As I age, I become more aware of my privilege. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I think it helps me be more self-aware and happier (because my life is indeed hugely blessed). On the other hand, I have guilt.
Getting ready for the Edel Gathering this past weekend, I was excited. I love to travel, I can always use some extra time to myself, I was rooming with some dear friends, and meeting new people invigorates me. But I also felt a little guilty because I could go - by which I mean I have the financial and childcare means for things like this - and because I didn't think I needed it as much as some other people might. I started blogging in 2004, had my first in-person meeting with an online friend in 2005, met my best friend through the Internet in 2008, went to my first bloggy gathering in 2010, and have since then ramped it up to the point where my husband is starting to be a little bit like, "How many girls' weekends does one really need in a year, hmm?"
(Although he was very supportive of my going to Edel. I guess he must have sensed what I really needed.)
I don't feel isolated in my daily life. I - like many of us, I think - have an ongoing quest to find more simpatico local friends, but my online community has been a source of love and support for me for years, including helping me get through four hospitalizations of children since 2009. I have people whom I can and do call and/or text daily. I'm lucky; I have a huge amount of privilege in this area. So going into this past weekend, I was thinking that maybe I was being greedy, that I should have left the opportunities for the people who need them more than I do.
And yet. And yet. When Hallie stood up and passed on the words God had given her for us: "It is good that you are here," my heart squeezed. I blinked hard and was glad I'd worn waterproof mascara.
This is what I heard: it is good that you are here.
I am not underwater the way I was a few years ago, but I am still susceptible to the same lies that have always been easiest for me to believe. Everyone around you is managing; what's wrong with you? Look at how poorly you are coping. This is a life full of failure.
I have learned to argue with those voices, and there are people in my life who are always ready to help me shout them down, but they are not silent. Never quite completely silent. I guess that's the way the battle of life on earth goes.
It was good that I was there this weekend, and the biggest reason was not what I expected. Yes, I loved seeing/meeting old friends and making new ones. I enjoyed being able to eat meals in peace, and go to the bathroom unaccompanied, and spend a leiurely hour on hair and makeup. I laughed and danced and sang karaoke and drank one too many margaritas that the bartender had promised were weak. (Perhaps he and I have different definitions of that word?)
But most importantly, I got spiritual nurturing that I didn't even know I needed. That is why it was good that I was there: I'd been bopping along, managing pretty well, feeling grateful that I sleep through the night now and no one has thrown up on me in months and isn't life EASY? And GRAND? And making myself oblivious to the fact that underneath, I still waver.
I need to be told that what I do matters, that I am not alone, that God loves me, that I am called to grow in love and become the best version of my unique self. I know this intellectually - I've certainly spent enough time writing it down over the years - but that doesn't negate my need to hear it, to affirm it, to recommit myself to it.
And since I came home, the goodness of the weekend has been rippling through my life, morphing itself to fit into every corner.
It is good that you are here: I am the right wife for this husband, the right mother for these children, the right person to catechize fifth graders (a daunting job I've recently signed on for) and to support a person I love through a crisis and to live in this little house with this rowdy family. I belong here, this is my life, I'm right for it.
It is good that you are here: there are a hundred little joys in this life, and I am blessed to be the one who holds these little people and comforts them through their trials and witnesses their joys, blessed in my marriage and my friends and my family and in so many ways. This is a good life.
It is good that you are here: as tedious and tiny as it feels sometimes, this life is my vocation, exactly as it is. And things that make me feel sometimes like an outsider: not being a homeschooler, not having a baby or being pregnant; or (in alternate circumstances) having four (so many!) children and being one of those crazy religious people... well, those are the things that make me me and my life mine. I get to love those things, love being here, without apology or self-doubt.
Today I don't get to dress up or dance or drink margaritas (well, maybe that last one after the kids are in bed) but I get to love. I get to be exactly where I should be (It is good that you are here) doing exactly what I am supposed to do, and that is how I become each day a little happier and (hopefully) a little holier.
I recognize my privilege: it was a privilege that I could even consider attending the Edel Gathering, and certainly a privilege that I got to enjoy it as much as I did. But in the end, it turns out it's a privilege that I deserve, because everyone does. I pray everyone gets her Edel - whatever that looks like in her life - because we all deserve to know: it's good that we're here. It's good. We're good.
(And if you don't know that yet, or believe it, you're on my heart and prayers in a special way today.)