is no longer gravel.  The moist earth beneath me, spongy and welcoming.  Shadows fall across me, and I am here.  The insistence in myself that was so consuming is now gone, leaving in its place a quiet.  I listen.  Whispers of the leaves as they fall from above, joining their brothers and sisters on the ground.  Creaking and groaning of trees as they speak to each other.  If only I knew what they were saying.

Burst!  A fresh gust of wind blows through the majestic trunks, swirling and wrapping around them like a river.  It takes hold of my hair and throws it in all directions.  It blows in my ears and eyes and nose, sniffing me, touching me, testing me.

I can understand!  “What a strange being to be out here in the wide cold world” says the gust blowing through my clothes.

Why are you here?” demands the powerful wind wrapping around my neck.

My throat feels hoarse.  Dare I speak?  Will human words uttered out loud defile this moment and break the spell?  But if I don’t answer will they abandon me, thinking me to be only another dumb creature, lumbering by and taking no notice?

So I whisper as softly as I can, afraid of the sound of my own voice, “I was called here.”

Oh!” they all cry and go rushing away.  I feel deflated, as if they have left and taken a piece of me along with them.

But then I feel the slightest tug on my shirt.  A little breeze, that I hadn’t notice before among all the turmoil, had remained.  It must have been a young wind, for it was very small, hardly more than a breath of air.  It climbs up my body until it reaches my ear.  I can barely hear it, but it trills in its gentle whispery breath “I know what you’re looking for.  I can take you there if you wish.”  I only nod my head, terrified that I will startle this one too, and it will leave me as well.  Yet, as small as it is, it must be the bravest of all the Winds for it stays with me.

Gently, ever so gently, it wraps itself around my hand and leads me deeper into the woods.  Farther and farther, how far I do not know.  I am too captivated by the magic of the situation to notice much else.  Finally we stop.  We’ve reached a clearing ringed by trees.  The sunlight breaks through the leaves here, dancing on the ground carpeted in a soft and welcoming bed of leaves.

All is still for a moment and I’m afraid that the little breeze has left me, but I had no reason to fear.  Quiet, ever so quiet, I hear the word “Listen.”

At first all I hear is the tumultuous sound of my own breathing.  Slowly it returns to normal.  The bump, bump, bumping of my heartbeat in my ears.  The throb, throb, throbbing in my hand returns.  I am impatient, waiting to hear…what?

Then something inside me clicks.  I hear them.  The voices of the leaves.  They are quiet, oh so quiet, I would never be able to hear one by itself.  Together, they sing their song.  They sing of dying, slowly dying, but not to no end.  They are dying so that there can be new life.  They sing of the One that came before them, the One they model themselves after.  He, too, died to bring the world New Life.

The trees add their voices to the song, singing of winters past, and the winter to come.  Singing, knowing it will be hard, but they will make it through, and will be even stronger on the other side.

The sunlight laughs, shining on everything, bringing light to all.  No matter how great the cold, or deep the frost, or painful the change, it will always be there.  Singing, laughing, bringing joy to all who look upon it.

The wind returns, adding its harmony to the others.  Determined.  Persistent.  The wind bears the task of changing the seasons, bringing warm and cool air, each in their turn.  It sings of always moving, never resting.  Touching all and seeing all, it tells of places unseen and stories untold.  No one knows from where it comes, or the place to which it goes.

I listen.  I can hear them!  The song that they all sing, the tales that they tell, the lessons that they all have for those who are willing to listen.

Slowly the sun begins to sink, drawing night into the world.  Shadows deepen, and all prepare for sleep.  I can still hear their song, but I am now aware of my body as well.  There is no telling how long I’ve been standing here, in rapture to the words I was hearing for the first time.  I am shaking, chilled to the core.  My muscles ache, complaining of the strain I’ve so uncaringly put on them.  I know I must go in, but I never want to leave this place.  I want to stay and listen.  I want to hear the strains of snow adding its beautiful voice to the others.  I want to listen as the flowers emerge and life returns to the world.  But I know that even if I go in now, I will be able to return and listen to the songs of nature once again.

For once you have learned their language, you will always hear Voices in the Wind.

This is a story I wrote a long time ago, but just recently re-read.  I hadn’t remembered why I’d liked it so much, but I think I reminded myself.  For that is the power of writing.  To capture the world you see in your head, to share it with others, to preserve it so you can re-enter the land of your dreams.  I don’t want to be a professional writer.  But I love it.


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