january 26 . 2019

On Dreaming.

I want to add something to the processing I started in the last piece of writing – something I realized in the last several weeks.

It wasn’t just my pragmatism that’s kept me from dreaming all these years.

It’s also the fact that I never imagined that I would get to my age and be doing life alone.

I know I’m not  a l o n e … I obviously have a loving family and a rich community around me.

I mean, alone, as in navigating life without a husband to do it next to.

I’ll say it again.

I never, in my worst imaginations, thought I’d get to age almost-thirty and not have a person to do life…dreams…being…with.

I’ve been blocked from seeing my future because I never planned to be here in my future. 

The future *always* included two of us… two, that became one merged life…to process, to grieve, to celebrate, to encourage, to fight with and through and out the other side.

There was never supposed to be just me.

That’s why I couldn’t dream. That’s why I never had an answer for my therapist when for months she tirelessly encouraged me to look behind to get clues, and then ahead to see what they could be pointing towards. The answer only ever included marriage. And maybe grad school – after I was married and didn’t have to work to support myself through it.

This realization, or revelation, has actually brought me a lot of peace and comfort. No, there’s nothing wrong with me having an inability to dream up impossible things. I’m not behind.

I’ve just been stuck. For more than two decades.

It probably takes awhile to undo the brain chemistry that reaches the proverbial fork in the neuropathway of dreaming and always goes left – towards Hopeful-For-Marriage…

…and the path to the right is little more than over-grown, small footprints, barely discernible now.

But it’s clear to me: that if marriage is yet delayed, or potentially not in my future at all, that that trek to the right is still very much an option. And what meadows, and rich forests, and magical waterfalls could there be in that direction? What expanses of glory and wonder await the traveler, if she only has the courage to push through the brush and bring a lantern to light the way that may be a little dark, and certainly unknown?

I’m going to find out.

 

january 5 . 2019

Since I was about eight or nine years old, I have not been able to dream (imagine something huge and ‘impossible’ for my future) about anything in my life besides future relationships with boys and my wedding.

If there comes a thought that sounds like, “oohh, I wonder if…” my brain quickly shuts it down with, “nahh, that can’t work because _______.” (it’s too late to try that – you’re not cute enough for that – no one would invite you to do that – you can’t make money at that – etc.)

So instead, I make goals, and work to achieve those goals like anyone else would – but that isn’t the same as picturing something that doesn’t yet exist, and getting excited about something happening there that is way bigger than you and what you could accomplish on your own.

The goals and plans I make for myself are totally achievable – by myself. It has been safer that way, in my control, and timeline for the most part.

Sometime last year, I came to see that I don’t have a greater direction I’m moving in; I don’t have a dream for my life that I’m praying will come to pass, or looking for ways to make it happen.

Besides marriage, there is nothing I care that deeply about.

Except – I think there might be. I think I just forgot how to use my imagination that way. I think I gave in to pragmatism right around the time when I was ten or eleven and understood that you don’t just wake up one day and become a World Cup Level soccer star like Mia Hamm…you have to work for a dream like that.

Well, I didn’t love soccer enough to work for that dream, so I let it go.

The point is, I want to dream. I want to find the need in the world that I can help satisfy and heal, and I want to direct my life toward that. I want to anchor in who I was created to be, and I want to orient myself in the direction of something impossible that needs my prayers, my attention, my effort, and my heart.

And I’m working hard not to believe that I am starting too late – at almost-thirty.

This year, I’m ready to start letting my heart take risks to believe that the impossible could be possible. It’s not pragmatic, and it won’t make sense to my naturally-black-and-white thinking, but I think it’ll be worth it.

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(I did not hand letter this, and I can’t find who did!! But I love it and I love Annie F. Downs and I’m sorry for not giving credit!)

november 21 . 2018

A Lesson

 

You think you’re way, way past a thing, and It wells up again.

Despair. The Questions, Did I miss it? What could I have done differently?

Over, and over, and over again. For a day, or so.

And then you forget. For a month, or maybe a year or so.

But a dream comes in the night; you can’t control its coming.

Why?

Why now?

This isn’t helpful, this isn’t healing, this isn’t doing anything but digging up Past,

who has passed – long passed – so there is no purpose for this.

Frustration. Inner Critic on the loud speaker: what is wrong with you? Move on.

