Have you ever found yourself in a season of life where you feel like you are standing on the platform deck of a high speed train trying to get on but you just can’t seem to figure out how to stop the train long enough to catch a ride? Or perhaps you wake up one morning, take a long look in the mirror and realize that the person staring back at you is not someone you really know at all? How do we lose ourselves in the ocean of life, how can we force the train to stop so that we actually get on and soak in the beauty of the ride?
We find ourselves at this point in life sometimes for a specific reason and at other times accidentally and not of our choosing. Perhaps we made choices which landed us on the platform unable to get on maybe a crisis forced us to get off the train and it sped up and it was just too difficult to get back on. But what if these two word pictures collide in the reality of life. That is where I have found myself recently. A few months ago the train of my life was traveling much faster than I could keep up and I woke one very cold and windy morning at my usual 5:00 am, after a shower and a strong cup of coffee I glanced in the mirror and realized I didn’t quite recognize the woman in the mirror. Where did “I” go? Had the circumstances of life shattered the person who was so familiar to me? Somehow I felt my beloved self was still within me; she just had become buried in the rubble of all the popping of being stretched in too many directions.
I was reminded of this reality a week ago as I walked through the ashes of what was once the home of a good friend of Mike’s. Fires raged once again through our community a few weeks ago but unlike last year this fire was far more destructive and much closer to our home. Over 500 homes were lost and as we drove through what was once a lush and beautiful forest to arrive at Mike’s friends’ home last week we were in utter shock at the loss. Standing in the rubble of everything that this couple owned which was now reduced to a literal pile of ashes, I listened and watched as they pointed out the remains of a dishwasher, or a few items of pottery that has survived. They recovered gears of a mountain bike and a few other insignificant items however, everything they owned was gone including a “beloved Starbucks mug”. Any coffee drinker knows that a good mug is like a loyal hound dog….well-seasoned to welcome you every morning. It fits perfectly in your hand and somehow an extension of it's owner and so I understood to well the longing that Sid had to sift through the ashes with the hopes of locating his mug. It hasn’t been found but as I have pondered this lost mug I thought about myself. Sometimes we have fires in our lives. Fires of many different origins and many different degrees but they all char us in some way. For me, the fire has been kind of like a burning ember that would flare when the winds of life blew hard and in the midst and “I” much like Mikes friends’ beloved Starbucks mug got lost in the charred debris left behind. When the fires raged I didn't have the time nor the mental energy to attempt to put out the fires or even discover the cause, I am ashamed to say that I simply just tried to evacuate until they somehow were reduced to smolders again.
I have great hopes of finding the lost remnants of “Nichole” as I return to the loves of my life….my husband, my children and my home. I have said goodbye to the job that took me away from those loves in order to reinvest in that which I know is my “true purpose”. In Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, he states “Knowing your purpose simplifies your life. It defines what you do and what you don’t do. It is impossible to do everything people want you to do. You have just enough time to do God’s will. If you can’t get it all done, it means you’re trying to do more than God intended for you to do. Purpose driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule.” Oh, how I am looking forward to a simpler lifestyle with the time and brain capacity to exploring every facet my true purpose while building beautiful memories that my children will treasure long after I am gone. And along the way, I hope to recover the beloved mug of me and recognize that reflection of the woman in the mirror.