For the Times You Think You’re on the Outside Looking In

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My eyes open to wide-awake sunlight rushing through my window blinds – my first clue that something wasn’t right. I grab my phone and see my alarm has been going off for sometime, but I had the volume control turned down too low for me to hear.

I swing my legs out of bed and take a quick look outside: white, white, white. I grab my phone again and check my email. And right there, between sale advertisements for Elsmore Swim Shop and Barnes & Noble, is the blessed email that reads like a belated Christmas gift: District 49 schools – 2 hour delay.

Hot diggity.

Snow delays are a double blessing: you can avoid the early morning, rush-around crazy but the kids still have to skeedaddle for most the school day.

David is on terminal leave (which just means he is enjoying some extended time off before he begins full time in his new job) and right now he is making buckwheat pancakes for his crew. James and Ethan relish extended laziness in bed and Faith curves into me on the sofa.

My arms circle her and I think about how much I love being right here on the inside looking out.

I’ve struggled much with the opposite lately, thinking I’m on the outside looking in. I stand in the snow outside and cup my hands on the cold glass – or on the computer screen or phone picture – and see a scene I’d love to curve into myself. Women talking by the fire, eyes bright with dreams come true, or at least talking about plans in the making. Sometimes I can turn that the right way and say Thank you, God, for giving them this gift. Sometimes I turn it the wrong way and say Why, God, can’t You give me that gift? 

That choice is a one way trip to the corner of Lonely and Feels Sorry for Herself.

Seasons change and you can outgrow your middle school brain right alongside mile-high bangs and baggy sweatshirts. But while the clothes may not ever work in fashion or fit, the thoughts sometimes revisit.

Or maybe you don’t have to look anywhere because the Enemy does such a good job convincing you you’re forgotten, that you make up your own fireside scenes in your imaginative little head. You are off and running with them, running to the first friend or sister you can find. With downcast eyes, you ask her to tell you your fears aren’t founded. My friends’ words are kind and sympathetic with a dose of reality. Even as they wave me right on in to a fireside seat and I’m thankful they are safe people, I still want a do-over where insecurity doesn’t get the last word.

But you know, every time I’ve stayed put and talked to God about it – telling Him all my whiney, feel-sorry-for-myself concerns and fears – I’ve never felt the pang of wishing for do-overs. I’ve only heard Him tell me trust me, daughter, trust our history together and believe what I say about My plans for you

After we eat butter-slathered pancakes with maple syrup, Faith turns up the soundtrack to Frozen. Voices sing with over-the-top theatrical fanfare and I die laughing. When I stop to take in the scene around me, I can’t help but say out loud,

Thank you, God, for all that’s right here where I’m on the inside looking out.

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  1. says

    When I read the part about turning up the CD of FROZEN I just smiled….oh, if I had a $1 for every time we have done that in our kitchen lately….we just love the CD and the movie!

  2. says

    “trust me, daughter, trust our history together and believe what I say about My plans for you.” Sigh of relief – thank you for this, dear friend. Your words are God-timed. Love you <3

  3. Beth Williams says

    Kristen,

    I can just imagine your family dancing to the music. I do the same thing when I get down and depressed. Music seems to help my soul.

    It is so easy to get caught up in envy and wanting what others have–friendships, fireside chats, loving husbands, etc. We need to listen to God more and acknowledge that He won’t allow do-overs, but will allow detours to plans because “He knows the plans He has for us”!
    We just need to trust God and be more content with the way life is going! :)

  4. says

    Oh so true! I have found gratitude to be the single best remedy for all my ails, particularly the ones where I feel left out in the cold. The trick, for me, is to remember to use that gratitude tool. Thanks for your candor. Praying you enjoy your cold day; may it be warm on the inside.