I dreamed last night about the house I grew up in. I’m not sure why the house was in my subconscious, but possibly it was because last night I finished watching the first two seasons of "Outlander," a series set in Scotland featuring a hero with the last name of Fraser. My Scottish grandparents, who built that house, were Frasers.
I had no idea when I began watching that any of the characters, let alone the lead, would be Frasers. Now some of you who know about Scottish clan tartans might wonder why I hadn’t clued in, given that there were people in Fraser tartan kilts running around on screen. My excuse is this: they were mostly wearing either the Mackenzie tartan or the “hunting Fraser," sometimes called “muted” or “ancient," which, of course, given that the series is set in the late 1700s, makes sense. In these modern times, our family focuses more on the more cheerful “Fraser dress” or “Fraser red” tartan. If they’d been wearing that, I’d have known in an instant that Frasers were involved! The muted design is more subtle, and I just hadn’t noticed its Fraser connections.
But somewhere in one of the early episodes, Jaimie — we didn’t yet know his last name — says almost as an aside, “Je suis pres," and I knew exactly what he meant. “Je suis pres” is the Fraser clan motto, and it means, “I am ready”. It was then that I knew: he is a Fraser.
I love anything Scottish. (Well, except scotch. Also have never tried haggis, so it remains to be seen if I’m a fan of that.) It is because of my Scottish roots that I started watching the show. I figured it would be enjoyable. I didn’t realize that it would be, in some surprisingly deep way, meaningful. (I am compelled to mention at this point that "Outlander" is highly inappropriate at times, so please don’t watch it with kids or take this as an endorsement.)
I know that the story is fiction. I know that the characters aren’t my real Fraser ancestors. (Though Lord Lovat of Fraser and, of course, “Bonnie Prince Charlie” were real men.) But seeing them in an historical setting, interacting in real historical events, spouting off family mottos and wearing family tartan, did something within me. In fact, as I was summarizing the Battle of Culloden for my husband (because I couldn’t help talking about it), I caught myself saying, “The redcoats (revealing my American roots) lost less than 400 men and we lost like 2,000.”
I stopped myself at the word “we” and smiled, a wee bit embarrassed. Colin smiled, too, because he’d caught it as well. I identified completely with the rebel highlanders. I was one of them, way, way back. These were my people. I was ready, along with them, to fight for my way of life.
Je suis pres. Ready for what? For whatever God calls me to do.
My word of the year has been “trust." About three times this year my brain has literally stopped as if banging into a wall, realizing that I needed to step out in faith and trust God for something. I then moved forward with that situation, because how could I not if I was serious about trusting God? Those times have prepared me to say, “I am ready."
It can be scary to tell God that you’re ready for anything. But every time that I choose to trust him, he proves himself trustworthy.
I can’t help but think of the prophet Isaiah in all of this. Isaiah 6:8 has long been a favorite verse of mine: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
Send me! Je suis pres.
Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is email@example.com.