A Veil of Snot and Tears

(Chatter letter from the editor, March 2010)

You do not have a destiny.

Excuse me, what? The phrase “you do not have a destiny” popped into my head at about midnight as my husband Gordon and I were driving home from a friend’s house. Well, it really whacked me in the face, if you want to know the truth. The thought was so novel, so against everything I had always believed, yet so compelling that I sat there with it cautiously as if with a dangerous, spellbinding stranger. Have you ever entertained a belief—even for a quivering millisecond—that you had never considered believing before?

You do not have a destiny. Well, this is against Scripture, after all. Jeremiah says God knows the plans he has for us. Ephesians says God has prepared good works in advance for us to do. Romans says God works everything for the ultimate good of those who love him. Those verses sound very pro-destiny, don’t you think? Unless you’ve been defining “destiny” like I have.

In the car that night, I was discussing my potential with Gordon of becoming a famous writer. How might that happen, what steps would I need to take to get there, and IS BECOMING A FAMOUS WRITER MY DESTINY? That’s about when the phrase “you do not have a destiny” made its unsavory appearance. That’s also when a little smidgen of an explanation, of a footnote, of an asterix began to take shape.

You do not have a destiny, but God has a destiny for you. Your destiny is not yours. Your destiny is God’s.

Funny thing is, I used to understand this better.

Back when I was in the throws of early mommyhood — mired in bodily excretions (both mine and my son’s) — I was sinking so far within myself and looking for some sort of rope, however rough and blistering, to pull me back up into the world. I began getting the sense — a sense that grew stronger by the day — that the best thing to do was to be faithful with whatever God chose to put in front of me on any given Everyday. My days and hours soon became a string of “mini assignments,” if you will — little ways to live, little ways to participate in life, if only from underneath a veil of snot and tears. Sometimes it came down to putting on a little mascara to the glory of God. I kid you not.

I began asking for other assignments. Can I write for an hour a day? Can I begin a blog? As the months fluttered by like onion paper, I was getting more assignments. They were still daily, still humble, still only a meager attempt to be faithful to what God had put in front of me on any given day.

But somewhere in there, God’s assignments had become my accomplishments. And all of a sudden, two years later in the car one night, I was worried about MY DESTINY. My destiny, I once dreamed, was to bathe myself by 3 p.m. Now I hoped my destiny meant book deals and press appearances.

My how the humble have fallen.

The truth is, I do not own my destiny. God does. And he gets to choose how to get me there.

There’s a wonderful blogger named Ann Voskamp (www.aholyexperience.com). She’s a farmer’s wife who homeschools her six kids and writes from a place of smudged reverence. I don’t think she’s worried about any of this:

In the experiences of a simple/crazy life,
farming Canadian dirt, raising
half a dozen exuberant kids,
stringing sheets out on the line….

I’m praying to slow and see
the sacred in the chaos,
the Cross in the clothespin,
the flame in the bush.

Just a bit of
listening, laundry, liturgy…

Raise a glass with me to the Everyday, won’t you?


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