There you are.
We haven’t been alone together in so long. I’ve missed you. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to hear you very well over all the noise.
These little ones demand a lot of my attention, especially on a no-nap day. And there are deadlines and softball practice and a house that just won’t clean itself no matter how much I plead. There’s the weed-filled garden, friends in crisis, and those lists. They just keep getting longer. And my family keeps requesting that I feed them three meals a day (plus snacks) every. single. day. It’s exhausting, really.
Do you ever feel like your life is speeding forward at breakneck speed and as you push the pedal to the floor you catch glimpses out of the corners of your eyes of all the things you are passing right by?
Every day I have an idea of something I’d like to write about, some thoughts I’d like to pluck out and spend some time holding up to the light. Something I can examine and analyze and bend and mold until it can stand alone and say something to the world. Some days my thoughts just have to sit and wait in a dark corner.
This has been a fast-paced couple of weeks for our family. The school year has sprinted off the start line. I’m ready for her to settle into a nice steady jog. I miss being alone with my thoughts. Without them I am disconnected from myself and if I keep that up too long my edges begin to unravel and suddenly that’s not the only disconnect I’m feeling.
I meet my thoughts in writing. Where do you meet yours? In music, in art, in your garden, in the kitchen while whipping up a gourmet meal? Or maybe you’re one of those crazy people who loves being alone with a mop or a sponge scrubbing your house clean. If that’s you, please come to my house.
There are seasons in life when our own thoughts get crowded out. It happens. Things have to be done – important things. But don’t keep it up too long. Don’t keep pushing your thoughts back into their dark corner because your heart and your mind need light to grow. Thoughts that aren’t nurtured and fertilized with creativity will eventually wither away. Where does that leave us?
All those little morsels of promise wasted. We can’t capture every one of them but we must keep grabbing onto a few when we can, giving them air to breathe and a chance at life.
Make some room for a thought or two today. Find a quiet corner and write it. Paint it. Bake it. Speak it. Share a thought – any thought.
It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s yours.
WHEN YOU ARE ANYTHING BUT ‘FINE’
There was a moment, many years ago, when I took those first fumbling steps toward freedom. After months of turmoil, my marriage was officially failing. I carried shame around like a stinky old blanket I couldn’t let go of. It took three phone conversations over the course of a month before I was able to tell my mom about my impending divorce.
When you’ve lived your life as the good girl who’s always “fine,” no one ever really expects you to drop a bomb like that. The rhythm of the conversation would always dance around my latest achievement or my concern over someone else. Admitting that a storm was raging in my own life would mean admitting my failure to keep the sun shining. Isn’t that ridiculous? To think that any person could be responsible for the weather? But the weight I placed on my own ability to control the world around me was nearly equal to that.
On the phone with my mom that day, I suddenly found myself in a situation I could not “fine” myself out of. And so my first step toward living an authentic life came with this one statement: “I’m not doing well.”
The words were so hard to choke out all those years ago, but they’ve gotten easier. I’m in the habit of saying them now because the truth is, there are days for all of us when things aren’t going so well. Interestingly, ever since that first admonition, my life has gotten better. I guess everything wasn’t really riding on my success after all. Freedom was found in the failure.
Growing up in the church, I knew that perfection was not a prerequisite for faith. But I did strive to be really good. When all the things I was really good at failed me, I had nothing to hold onto. And sometimes when we have nothing—that’s when we really begin to find something. A life based on truth and grace. And that is everything.
Many years ago, a half-drunk guy sitting next to me on a flight, attempted to engage me in a philosophical discussion. Once he learned I was working on my Ph.D. in psychology he suggested I write a book. I guess a couple of gin and tonics made me sound like a genius. Interestingly, that guy spoke aloud a dream I had held quietly in my heart for a long time—the dream of being a published writer.
A few years ago I read these words from Emily P. Freeman, “Maybe you are hiding from your dreams because to face them would mean admitting they are there. And to admit they are there would mean you aren’t living them after all.”
In my life dreams aren’t the only things I have hidden. Writing has been the means of drawing me out of my hiding places—the places that felt safe but were slowly killing me. Once I moved from writing for myself to writing for others I finally began to move from the shadows and into the light. I began to experience a desperate need to vulnerably step out into the open.
There is surprising healing in that place. For myself, and for others. Out in the wide open with heart laid bare you find you are not alone after all. Your arm doesn’t have to stretch far before you are grasping onto the hand of another broken person right beside you. Together we step forward. In truth. In grace. In freedom.
And, perhaps, for the first time, we really are ‘fine’.