My husband placed his keys on the desk as he arrived home after school. He picked up
our eleven month old son for a welcome home kiss. After catching our leaping four-year-old mid-jump, Eric turned to me to ask a question that would change my life.
“That boarding school asked me to come for an interview next week before school ends.
They want you and the kids to come, too. What do you think? Could you go next Friday?”
I stopped chopping peppers and my eyes drifted down to my 38-weeks pregnant belly.
Would my OB even let me drive that far from home at this point?
“I guess I can call my parents to see if they could watch the kids,” I said. “I’ll have to
reschedule my appointment with my therapist, too.”
“Thanks, babe. I really don’t think I’m interested but I figured it’s a good opportunity to
see what the interview is like.”
The tension in my jaw relaxed. I picked up the knife again and tried my best to focus on
the recipe instead of adding to my mental list of reasons why Indianapolis was a better home forus than a small town twenty minutes away from the nearest Walmart.
A week later, the GPS directed us to turn left past two cornfields and an abandoned
farmhouse. Great, I thought, we’re driving straight into an episode of Criminal Minds.
After a pleasant dinner with some members of the faculty, we were treated to a tour of acampus that looked like it had been built as a movie set. As Eric gazed longingly at the state-of-the-art equipment in the STEM lab, my pulse quickened. I could already picture him planning math lessons for the elite students who normally filled the vacant seats.
Was he really think about moving our family with a newborn in tow? Would I be stuck in
a small town with three small kids with no job, no friends, and nothing to do? Had he even noticed the confederate flag we passed on our way into town, either? It was very obvious that I would be one of the few people of color here in town and probably in the whole county. Would my children be safe here if anyone realized their grandfather was black? Eric knew I wanted to stay in our house, in our city, where we had friends and lives. I would have no support here.
The simmering self-doubt and emptiness that had resided in my soul for months
threatened to boil over into tears.
My mood darkened as we prepared for bed that evening. It was unchanged when I
awoke the next morning and Eric left for a full day of interviews and introductions without me.
After exploring every possible activity on campus and in town, I found myself sitting on a park bench overlooking the lake, root beer float in hand, as a cool breeze cut through the humidity of the late May afternoon.
The wind lifted the hairs on the nape of my neck, like the breath of God inviting me into
intimacy and rest.
In the silence, I fell into a familiar prayer.
I feel so lost, Lord, and I’m so unhappy. This is not what I wanted my life to be and I’m
desperate. My life feels so meaningless. Please help me. I want to feel whole again. I am aching for you to hear me, to see me, to show me that you are there.
That familiar prayer soon gave way to the deeper prayer I had been longing to express.
Why are we here in this place, Jesus? I don’t understand what you want from us. I don’t
want to move here. I don’t want to leave my entire life behind and live in the middle of nowhere.
I do not want this!
Suddenly, the bright excitement of Eric’s eyes as he walked through the campus flashed into my mind. Then I heard the lift in his voice as he described the mission of the school before bed. Next came a vision of our boys swinging in the exact same park where I sat.
Yes, there could be happiness here.
If this is what you want, God, then I will do it. I am not willing, but I choose your will. If you want this, I will trust you to make a way.
Sleeve met dripping nose as I made my way back to the car to meet my husband.
Eight weeks later, I was back on the same bench with my newborn daughter, laughing
as I watched my boys running through the park to escape their father’s grasp. Doubt and worry still sat alongside me, but I trusted that they would not remain with me forever.
There were boxes to unpack, colleagues to meet, and groceries to buy. But those things could wait for this small moment of peace, resplendent with grace and inviting me into joy. The baby’s arm wriggled its way from under the blanket as the wind rustled through the wisps of her strawberry curls.
There it was again… Breath.
Shannon Schmidt is a self-professed theology nerd who works full-time as a pastoral associate at a parish outside of Indianapolis. She is the proud mother of four very energetic children and grateful wife to her long-suffering husband, Eric. In her free time she co-hosts the podcast “Plaid Skirts and Basic Black,” which looks at culture, pop culture, and current events through a black Catholic lens. Follow Shannon on Instagram at @teamquarterblack.