But I have. I promise I have.

Place hand on Critic’s shoulder and say with kindness learned over times and times again: nothing is wrong with me. My heart is alive. It’s beating. It’s open. It’s remembering.

Grace. For what I do not, cannot understand. For my precious heart, that I beat into submission for too long. For my thoughts, that are still learning to bow their knee to their Leader.

Grace in all things.

 

 

 

 

november 18 . 2018

As promised…(or, threatened?) 🙂

I am a whole person. Complete. Right now – unmarried.

I used to believe that I was incomplete that way – that I was spending my life on the magical and romantic search for my other half.

I wrote about my realization that my “life” wouldn’t start at the altar here, and I’ve been doing my darndest to live that out since.

I’ve chosen joy instead of wallowing in misery – at least most of the time, if I’m honest. 

I’ve chosen to travel by myself when I could have easily stayed home.

I’ve chosen to stay open to new relationships when I could have let my heart grow hard and bitter.

I’ve chosen to work hard on myself, to grow, sacrifice, stay curious and inspired, to extend grace to myself and learn to love myself.

I’ve chosen to stay connected to community.

I’ve chosen to stay at my home church, filled with young and old married couples with children, instead of attending other churches where there is a better chance of meeting someone single.

Because that’s what a whole person does. They live their life, their one wild, beautiful, dream-of-a-life, and they keep showing up.

Even when that life holds debt that would be easier to pay off with a shared income.

Even when that life continues to be invited to weddings that are attended alone.

Even when that life is constantly reminded of the growing distance between themselves and their age-mates, those who are experiencing trials and joys from marriage and kids that simply can’t be related to.

Even when that life is sick in the middle of the night and wishing that there was someone present to hold her and pray with her.

I am a whole person. Right now.

I’m realizing that actually walking that out is less about a huge epiphany in one season of life, and more about a daily – even hourly – decision to look for the delight in this one wild, beautiful, dream-of-a-life that I’ve been given.

I can’t resent this season when I’m seeing the glory in it.

I can’t resent God for what He’s not bringing me when I’m focusing on what He has brought me.

I can’t resent other people for getting the answers to prayers that I’ve longed for when I’m choosing to celebrate with them.

I am a whole person – blessed, gifted, cherished, championed, set apart, and destined for wonder.

 

Written with a commitment to post within a few minutes of expression, very little spellchecking, and willingness to embrace the inevitable vulnerability hangover.

november 15 . 2018

On Millennial Dating in Your Late Twenties: A Rant

Prelude: If you know me, you know that I love men – I think they’re wonderful and amazing, and I have great godly men in my life who I trust and respect deeply – this is not in reaction to any men in particular beyond the few yahoos with whom I have “horror” stories, bless their hearts. 

I’ll start by saying, I find it unnerving that men who date online are annoyed by the fact that women find their height to be important.

First – in my experience – men lie about their height. By at least 2 inches. And a girl of solid character like me is rightfully concerned about someone who lies about something as insignificant (in terms of things you would lie about) as their height, because what ELSE are you lying about??

Second – I’ll just state what anyone over 5’9″ is thinking – it’s super unfair that the short girls care about height. They’re ruining it for us Amazons out here.

That said, after and inside of the years I’ve spent trying to find a kind, secure, Jesus-loving man who is over five feet and ten inches tall – both on the inter-web, and in “Real Life” – permit me the opportunity to let the well-meaning, “older”, married folk who are concerned about us twenty-something millennials-who-just-can’t-seem-to-figure-it-out in on a mildly-important, true-to-my-life-experience fact:

Dating these days is exhausting, and – I would argue – way harder than it was for you.

For Christians who didn’t meet their soulmates at their private Christian universities, or in YWAM, or at BSSM, or in the Bible study on campus when they were 19 years old, our options for good godly people really slim down in our twenties – especially if you’re choosing a church for the Spirit, and not because of the of-marrying-aged-parishioners options. Just that spiritual and emotional gymnastics routine in itself (as in, trying to decide whether you will or won’t choose where you worship based on how many single people there are there) won’t bring much energy to a soul.

Especially for a woman who is wired to respond to pursuit – having to “put oneself out there” over and over again is wearing. I really only have the stamina to do it for a few weeks at a time until I need to take a break.

