Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Happier, Non-Dissertation Post.

I know I said I wasn’t planning to do dissertation blogging this week, and I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I felt like blogging anything at all. This is an introspective time of year, and there is, if anything, too much introspection in my life these days. A little break from that has been nice. And I’m never much for New Year’s sentimentality.

However, 2015 was a good year in our household, and I wanted to mention a couple of those positive things which have had nothing to do with my dissertation.

First, we were thrilled to be able to do some traveling earlier in the year, making it to California not once, but twice—first to visit family at the start of the year (the first time we’d seen my in-laws in almost three years), and later to Berkeley so that Kevin could receive his M.A. from the Graduate Theological Union.  It was our first time back in five years. 

I have often thought back on the Berkeley years as being remarkably difficult, dislocated ones, and while I don’t doubt the accuracy of those memories, I was surprised how many positive associations I felt . . . Looking at the familiar vendors along Telegraph, eating at Bongo Burger ( . . .possibly more than once), finally making the steep hike into the Hills to see the Rose Garden—something I’d wanted to do when we lived there, but probably wasn’t in good enough shape to manage at the time, or confident enough to venture on my own. That was an oddly triumphant moment for me. 

I suppose many of these feelings had to do with coming back a little different and a little older. Certainly our life doesn’t look the way I imagined it would back then—we didn’t guess, for instance, that Kevin would be walking for an M.A. instead of a Ph.D. after making a dramatic career switch—but I don’t think I would trade any of the experiences.

The other major development, of course, was our house—speaking of things I didn’t expect. I had hoped for a home of our own someday, but the possibility was hardly on my radar screen a year ago. We began looking at homes shortly after returning from Berkeley in mid-May (very much on a whim, initially), ultimately placed three different offers, and had an offer accepted on June 29. Not even six weeks later, we moved into our very own little place. Thanks to our wonderful realtors, as well as the surprisingly happy-go-lucky attitude with which we approached the thing, we enjoyed the process more often than not. We had been content in our city apartment (though we’d frankly outgrown it), and the house-hunting was marked by a vague sense of wonder at finding ourselves grown-up enough for such a step. I think the combination of those things helped us feel fairly peaceful about whatever happened. Even now, it all feels a bit dreamlike to me. 

I don’t think the decision to buy this house was a strongly emotional one for either of us. I didn’t have a feeling of its being The Right House—but once we moved in, it has become that more and more. I’m still surprised how happy it has made me.

Both these things were great blessings for us, and I hope that both—time with family and continuing to set up our home—will be major themes of 2016 as well.

If you’ll pardon a last bit of introspection—I reflected recently that so often, I pray for a deeper walk with God and an assurance of his presence; and yet, when he allows things in my life that force me to depend on him moment by moment (such as attacks of anxiety I can’t really control, or laughably minor aches and pains, or nagging unknowns about the future), I immediately beg for them to be taken away. Kind of ruefully funny at times, but a certain mark of the Fall all the same. Not that it’s wrong in itself to ask for His rescue—but I hope I won’t be so quick to overlook the opportunities the Lord gives to deepen my delight in Him, and not in my circumstances. He is so very gracious to do that, and to give comfort through the fellowship of His people, as I’ve found many times through this blog in recent months. Thank you guys, again, for your part in that.

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