Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When we don't know

We learned yesterday that four schools have rejected Big Guy, and four more have yet to respond. Among the rejecters was the one I'd been told would be perfect for him. I have no idea what happens if no one accepts him; send his packet to a second tier of schools, I guess. Think he'll get in somewhere by September?

 *        *        *        *        *
We received a letter from Snuggler on Monday proclaiming. "Camp is SO much fun!!!!" It was dated July 4, the day after she arrived, so we are hoping camp is still SO much fun! 

Being on the non-receiving end of two weeks without modern methods of communication is kind of odd. I was thinking the other day about the immigrants of days of yore, who left home and whose families didn't know for a year or more if they arrived, died, prospered, or vanished. Kind of puts today's teary farewells in a different perspective. Technology has micro-calibrated our definition of what it means to know what's going on, heightening our sensitivity to not-knowing -- and perhaps heightening our anxiety in the process.

There is something comforting in accepting the fact that I won't know about Snugglers life for two weeks. It helps me remember that I am not responsible for making her happy; she is going to have to handle that herself for the time being. I'm not actually in control; being without a means of pretending that I am is, in its own way, a relief.
*        *        *        *        *

Andrew and I have been batting around book ideas, and have one about which we're excited. It is nice to work together, especially after more than a decade (for him) of 60-80 hour workweeks and (for me) near-single parenting. We have had dozens of terrific conversations about things other than kids and finances and deadlines. It's like... being married.

In the past month Andrew has gone to a pile of classes at the outplacement firm: resume building, Linked-In networking, interviewing skills, etc. He came home from one class where the instructor advised everyone to use the 100-zero rule: spend 100% of your energy on things you can do something about, and 0% on things you can't control.

*        *        *        *        *

I have no idea what the future holds for us, job-wise. We're okay through October, at which point the witches and goblins remove our safety net and the cold, hard world cackles at us. We have figured out a suitably sub-optimal fallback plan, a way to almost-survive in the event that no substantive solution becomes apparent by then.

Perhaps Andrew will get full-time work, perhaps I will, perhaps we'll write books and do freelance work and somehow pay for insurance for seven people. I am not particularly anxious about it, because we're doing what we can do.Well, except at 2am. When I'm awake at 2am I worry. But I'm pretty sure that's all anyone is doing at that hour, unless they're working the night shift.

One of the nice things about getting to middle age is the realization that things eventually work out. Or else they don't. In this country at this time in history, even if things don't happen the way you want, you generally don't die. That's good.

Am I odd to find comfort in the thought that whatever cliff might (or might not) lie ahead probably isn't large enough to be fatal?

*        *        *        *        *

I have a post going up at Seeds of Devotion later today about some of the faith-related aspects of this. Or at least I think it's going up; I'm not in charge of the mechanics. It's odd not knowing exactly when that will happen. But I think we can all live with the uncertainty.



  1. Julia, I think there is a point in our lives where we just have a knowing in our spirits that things do have a way of working themselves out. And at the end of the day, even if circumstances didn't turn out the way we expected, we will still wake up tomorrow and have the opportunity for a fresh outlook/start.
    I'm not sure if that realization comes with age or growth in our faith.
    Thanks for your sharing. You guys are in my prayers!!

  2. Great post. I like the short-takes format. And yes, it's wonderful to really feel married again.

  3. is there any recourse? or, do you know why he was rejected? here's hoping you find the right place for him.

    and yes, i understand that bit about the non-fatal cliff...

  4. Hi, Julia,

    I could relate to this post. For us, we prayed--forever-- for a miracle for our diabetic son. He died.

    We prayed for the marriage of our first son--forever--and divorce
    proceedings have begun. It hurts SO much.

    We prayed for our younger daughter--forever--and she now has
    a heart issue at age 34.

    You prayed--ongoing--and your son is rejected by all of these schools.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, BUT I REALLY do want to feel that
    PRAYER REALLY WORKS. Tell me that it DOES.

    Shirley Alderman

  5. @Shirley,
    I've grappled with that issue for years, especially in the face of Big Guy's troubles. I'm not sure I can do justice to the topic in a blog post, but I will give it a try -- give me a few days.


  6. @ Shirley,
    I think the question of whether or not prayer 'works' depends on what you're expecting it to do. Does it make problems go away? Sometimes. And sometimes, to paraphrase Jesus, the cup isn't taken from us.

    Does prayer help us draw near to God in all circumstances, and communicate with him? Yes. Especially when our prayer follows the format Christ set out for us (which has that 'thy will be done' part right up front).

    One of my favorite passages on prayer comes from Anthony Bloom's book, Beginning to Pray:

    "Let us think of our prayers, yours and mine; think of the warmth, the depth and intensity of your prayer when it concerns someone you love or something which matters to your life. Then your heart is open, all your inner self is recollected in the prayer. Does it mean that God matters to you? No, it does not. It simply means that the subject matter of your prayer matters to you. For when you have made your passionate, deep, intense prayer concerning the person you love or the situation that worries you, and you turn to the next item, which does not matter so much -- if you suddenly grow cold, what has changed? Has God grown cold? Has He gone? No, it means that all the elation, all the intensity in your prayer was not born of God's presence, of your faith in Him; it was born of nothing but your concern for him or her or it, not for God."

    Tough stuff, but good food for thought.

  7. I think your attitude toward the future is admirable. So many families are facing a cliff these days. It helps to hear a calm voice in the midst of uncertainty.