Thursday, June 4, 2015

Passwords and Desires

My password expired the day I gave birth.

For as long as I had worked for my institution, they had never had a policy that required us to change our passwords. I developed a very strong password and had been using it for over six years. Maybe it was time for it to be changed? I had no intentions. In the spring of 2013, my employer decided to implement an annual requirement to change our passwords and began assigning password expiration dates. I was randomly given June 4th as a deadline. If I did not change my password on or before that date, all of my accounts would be locked and I would have to approach IT shamefaced and jump through all their hoops.

The announcement of the password change requirement came during those hazy and unambitious days of the third trimester. While I kept meaning to change it, I never quite got around to it. Nothing I imagined measured up to my awesome current password and I had a hard time focusing on developing a new one. Then I went on maternity leave. Surely I would manage to change it before it expired. I woke up on the morning of June 4th with labor imminently upon me. I could change my password later in the afternoon after the baby was born. I didn't.

The day after I gave birth, I waddled up the stairs and logged into the IT system hoping I wouldn't have to make a phone call and explain why I had not yet changed my password. As I created my new password, I muttered a prayer that I might never have to change my password again. I petitioned that I might quit work before it expired the next year. Thankfully, the system accepted my update and I had no phone call of shame to make, but I had a point on the calendar which would mark the passage of time.


My password expires again tomorrow. This Friday will be the second time it has expired since I prayed to be spared from changing it again. Since Lent I have slowly, (slowly) been reading through the Introduction to the Devout Life. In it is a chapter on Desires. Bearing wrote about this chapter a few years ago.

There are two quotes that stand out to me as being relevant in my life.
Do not desire what is far away or cannot happen for a long time, as many do, who merely tire and distract their hearts to no purpose and lay up a store of trouble. (4.37)
This does not mean that you should relinquish any of your good desires, but merely that you should put them into practice in due order, locking them away in some corner of your heart while you give your attention to those which can be made to bear fruit in the present moment. This applies both to spiritual things and to worldly things. To act otherwise is to live in a constant state of restlessness and anxiety. (4.37)

I feel like my life of the past three or four years has been lived in tension between these two ideas: Desiring what felt close, but was actually far, and locking away a corner of my heart while waiting for that due order to come.

I am very aware of my state of restlessness and anxiety. When opportunities arise that make leaving my job seem imminent, I grasp at that hope, desiring what turns out to be far away and laying up trouble for myself. When everything is in its normal routine, that corner of my heart is locked away because there is nothing to be done at the moment. The struggle is to attempt to bear fruit in the interim instead of throwing up my hands while I wait for my real life to begin.

Was it foolish to utter such a prayer in my hormonal state? Probably. Was I testing God? Maybe. Is there some irrational portion of my heart that still holds these dates in significance? Yes.

As we inch ever closer to the goal, I still cannot clearly see the finish line. I am still grasping at desires that are far away. Even if my time left can be measured in weeks and months instead of month and years, I know they are far away because they cannot be realized today. My duty is to accept my life as it is offered today, do my best, wait, and rest patiently, knowing that the balance is not up to me. I must be pruned in order to bear fruit now instead of one fine day when my desires are made into reality.

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