Over the past few days I read a book called Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. It’s the story of a friendship that spans decades. The friends are two girls, then women, named Kate and Tully. Kate has a great family and modest goals. She wants to get married and have a family. She is suggestible and kind of gets pulled along by her best friend for a long time. Tully is success driven. Tully shoots for the stars. She is a whirlwind.
I definitely relate to Kate, especially when the other option is Tully. When I was younger I would consistently get in trouble for an idea that my friend cooked up and I just went along with. Plus, I am content. I am content to stay at home, to go to the same restaurants, to be the one who dog sits, baby sits, house sits. To be a first grade teacher, not a principal.
A pastor or chapel speaker or someone once said that some of us are called to the mission field and some of us are called to sit with the stuff. I know I live in a foreign country but I am very much a “sit with the stuff” kind of person. I am content being behind the scenes, behind the screen, organizing and paperwork-ing and doing things that enable whatever show it is to run.
For a long time (read: high school) I pretended that wasn’t the case and that what I really wanted and what I really liked was being the center of attention and everyone’s friend. I said, “yes!” to every social engagement and youth group function. I was who I wanted to be. Fake it till you make it, my motto from day one.
During my first summer with YouthWorks (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I trace so much good stuff back to that summer it’s insane) I felt no real need to hide behind who I thought I should want to be since I was only going to know the people I was living and working with for 10 weeks. (Spoiler alert: those people are still my friends five years later.) I was myself, unapologetically so. And they loved me for it! Not, they loved me anyway, but they loved me for it. They valued my organization! They made room for my stay at home-ness!
And in doing that they gave me permission and freedom to want to be who I actually was, instead of who I thought I should be. So that’s who I am. The organizer. The homebody. I honestly enjoy paperwork and filing and lesson planning. Spreadsheets are *heart eyes.*
BUT as Liz Lemon once so eloquently put it – “Society.”
Sometimes, like Kate in Firefly Lane and like my high school self, I think that who I actually am is kind of lame and maybe I should want to be more. Maybe I should be the one running around all over the place while someone dog sits and house sits for me. Isn’t that the ideal? The American dream? A full schedule and jet setting and success and recognition and being the smiling one in the center of a bajillion friends? Nevermind that I don’t actually want to do that, maybe I should want that.
In the middle of Firefly Lane Kate was thinking along the same lines. She looked at her life and she looked at her best friend Tully’s life and she found hers lacking. Heartbreaking. And oh so #relatable. Just the other day I looked at my life and I looked at my best friend’s life and I found mine lacking. So when I read Kate’s feelings I cried.
BUT I KEPT READING, praise the Lord. Because at the end of the story (which is actually super tragic and heartbreaking but with some great life lessons) Kate says, in a letter to her children:
That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life; that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the time line of your youth and middle age, but that isn’t it at all.
Love. Family. Laughter. That’s what I remember when it’s all said and done. For so much of my life I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed – you and Daddy and I. I had everything I ever wanted.
Love. That’s what we remember.
And boom. I was recentered. Reaffirmed. My belief in the power of fiction was restored and renewed. Because that is really what matters to me. Those words sum up the hopes and dreams of my life. To be useful in the kingdom. To love justly and serve humbly and write the words that God tells me to write and, as I’ve been saying since I was eleven, to love the kids who have no one else to love them. To build a family through adoption and to be a homebody and an organizer and to serve people in those ways because that’s who I was created to be.