Saturday, May 7, 2016

You can't really have it all... and that's okay!

I recently have been reading Philippa Gregory's The White Queen in my spare time and I caught the first episode on Starz from the BBC. Even though I know it's not that historically accurate, I'm enjoying it a lot. It's about Elizabeth Woodville, the widow who married King Edward IV of the Lancastrian line in secret during England's War of the Roses. Ms. Gregory has done an amazing job with the love story, the chemistry, the family, and the world-building. One reason I mention the world-building is at one point in the beginning, the Widow Elizabeth Grey (she was called that after her first marriage to a Knight named John Grey of Groby who died in battle against Edward IV's claim for the throne against Henry of York) was living with her mother, a French Aristocrat named Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Jacquetta had married a York supporter in England, but she did something that seemed like witchcraft for her daughter after meeting the York King of England in passing, Elizabeth asking for her lands back for her son's sake. Jacquetta had three little metal objects tied to threads around a tree by the river, the contents in the water, and brought her daughter Elizabeth over, telling her to pick a line. Elizabeth chose one, and her mother cut the others. Elizabeth asked her mother "what was on the ends of those threads?" her mother tells her: "choices you will never make, children you will never have." etc.

Jacquetta and Elizabeth in the BBC's The White Queen

The historical story of Elizabeth Woodville is that she married King Edward IV in secret and it was a scandal when Edward announced his marriage to her to his royal court. So, I've been drawn in, even if there's no historical proof of Jacquetta's magical game of MASH for her daughter. You'll have to read the book or watch the show to find out what was on the end of that thread that Elizabeth pulled out of the river.

And then, yesterday, a friend from high school messaged me on Facebook, saying, "You're always going to such interesting things!" He went on to say how boring his life was, making it sound like he was a little jealous of my life (not that I'm bragging here). Me? Interesting?
the Japanese Garden at the Hillwood House Museum in Washington, DC
I was surprised. For years, I always thought everyone else had a better, more fun social life than me and that was because I was not a likeable, loveable person that people wanted to be around. If I were a better person, people would take me on adventures and to night clubs and concerts and events, I berated myself. These days, I am not making much money, I'm struggling to pay my mortgage and bills (ha, what's new!), and I don't just work 40 hours a week to support myself, it's usually like 60-70. It wasn't until I stopped focusing so much on what other people wanted for me and expected of me, and started doing things I loved, it opened doors for me to do these "interesting" things on Facebook, like going to shows and cabarets and taking dance classes in my thirties. Most of my friends in their thirties have kids and they have to parent them first. And Jacquetta's words (from the show) rang in my ears and struck a chord with me. And I realized that the grass is always greener on the other side.
from the gardens at Hillwood House in Washington, DC

Yeah, I may not have a husband and a family, but that affords me to buy stupid things and go to things like Captain America: Civil War (which I did last night with my goddaughters at the IMAX theatre, and it was amazing!). I don't have to answer to anybody but myself and I get to put myself first. Sure, I may not make very much and I'm struggling to pay the bills, but I do get to live a very selfish life, and at times, I feel fulfilled. And I know that my friends who have children are being fulfilled by raising them, even if they can't go out to a burlesque show on a whim or drop into a dance class after work. And I realized, I don't have it all, but are we really supposed to?

Team Cap! Oh boy, it was an emotional and political roller coaster of a movie!
It got me thinking: society pushes us to settle down and get married/have kids by a certain age, to buy a house, to have a full-time career that's stable, be thin and in control of our bodies, healthy, and have a huge savings account/nest egg and 401K. But I struggle with those things. I've been told I'm getting too old to have children, although I just turned 36. It's been a fear of mine that I'm not going to meet my husband until it's too late to have children, but then I realized, it's God's timing, not mine. My reproductive health and my choice of when to have children is between me, my child's father, and my doctor, I don't have to get permission from anybody else who has no bearing on my life. And some of my cousins have had healthy children in their 40s. But, we get so ashamed and hide these aspects of our lives if we haven't achieved them. Yet, so few people do in this generation. Why are we so ashamed of not having the things that God hasn't brought into our lives yet? Maybe there are lessons to be learned that God's trying to teach us, and it will take a lot of humility to get it. And how much hubris is it to claim that we know better than God? No, we're not supposed to "have it all." It's rare if you do, and if you do have everything you ever wanted, I'm excited for you and cheering you on. But if God is holding back on bringing your spouse into your life and giving you a family, maybe there's a lesson He's trying to teach you. And I started thinking about "destination happiness": when we think, "I'll be happy the day I lose 10, 15, 50, 100 pounds" or "I'll be happy when I've got the perfect job" or "I'll be happy when I've met the man of my dreams." Let me explain something incredibly important to you: we aren't promised tomorrow. I know it's not easy, but do your best to find happiness TODAY. I'm not claiming happiness is easy, but it's completely worth the fight. You don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, and it very well could be something worse. I'd rather die fighting to be happy over living to please other people while being absolutely miserable. So fight to find happiness right now and don't wait on it, and don't get angry with yourself because you haven't achieved a lot of things that maybe you weren't ready for or didn't care too much about in the first place.

I know this is corny, but: if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.

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