I had a perfect life. I took a course once where we were invited to write down our perfect lives. I did. And now I had it.
This is how perfect. I had an abundance of both time and money. After decades of extreme poverty during my first marriage – no vehicle, cardboard over broken windows, living on one meal a day and eating popcorn to fill up – followed by another few years of barely making it on the “no college degree” income I earned when I first went to work full time as a single mother with eight children to support, we were at last stable. I remembered the constant fear, depression, and insecurity of living on the edge. The nightmares, night after night, of all of us drowning, of me not being able to save the children as the water washed over us, of waking in terror and tears. I constantly told myself I could get us out of that situation, I could focus on how we were making it rather than failing, I could drag us all up out of that place, whatever it took. And I did. I was at last earning enough to support myself and the children still at home with regular meals and a decent place to live.
I had time to sleep. Some days I even felt rested instead of exhausted. I almost didn’t recognize it the first time it happened. What is this feeling? Oh, this is “rested.” How weird. But nice!
I had a working vehicle – a newer one with an active warranty. I could count on getting where I needed to be when I needed to be there instead of praying my way there and back – just let the tires hold on for one more month and whatever that strange sound is, let it not be serious, please, please, please. The junk yard/car wrecker guy and I used to be on a first-name basis. I wondered if he missed me because I sure didn’t miss him.
After two years of eighteen hour days, working full time while finishing my college degree, knowing I was leaving the children alone too often for too long, I had a new job with a company that didn’t expect my heart and soul or even a 90-hour week. I went into the office at seven and headed home by three. I was home when my youngest boys were home. Relaxed time, free time, time used to play miniature golf with the boys, babysitting and snuggling my grandson, running around the lake with my best friend, Robin.
My perfect job, my perfect place to live, my perfect life. I was comfortable. I hadn’t felt comfortable… I don’t remember ever feeling that before. I felt it now.
“Maybe I’m too comfortable,” I looked at Robin, who was jogging slowly beside me so we had plenty of breath for talking.
“Yes. How can you grow if you’re hanging out being comfortable? Maybe I need to take on something a little out of my reach. Just to shake things up.”
“I think comfortable is good.” She flashed me her wide, model-perfect smile.
“It’s just I have the perfect life. I’ve never had the perfect life before – well, except for no romance. Seriously, this life is finally easy. Do you think I’ll end up stagnating as a person because I’m comfortable? Maybe I should pray to be stretched, to grow. What do you think?”
Looking back I still can’t believe I suggested that. Oh, for a time machine. Shut up, woman!
Have I mentioned that during the course where I wrote my perfect life, I was supposed to tear it up and be open to new possibilities?
Apparently God feels the same way.