“Being too picky” isn’t the problem here. And on that note, if I had a dollar for every day two people arbitrarily gave me either end of the advice spectrum: “stop being so picky” or “don’t settle for anything less than God’s best!”, I’d be out of student loan debt by now. Of course they mean well, but clearly there’s more going on here that can’t be solved by following either of those directions.

As I was saying, if you think “being picky” means I won’t seriously date someone who smokes pot, or is a kinda-sorta-if-my-lady-wants-to-drag-me-I’ll-go-to-church attender, or someone who breaks off our relationship because I won’t sleep with them before marriage, or someone who wants me to be subservient and “submissive (read: defer to him every time we disagree) wife” then okay, YES, you’re right! I am being picky!

Because that’s what we’re dealing with today, folks.

The culture has convinced most people – especially in my city – that they can choose their own truth. There is no moral code. “Love” wins the day every time – and you can define Love however you want to.

As a person who doesn’t align with those values, maybe you can see a little clearer how dangerous it would be to partner myself with a person who does. We would be ill-matched. We would, worst case, end up adding to the horrific divorce rate.

It’s hard. It’s complicated.

And I know tomorrow I’ll be writing about how I’m a whole human being right now, and I don’t need a husband to complete me, so please choose a different first question during meet-and-greet at church than, “So, are you married?”.

And then the next day, obviously, I’ll be writing about how I’m trying to be in it for the long haul because I refuse to give up hope that there isssss my Charlton Heston out there sommmmewheeerrrrre (childhood crushes never fade, amirite).

to be continued.

Written with a commitment to post within a few minutes of expression, very little spellchecking, and willingness to embrace the inevitable vulnerability hangover.

november 13 . 2018

Brené Brown is kicking my butt again – as she does.

She’s got me thinking about belonging.

It’s so important to humans, this, being known and accepted, confident that you have a place here – wherever and with whomever here may be for you.

You’re supposed to belong in your family.

You’re supposed to belong in your childhood home.

You’re supposed to belong in your church.

You’re supposed to belong with the people you count on, the ones you lean on, the ones you text in desperation when you need prayer the most.

You’re supposed to belong to your own life, right?

What if you find yourself smack-dab-in-the-middle-of, stuck, irreversibly in motion in a life that you never wanted for yourself? Never pictured for yourself? Observed in others many years ago and thought, God, I hope that life never happens to me.

What then?

How do you belong in a community filled with soul-connections who will perpetually be in seasons just “beyond” you, seasons that you seem to constantly find just out of reach of your own fingertips?

There seems to be a limit to what you can say to each other – a limit to the advice given and received. A limit to the things you are able to participate in – because of timing, because of obligations, because of restraints that are all-too-familiar to you, but are foreign to them. A limit to the invitations you get because you just…

don’t…

quite…

fit.

Belong?

Written with a commitment to post within a few minutes of expression, very little spellchecking, and willingness to embrace the inevitable vulnerability hangover.

november 12 . 2018

I’m taking the next step in my separation from Perfectionism:

I’m writing.

I’ve learned that Perfectionism is a lousy lover…controlling, manic, arrogant.

You need the perfect environment to write well; wait until you can enjoy it.

Your thoughts aren’t formed enough yet; wait until you have something conclusive to say.

You have no photos to accompany your words. Wait until you can afford a camera to take your own pictures and impress people with them.

You’re not in a healthy state of mind/soul/body/being to write; wait until you are more stable. You don’t want people thinking you’re needy.

Someone else is already saying what you want to say. You’ll just look like you’re imitating them if you say it too. Wait until you have something creative and innovative to say.

Wait.

What a jerk. 

As it turns out, Perfectionism used Waiting to get me to befriend Silence and Scarcity. But I don’t like them either.

So, here I am. Writing. Practicing the art of ignoring my inner critic and laying fingers to keys, because – first, honestly, I enjoy the sound typing makes. And – I also have things to say. In a season where I have been telling myself I need to be careful and quiet and cautious – because have you seen how people’s words are being used against them day in and out? – I need to obey the stillest, smallest, most solid voice inside of me that is pressing against my throat: God in me, speaking, and wanting to use MY VOICE to say it.

Even if I’m only preaching to myself – I’m going to say it.

Written with a commitment to post within a few minutes of expression, very little spellchecking, and willingness to embrace the inevitable vulnerability hangover.