I was pulling away from my son's school the other morning when a strong sense of déjà vu assaulted me.
I say assaulted because it wasn't a pleasant feeling.
It was a feeling of total unrest.
As I drove away, racking my brain for the appropriate recollection to match this feeling, I smelled it. The whiff of wanting floated out of my cerebral cortex and into my Honda Hybrid. A memory as strong as the aroma of freshly brewed Starbucks or Mama's rigatoni and meatballs, but not agreeable in the slightest. A memory of dropping my son at school then venturing down to the richy-rich neighborhoods, driving street by street to choose my new house, sure that once I lived there, all would be well.
As long as I can remember, I've lived my life in a series of "When I's" and "Back When's" and "As Soon As I's."
As in "When I lose 25 pounds and finish P90X, I will finally wear a bathing suit at the beach."
"Back when I was 20, I borrowed Kelly Alcott's black & pink bikini and looked really cute swimming in Lake Michigan."
"As soon as I conquer my negative physical self-image, I'll really look forward to donning a two-piece to get out of this heat."
And though this way of thinking has always been prevalent, I never really registered that I was conducting my life in such a manner until that telling moment behind the wheel.
In retrospect, I guess I actually thought there were times these reflections were helping me by challenging me to live a more successful life. Such as:
"Back when I lived in Alabama instead of this great, big, crowded city, I was considered the best singer, so..."
"When I was studying with my voice teacher, I was invincible and never lost my voice..."
"As soon as I get my Tony for my Broadway performance, I will be satisfied and..."
"Back when we didn't have a mortgage, we had more spending money..."
"When I finally have a bigger house and a guest room, I can..."
"As soon as I move closer to the beach, I'll be more inspired and better able to focus on writing that novel..."
The "When I's" and "Back When's" and "As Soon As I's" of life are perilous.
Do you see the danger?
Can you feel it?
They've kept me from letting go of hurts.
They've prevented me from moving forward.
They've, most treacherously, kept my present out of focus.
Last week, I had the privilege of putting up six additional regular adult-sized bodies at my house for a long weekend. The Young Americans came to do their 3-day workshop at my daughter's high school, and with them came the need for home-staying fifty teachers. Eight of the college students I had toured with in Ireland came back to California for a couple of days before striking back out on the road to Japan. So, of course, with every ounce of delight in my heart, I opened up our home to those of the eight who needed a place to stay. (Five of them plus my daughter's best friend decided to take us up on the offer.)
Those of you who have been to my home are either reading incredulous and wide-eyed right now or laughing hysterically at the thought of WHERE IN THE WORLD I put these six bodies.
My house is small, to be certain.
But we made it work and lovingly so.
I realized, the morning that I was pulling away from the curb of my son's school experiencing my icky déjà vu, that - for the first time EVER that I can recall - there was not one part of me thinking "When I" or"Back When" or "As Soon As I" when considering to take care of these kids.
As in "When I have a bigger home, I can house this many..."
"Back when I had a plan for being rich, this would have worked better..."
"As soon as I win the lottery, maybe the Young Americans will like me better because they will be more comfortable."
No, nothing like that.
In fact, it's the only time EVER that I can remember feeling no stress about what others may be thinking of my home and family.
On the contrary, I only felt pride and intense joy in the life we have built with His grace.
We had a great time while the students were here, all crammed into my family room, eating Colleen's famous and delicious homemade brownies with ice cream (Adam Green: "Mama, can I please have another bowl?"); taking a trip around Los Alamitos Bay in our little Bay Boat duffy rental; laughing and loving and supporting one another in music and life and change.
They loved my children as I loved these awesome students on tour.
Such an amazing trade-off for my kids who let me go for two weeks.
And best of all by far, we lived in His grace.
So as I move forward in this whirling, tilting, adventure of a life, I endeavor to never again live in the "When I's" and "Back When's" and "As Soon As I's."
Unless, perhaps, it's to consider:
"When I finally reach Heaven I'll..."
"Back when I was soooooo dense, I can't believe I couldn't really hear Him..."
"As soon as I see His glorious face, I'll finally know..."
But truly, even those musings can wait.
Photo credit: Downloadable Mercedes-Benz wallpapers at skinz.org