Those of you who have been with me for a week or more know that I am in the process of a major life change right now. I hate to be vague – that’s not like me – but the change is complicated by someone who does not want it to happen.
As this change is coming to be, my friends here in the blogosphere and in other online communities have been such a rich wellspring of support for me, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that. A dear friend said something to me yesterday, and it took me back years when I read it. What she said was that if she had the power to, she would remove the obstacles from my path, so that I could sail down it freely into my new life. And it was lovely to hear those words, to feel cared for and supported. I rested for a moment in how wonderful it will be when I am further down the path, and free from some of the things that cause me pain and frustration and grief.
But then, it took me back to 1997, another time of great pain and frustration and grief, when I seriously considered this same life change, but was not healthy or strong or mature enough to bring it to pass. It was in 1997 when I learned one of the stinkiest, crappiest, rottenest lessons of adulthood: there is no Prince Charming. There is no living happily ever after. There is not a white knight who can rescue me from all my pain and heartache and make everything beautiful and wonderful and happy forever. There is no one person who can give me everything I want and need. And it is wrong to expect anyone to be these things, or to expect them of oneself.
Now, this probably sounds a lot more blunt and bleak than reality actually is. Because reality is that there are lots of people out there who are ready and willing and able to give what they can. And we can get all of our needs met, but we have to know what those needs are and take responsibility for them ourselves. It’s not anyone else’s job but mine to make sure my needs are met. It’s wonderful to have a partner who is willing and able to help and support us, but it is not fair to that person to expect them to do everything and be everything.
This lesson, when it came, SUCKED. I don’t know if I can emphasize that enough. It was hard and painful, and it made me angry, and I railed against it for a long time. I was filled with fairy tales, Disney movies, where the solution to all of a young woman’s problems was The One Right Man, who instantly knew exactly what needed to be done, fixed everything, swept her off her feet, and guaranteed eternal happiness with a single kiss. I expected my husband to be The One Right Man, and he expected me to be the same for him (except, well, you know, not a man) – a sure recipe for disaster. However, I did come to learn the good news: there is happiness, and needs get met, and we can find love and peace and joy. The thing is, we have to be responsible for bringing these things into our own lives, and we have to work at them, and sometimes there is a cost. (Should that be usually? Always? I guess, studying economics, I know that there is a cost for everything, even if that is only in not choosing something different.)
What sucked even more was realizing that it was those obstacles, which caused me such frustration and grief, that were what formed and shaped me into the person I am today. I am not the person I was in 1997 – thank God! – and what little strength and wisdom and self-knowledge I have picked up along the way is due entirely to the problems I’ve faced, rather than the joys. So in a few years, I will be yet another person, different from the person I am today. I don’t know how the obstacles and griefs and frustrations I am facing will shape me. I pray that I will not become hardened and cynical and bitter, that I can remain trusting and loving and open to God’s grace in my life.