I could never


I’m beginning to look more like me. // Coming into focus


It was late at night, and I was sitting in a brand-new friend’s kitchen in her one-bedroom apartment just down the hall from mine. We were in college, some of the only married students in the building, both writers, and we hit it off right away. She’s always been one of those friends. It’s easy to go deep, fast.

“No one close to me has ever died,” I say in a near-whisper, afraid God might hear and get some ideas. “I’m terrified of it happening. I could never handle something like that.”

“I know,” she said.

That winter, my dad died suddenly. He was 50 years old.

I don’t think God heard me and decided to test my theory. I start with that story to remind myself that whenever I think “I could never,” it may be true — but if God is near, I have all the strength I need.

I needed it then, and I have needed it since, and I need it now.

In her sympathy card to me, my friend recalled our conversation in her kitchen that night.

“We both said we couldn’t handle something like this,” she wrote. “But then it happens, and then we do.”

* * *

It happens, and then we do.

I could never have trouble attaching to my own child.

I could never be an at-home mom.

I could never go back to Uganda and adopt again.

And the latest: I could never homeschool.

For many reasons, we pulled our 2nd grader out of our neighborhood public school a few weeks ago. In short: It wasn’t working, and he was struggling. We tried to avoid it — met with the teacher, talked to friends for advice, said, “Well whatever happens, we could never homeschool.” I was at capacity already with work, two toddlers at home, a household to manage. I mean, just the laundry alone.

I thought I could never.

But then it happened, and then I did.

* * *

I’m learning to make space in my nevers.

No matter how I see myself and my limitations, God sees who he created me to be. All my life, I’ll be discovering who that is.

And sometimes, the picture comes more into focus when I say, “I could never,” and God says, “With me, all things.”

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2 comments on “I could never

  1. Claire DeBerg says:

    Oh Kim! Yes! Yes to pulling him from school when it isn’t working. That is powerful parenting at its best. Good job. Good mom. I have so much I could share with you about doing that very thing with Gloria! And tons of unsolicited advice, too! The first of which is: let him deschool for a bit…maybe start a homeschool focus in the New Year. He might need a vacation from all things school. Gloria definitely did and it meant she was ready for structure later. ANYway. I love you and let’s talk yesterday! xo

  2. Alison McLennan says:

    Beautiful, Kim. This is a lesson for all of us. And it’s poignant to me because I said “I could never send my kids to school,” but this year I did. Letting go of homeschooling isn’t the hardest “I could never” I’ve had to walk past, just the latest. Bless your courage and insight.