At the austere age of twenty, I had determined I would never do certain things in my life: date a cute guy named Andy Bowers who had just started working with me at Home Depot, major in English, go to the University of Virginia, drive a minivan, teach at a private school, and work in any capacity with junior high students.
Armed with such fierce convictions and ample goal-accomplishing horsepower, I set out to accomplish my dreams.
And though the Lord granted many of my desires, He also proceeded to dismantle every single one of my declarations over the next five years of my life. That cute guy in Home Depot? I dated and was engaged to him before I was twenty-one. My hatred for literary theory and the twisting of Story I had experienced throughout high school and community college rerouted into a burning desire to see C.S. Lewis taught in the most secular college I could find. (I figured this would be Oxford. God, of course, plopped me into Everett Community College). I had a BA and MA in English by twenty-two. Oh, and that Master’s Degree? It came from the University of Virginia. And by twenty-three, I was teaching at a small private college and working with junior high students in our Church’s Youth Ministry.
And I now own two minivans.
Just to prove that God was not done showing His mighty sovereignty, goodness – and sense of humor – He blessed us with a surprise pregnancy last September. And in January, we discovered it was twins. Boys. We laughed through the entire ultrasound.
My life has been rerouted by God many times. In my twenties, such detours were usually accompanied by much wailing of voice and wringing of hands. But every time, mostly in spite of myself, I arrived at the next exit with new spiritual muscles and a heart strengthened in faith and joy-capacity. It didn’t mean I didn’t hit potholes, get distracted from the road, or callus my hands with my death-grip on the disconnected steering wheel, but I have always ended somewhere good.
Twin boys is a pit-stop I never expected. I didn’t even see the sign five miles before the turn-off. Covid-19 was a strange hand-painted sign we ignored a few miles back – yet here most of us stand, a bit bewildered at this point of the journey, never expecting God would land us at this point in history.
This brief autobiographical interlude hopefully serves to illustrate that we serve a God who upends our petty plot-lines and reroutes our best-laid plans. In the midst of such redirecting, we do not want to be the flopping ninnies, the proud people of the concrete-necks, or the hand-fluttering fools of Folly. It’s one of the reasons I love literature so much – it teaches us to remember we are characters in a very large story, and we would be wise to consider just which character we are being.
I love ECS and I have loved teaching here, but this year will find me not teaching in any official capacity as I care for two little boys. (But I will still be doing administrative work, so I will haunt the halls.) How will I respond to this unforeseen change? We may come back to a new schedule, split days, and mask-wearing. Or complete normalcy. What kind of characters will we be in this next stage of the story? We haven’t traversed this part of the road-way yet; we aren’t sure what sort of amenities exist (or don’t) off this exit. We may not be able to find the proverbial bathroom, and in that moment, we all want to be the hero: resilient, strong, humble, courageous, and selfless. But more often than not, if we are really honest with ourselves, when God throws a trial, change, disappointment, or wardrobe in our way, we act far more like Edmund than we do Peter. I long to be valiant Eowyn, but in the moments of honest self-assessment, I am far more like Gollum, hunched over in a corner, fussing and fearing and obsessively loving my Facebook feed.
My prayer for the next year of ECS is that we will laugh as the right kinds of characters and rejoice in the journey. There are some twists and turns ahead on a narrow road – elections, mandates, diseases, blessings – but there is a guardrail the entire way. Christ is driving, and He has established every turn of the wheel and every wayward opossum. He has promised He will not leave us alone, but has given us the divine Helper who will constantly help us and point us forward, to the end of the road, where Christ reigns victorious, and our laborious road will transform into streets of gold.