Walking out of Marshall's a few weeks ago, my middlest daughter, Emma, remarked that she is so excited for Fall. In Houston, Fall is December 9th-15th, and we still wear our flip flops but put on a long-sleeve shirt. Em said she's ready for fall because she loves the colors, the textures, the scents, the food, and most especially, the clothes. I don't disagree. Jeans look waaaay better on me than shorts.
That conversation got me thinking about seasons. Not the weather kind of seasons, but the life kind. As you may remember, we took our first kid to college. It's definitely a new season around here. In addition, I am making some other life transitions, too. For the last five years I have been a cook. I ran a small catering side-hustle out of my home. The business started unintentionally, but I quickly realized that it was a way I could earn the extra income our family needed while doing the thing my heart longed most to do --- stay home with my youngest. It was a great benefit to us, and I was doing something I liked. I wasn't terrible at it, either.
Over time, however, I became increasingly aware that cooking wasn't a situation I could sustain, nor did I have the desire to try. It was work God provided for a season, but it wasn't work that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew it wasn't what I was made to do (if that's actually a thing). I looked at my husband and other friends who are doing work they love and are passionate about, and I couldn't point to that same kind of passion in my own work. The longer I cooked the more I kept wondering if I was stuck doing something that didn't match my interests or abilities. Not only that, if I have the capacity at all to hear God speak to me, I thought that He had called me to (in part) write. Being able to cook from my home was the means by which God allowed me to be home with my son while he was small, and it was an incredible gift. It occasionally made the difference between financially sinking or swimming. When my youngest went to kindergarten, though, I stood in my kitchen day after day wondering why I was there. My body was cooking, but my heart was always daydreaming about writing, or podcasting, or curating content for Bible studies. My hands were chopping and sauteing but my mind was consumed with typing and talking. As an extrovert, spending all those hours alone started to drain my energy and exuberance and felt like a slow death. The more dissatisfied I felt, the more I struggled with guilt over being dissatisfied. In the space between contentment and entitled ingratitude, I wondered if there was room for wanting different work. At my lowest, I despised prepping, cooking, and delivering meals to people. I was offended that God would equip me with skills that I longed to use but then would prevent me from using them. It felt like a tease. I had talked myself into believing the worst about God's intentions toward me-- that He would let everyone else find the work they are made to do, that challenges and fuels them, but I would be left to get the scraps.
I can tell you, as someone who cooked for a living, no one wants leftovers.
Then, one day I snapped. After having cut my finger with an errant blade and burned the top of my hand on an oven coil, alone in my kitchen with only dirty dishes and my dissatisfaction to console me, I finally said to God what propriety had thus far prevented me from saying. Through tantrum and tears, I expressed my disappointment in my circumstances. I chided him for telling me one thing, and giving me another. I told him that I thought he was a tease, and that his provision didn't seem to match my need. Like an Israelite spitting out manna on day 14,000, I told God I didn't think his good gifts seemed all that good. I summed it all up by yelling, "These walls are closing in on me and this kitchen feels like my tomb!"
Nothing. No quick response. No swift discipline for my explosion.
Just me in the calm after my own storm.
Enough time passed in stillness for me to wonder if I had finally done the thing that would make Him walk away. And then...
In the quiet way that is characteristic only to Love Himself,
Wendy, a baby growing in the secret place pushes on his confines testing the limits of his world. Though he is hidden in the dark, though he senses there is something more, he cannot find it or push his way to it himself. Day by day, his walls seem to be pressing in on him. But, do you not see? His walls are not closing in. He is growing bigger. Wendy, this kitchen...it's not your tomb. It's your womb. All that time you were making meals, I was making you.
Now who was silent?
The power of that gracious response unfolded to me in a way that made me sink to the floor. Was this really true? It would make sense. After all, isn't that the way with God? He's the only One who put a revolving door on a grave. The flower sprouts after the seed is buried in the ground, and the butterfly emerges from a shroud. Was God birthing something new in me in the place where I had felt so much of me die? And if He was, it is certain that He placed me in a kitchen on purpose, right? What, then, had I learned in my kitchen that I could only learn in my kitchen but that would be necessary for the next phase? I still ponder this question, and the answers to it are too numerous, and some too personally precious, to share, but I'll share this one:
People don't often know how to make what you make. All they know is whether they like it or not, so whatever you do, do it well.
That was over a year ago. I have made and delivered countless meals since then, encouraged that God was doing something in me in the hidden place of my kitchen...a place of preparation.
As this summer was drawing to a close, I still didn't have a clue what should be next for me, so I thought that I should just keep doing what I know until the next thing presented itself. As I was prepping my fall menu, my husband, Daron, did the thing that separates average men from amazing men. He invited me to consider the possibility of doing something really crazy. He invited me to stop doing what I loathe and start doing what I love. Recounting to me all the ways God had provided for us in the past and insisting that He would be faithful in the future, Daron wondered out loud if the next thing wouldn't be obvious to me until I was available for it.
So, here I am. Available. Not cooking. Not earning income. Instead, in this season of waiting, I'm writing and collecting ideas and thinking about new possibilities. It's not easy. In fact, so much of it is uncomfortable. It requires trust that God will fill our gaps. It requires discipline to use my time to read, write, and sit still long enough to think my own thoughts. But, as surely as summer turns to fall, this waiting season will end and a new one will begin.
I should probably get some cute new jeans to be ready for it.