On Monday night, Noland was leaving for a few hours for worship rehearsal at church, and I had a list of things I needed to accomplish while he was gone. There were to-do lists to make for work the next day. There were blog posts to schedule. There were wedding showers to prepare for, bridesmaid shoes to be purchased and bachelorette parties to plan. Lately it hadn’t seemed like I had enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I was supposed to.
In swept my coping mechanism: independence. “I’ve got this under control.” (Always my famous last words.)
I started feeling overwhelmed at the fact that I had so much to do, and frustrated that at 8 p.m. on a Monday that had started at 7 a.m., I was pretty much still working. I started thinking, “At what point does life reach this place of ‘I have to do all of this on my own'” — and to-do lists and unfinished tasks are constantly hanging over my head, and I’m not sure when I got here, but I sat there on my couch and drifted into a daydream of my childhood.
Seventh grade. We lived in Tennessee at the time, on a big lot that backed up to a forest where the Little Harpeth River ran through. I was at that age when your friends were just whoever lived in your neighborhood, and I happened to be the only girl. So me, Jake, Jack, Andrew and Neil went exploring. We found a rope swing that might as well have been buried treasure, and we made it our summer project to build a treehouse there.
It. Was. Magical.
By the end of the summer our treehouse had three stories, and hammocks hung from every level, and we’d swing into the river to cool off, play games and then get back to work. When we got hungry, we’d go sit on my back porch (my mom let no one near the house covered in all that mud), and eat Goldfish and drink Capri Suns.
Recalling all these things, I could swear that I could still smell the honeysuckle. I could feel that cold river on my skin, and the callouses on my hands from hammers and scrap wood. I could hear Andrew cracking jokes, Jack and Jake arguing about something ridiculous and Neil complaining about getting too dirty.
I was envious of care-free, 13 year old me. And I started thinking about all the things I loved about building that treehouse that summer. I loved dreaming something into existence from scratch. I loved that it was ours, and that really as long as our parents would let us, we could be out there ruling what seemed like the whole world. I loved that it was hands-on hard work, but the most exciting adventure I’d ever been on. I was accomplishing something great and having the time of my life.
At this thought, I laughed, because it was almost as if God had drawn me into this day dream of memories to remind me that my life isn’t really all that different from those days right now. I have a job that I love, and that I really am getting to pioneer and dream from the ground up, and have a lot of creative reign over. I work hard and I get to play hard. And, wouldn’t you know it, I work with a bunch of boys. (I suppose we should call them men, though.)
The part I seem to have forgotten, however, is that I’m allowed to (encouraged to, rather) come home and just keep being a kid after I’ve been hard at work. God still welcomes me home to the back porch, barefoot, dirty and all, and refreshes and cares for me. I’m not supposed to stay out there and stress about what still needs to be done. I’m just supposed to come running home to be with Him.
So right there in my living room on Monday night, I put down my to-do list, and I built a fort. A fortress, rather. A sacred space to just be a kid in His Presence. It’s been there all week, and we have laughed, cried, and shared secrets beneath that roof of blankets.
How quickly I become a calloused, independent adult, blinded by my to-do lists when all He wants is to be with me. How easily I stress over a job that mirrors one of my favorite childhood memories. He has given great gifts, and I am on an extraordinary adventure. I just fail to see it when I forget to look at my life through the eyes of a child.
So I’m returning to my child-like mind. Lost in the adventure of building something incredible. Confident that I need not worry, for He is building something in the unseen so much greater than what I’m doing.