There’s a strange theme running through my summer. It’s everywhere – in the stems of the sugar snap peas that faded from bright green into a tired tan, in the hanging basket that didn’t appreciate our extended vacationing, in the suddenness of my daughters’ ability to do new things.
Things either keep growing, or begin to die.
Ever since midsummer’s solstice, I’ve been reminded how every year is a build-up to the longest day, the day when the sun stretches itself into eighteen hours of light here in the Midwest. And then after that?
This current shortening of daylight, a slow slide from life to dark.
Meanwhile, the twins are crawling, yelling, reaching, wanting, and there are days I don’t know what to do with all this NEED. The only thing that calms me down is a gentle reminder that if they weren’t growing, something would be wrong.
They have to grow. The converse is unthinkable.
But I can’t help but wonder. What about you? What about me? What about us, here, in the pleasant middle of life? The only growing I’m doing is the kind around my midsection that I try to prevent. But that’s not exactly dying, is it?
Or is it?
Now that the girls are one, I find myself trying to set a new list of goals. We survived year one. Go us. So many twin parents say that the hardest year is the first one, so this makes me feel like we accomplished something. (Exactly what, I’m not sure. I’d say mastering the art of carrying two babies up and down the stairs, but I tripped this morning and ruined my record. No one was hurt, btw.)
But I don’t just want to write down five lines of cutely bulleted things to accomplish next year. I don’t want the next phase of our family’s life together to be some sort of stylized bucket list.
I want us to commit to growing. I want to see my babies learn to speak. I want to watch my three year old start loving an instrument. I want to start a female mentoring program for all ages and all walks of life at my church. I want to memorize more of the Bible so I have a better chance at holding my temper and catching my tongue. I want to firm up those places, physical and emotional, where carrying and caring for babies has left me changed.
On Monday night, my parents were visiting. The girls were in bed. My husband and father were sitting in the hot tub, and my mama and I relaxed by the dormant fireside. I attempted a set of sit-ups; she caught up on email. After a while, she asked if I wanted to hear a blog post.
I sat up, knees tucked, toes spread quiet on the rug. She read author and blogger Ann Voscamp’s most recent post, How to Get Really Living Instead of Merely Existing. (A must read. Please check it out.) And it struck me, there on the rug, that there really is no middle ground. I really do have to strive to grow in that which I love, or face the fact that I immediately start to wither.
This principle is in my faith – to grow in understanding, or lose meaning. In my marriage – to grow in love, or risk falling out of it. In my children – to grow in stature, or worry something’s wrong. In my self – to reach toward my goals, or watch them waste in silence.
Grow or die. There’s no other way to say it. There’s no other way to live.