I am more than mid-way through my fourth year of teaching at Small Christian University in the South. In other 4 year installments in life, like high school for example, this would be the time when one would be getting fitted for a gown, sizing up the graduation platform, making plans for the next chapter.
For me, I feel as though I am just getting started. Year four has been very self-actualizing. I am better at teaching what I have to teach. I am better at anticipating questions about what I teach. I am better at knowing what I don’t know about what I teach.
Let me tell you the cool part about improvement: once you’ve improved to a certain degree, you feel like the thing you’re doing is something new. Because it is. In the past, you were doing that other thing, the mediocre thing, the thing that made you feel all bummy and ill-equipped and now you are doing it better which actually changes how you approach, tackle, reflect on that thing. Life is new even though it is basically the same. Except you sleep better and don’t dread everything and you can eat food without having acid reflux and you don’t feel on the brink of tears all the time.
God is pouring a new formula into me. The bottle is better, stronger. The ingredients are of higher quality because they’ve been distilled longer. The label still says Kendra’s Jam. But to me it tastes new and improved.
In some ways, I am hitting my Finally Stride. Lovey and I can finally go on dates and Little Man does not go mental and thrash about and punish us for days when we leave him with another benign person. I am finally finding a rhythm at work where I can feel good about the work completed and the work yet to complete. We are finally making a dent in our loans. I am finally reading Wild.
Yet, I am also fully aware of how much finality there is in finally. We got Baby Girl’s hair cut the other day. “How are we cutting it, Mom?” asked the hairdresser. She asked how we’re cutting it, like it was a joint effort, her sheers and my master vision. I realized how this might be one of the final times I have any say-so in that cute little bob.
I realize that in general, we are shifting altogether too rapidly from the phase of dimpled elbows and slurred letters to the full-on independent child phase. It comes in waves, noticing suddenly that their play has become more sophisticated, their desires are more long-term rather than immediate, their cares are no longer whether they got the last pack of fruit snacks but more whether or not their friend who is moving to Arizona will remember them. There is finality in their own little child infinities. Their little ends become our endings, too.
But then there are the whole new epochs of their growing up — the fun and fish ownership and new favorite things. It is all so fleeting and yet it is all so rich. How can something, this parenthood business, be all so ephemeral and yet all so meaningful? Why are the days long and the years fast?
God, so infinite and so lofty, still continues to make all things new. He makes it all good and perfect in seven days and we burn it and hoard it and waste it and still–He makes all things new. He is in the contradictions. Alpha-ing and Omega-ing all over our final finallies. He lives and works in this busted vessel and calls it a new thing.