This March I turned thirty seven and it is safe to say life is about as different as I could hav ever imagined. I have spent the last decade+ working to become a very particular person. In many ways it has not played out as I imagined and then in other ways it has exceeded every expectation….isn’t life so strange that way? But in this moment I am looking forward and feeling positive about what this 37th year may hold, even if I have no idea! Getting to this point has been the result of three distinct messages.
The first and most powerful: if I give up now, I won’t be able to witness that power of his work. I will never ever forget where I was when I was praying hard to God and this was the clear response. He reminded me that on the other side of the surrender can be a chance to witness his ways… wow. My front row seat to “what in the world” is also the one to “wow, He really did know best”. And the only way to get there is to just keep going.
The next message is a combo of truths that I have known for a long time, but have been reminded of a little more frequently. I only have control over two things: my reactions and my relationship with God. Although these two realities feel like they are yelling much louder these days, they are actually skills I have been working on perfecting most of my life and a huge portion of my adult life. Take this blog as exhibit A.
But the truth is as I look back a lot of my challenges, although unexpected, have never been out of the realm of possibility based on the life I chose. A surprise? YES! Completely unexpected for life with a sick spouse? No. But this year brought realities I would never even think was possible and so my skills of managing my reactions were put to the test. But just like all the seasons before now, it remains true: I can find the good and there is always something to be grateful for. And funny enough on the days that a positive outlook is impossible, gratitude is the anecdote. Which leads to my gratitude for my faith and the other thing that makes surviving a possibility: I have Him.
So many emotional reaction, untrue thoughts, frustrations, fears and anxieties are rooted in feeling alone and assuming no one can understand this season, thus no one can help. But that is where that second truth is incredibly powerful: I have control over my relationship with God. Am I going to lean into Him and trust (or beg to learn to trust) or am I going to continue to “go it alone”? And probably one of the highlights of this practice: it isn’t about just 100% going with it and trusting with complete acceptance. It can actually include losing it with God… being angry… being hurt… He is big enough, He can take it. And maybe even more powerful? He wants to take it? He wants all of you…. And if you choose to give it and be open to receiving Him back: you won’t stay in that lonely, sad, hurting place forever. Problems won’t necessarily go away, but your perspective and ability to face them will change.
Final message that has made this season not just palatable, but joyful… beautiful even? Being present. When I focus in the exact moment I am in and tell the “what if’s” and “what nexts” and “what abouts” to shut it and just soak in the truths of the moment, it’s amazing what it can feel like. One trick I heard – sadly, I can’t recall where- is to lean into your senses for this… what are you seeing? Feeling? Tasting? I have been amazed how beautiful a simple or frustrating or scary moment can have a sense of transporting you just by noticing how that taste of warm, deep, rich cup of coffee and steam milked can remind me: ah, life is not completely out of control, how awesome is it I can rely on a simple sip to make me feel like me? And I would challenge you that approaching that sip with such purpose, your eyes will find there way to another beauty: pretty sunrise streaking the sky or sweet little girl whose tiny little snores make her eyelashes flutter just so and how blessed that I wake up with her in my bed?? (My mind will sometimes wander then to: there was a time I wondered if I would be a mom and now I know… I am HER mom). Just like that your brain has a different perspective and outlook… just by being present, that lead to some joy… then found itself in some beautiful and eventually some truth that hard does happen and it can still lead to good. Suddenly the muscle that is the brain is being trained to think differently. There are a million theories and studies and faith based practices in this very truth- so in so ways, I don’t like adding to the noise- I am sure you already know it! It’s just, I have never found it more powerful and I want to remember it.
This 37 year I will continue to use these messages and I hope many more. Learning, growing, and reacting to change is hard and not always my favorite… yet it has made me feel a lot of pride for how far I have come and hopeful for what can be. Oh and it is the gift of still have life to live. As started this blog post and worked through it for a few weeks… I struggled with feeling the need to acknowledge the loss- it’s a loud truth in my world. Yet as I have written, I have remembered that my life – in all its seasons- has been about finding the possible in the impossible. I have always been motivated by it… hopeful for it… and excited to capture that… and you know what? That is still very much here. 37 I am ready.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day.