Jealous of the Settled
I have never considered myself a very jealous person. Envy hasn't been something I have particularly struggled with, or at least not a lot. But, lately, well, that's been a bit harder. I am a bit addicted to Instagram and love the wonderful community that it has become for me. But, there is a part of me that finds myself wrestling with envy after looking through my IG feed lately. Friends, those I know personally and have never met, are doing things like having babies, adopting (something that has always been close to my heart), buying houses, furthering their carriers, taking beautiful vacations.
I am at a life stage where my friends are starting to be fairly well settled. They are doing the things they always dreamed about doing and pursuing the things they always dreamed about pursuing. They are enjoying life and enjoying their families.
They aren't asking the questions that haunted us in our twenties. They aren't as overwhelmed by the struggles of adapting to parenthood and are starting to find their own strides with their children. They are established in careers or even if they are making career changes they are pursuing their passions and expanding there influence and talents. They are settled in homes and settled with a community of close friends around them.
Some little bits of that are true for me, but for the most part that isn't where I find myself.
When we first came back from Prague and first moved up to Seattle I could see that coming for us. I wrote this post about how I felt like we were settling into ourselves. We started talking about buying a house sometime soon. Bryan had really found his calling and was loving his work. I was gaining confidence in my writing and was starting to think about how to pursue that as a career somehow. Our finances were stabilizing. And we even started to talk about adopting.
And then Sage's diagnosis came and soon after that Bryan's diagnosis with cancer. And slowly over the course of the last year and the progression of Bryan's cancer all those things have been washed away.
Not only have we not bought a house, but I truly can't imagine how we could ever buy a house (or at least not in the foreseeable future). Bryan's career has continued to progress and after a little season of imbalance our income has again stabilized, but the unknowns in our life threaten whether that will continue. And there there are always the medical bills from both him and Sage. So that even though he is now making a salary it seems to never stretch as far as it should. Saving for vacations seems an impossibility.
And although I have continued to write, my writing has been sporadic and not something I can fully focus on in this season.
As for adoption, well, it seems completely out of the question now. There is too much uncertainty as to our future to consider bringing another child into our family. And I can't see how that uncertainty could really change. Even if things go well, Bryan will always be at high risk for recurrence. I've seen too many statistics for me to feel comfortable taking on the additional risk of potentially raising three kids on my own.
All those things that I would have wanted to be doing and thinking about and working towards seem completely out of reach now. And as I watch friends doing and pursuing those things I can't help but feel a tinge depressed. As I watch them going about their merry, secure, settled lives I can't help but feel a hint of envy.
I have to remind myself that everyone has their own path, everyone has their own struggles. I have to remind myself that their lives might not be as easy and secure as it looks from instagram or Facebook. I have to remind myself that God has called me to a life that looks different than what I would have planned, but that doesn't mean it is not also full of joy and merriment.
Sometimes I succeed in reminding myself of these things. Other times I find the anger rising. How come they get to have that life and I don't? Why can't I get a book deal like so-and-so? I wish we could go on vacation. I wish I had a little house and could have a little garden. I wish I had extra money to spend on decorating a home just how I'd like.
The other day I dreamed that I was passionately trying to convince someone else to adopt a child, because I couldn't adopt. I woke up feeling sad. Sad that my son won't have a sibling that can keep up with him. Sad for the children who don't have homes. But, even more convinced that we can't adopt in our current circumstances.
I always thought my life would look different at 31. I never thought that we would be essentially homeless living with my parents, raising a daughter with special needs and fighting an aggressive and deadly cancer. This was not the life I thought I'd have.
Sometimes I can embrace this unique life I'm living. Somedays I can trust that the unsettled, uncertainty of this life is the gift of a loving God to me.
But, then other days... I can't.
I instead get trapped in wishing things were different. Wishing my life looked more like the lives of my friends on Instagram. Wishing it looked a bit more stable and settled.
I never wanted a life that was completely normal, or completely stable and run-of-the-mill. I always longed for adventure. But, this adventure I'm living is nothing like the one I had envisioned.
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman