I wish I could pinpoint the moment it happened. There have been so many times in my life I can distill down to a moment. A conversation, situation, experience or feeling that changed everything. Or at least changed something. This time I can’t. In every single way it feels different.
As frost etches the corners of the leaves, we transition from a beautiful fall into a still winter and I feel a similar chill settle over my spirit. Wrapping a blanket snugly around my shoulders I can no longer suppress my suspicion that much like life in the northwest, God is calling me into hibernation too.
Deepak Chopra said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” That has always been true in my life. The greatest, most profound changes in my life have been brought about by tension, suffering, striving, hurting or loss of some kind. Until now.
Without words to express it adequately, this change that I feel happening inside me seems to be driven by something entirely different. This change seems to be rising from a place of contentment. Peace. In a world according to Deepak and all of my past history, I’m not sure what that means. But I do know I’m in it. Trying to figure out what, and where I go from here.
All of my life has been driven by story. I think we would all agree that the very best are. Whether my own or one found in a friend, a stranger or even a book, stories are powerful. We learn how to live, how to grow, how to love, and who we want to be – by listening to others’ stories. Determining what resonates, what doesn’t fit and what surely must be left behind. Fleshed out in the living, breathing, real live people and world around us. It’s how we learn to practice the art of living life well. Not from the perspective of the outside in — but from the inside out. What really matters the most.
I guess that’s what this season is really about. What matters? Figuring out what that is for me and our family, and what God put me on this Earth to do with my one short life. I’ve done a lot of things for a lot of different reasons, but right now I’m coming around not totally sure.
For so long I lived my life to please the world. To rise up, to catch up, or to measure up to something I couldn’t grasp hold of. At least not for long. So much weight and power given to the world and the words, life and opinions of others. Many of them gone from this world or my own small world in a breath.
Years ago I left home and went to college. I got married and started a new life. I moved across the country following my heart and it led me back to my parents front door. I started over again, on my own again, for the fourth time. I set out to sacrifice family and focus on career and met my husband in a coffee shop no sooner than I had started. A few years later I was a mom. One thing I have learned in my life to this point is I’m not the best planner. I don’t always make the right choices or decisions and I fail frequently. I’m quick to follow my heart. I dream big, love large, trust easily and am loyal, perhaps to a fault.
I’ve weathered many dramatic life changes and I find myself in yet another transition. Keeping all those characteristics so deeply written in my heart – faith, obedience, blind trust, love and loyalty – but learning who to give them to and how. There is only One who deserves those things in full measure and I’ve too frequently given them away for free.
I wrote my story of identity in the pages of Pretty as I broke free from my own superficial life. But the truth is that writing the book only broke me so far. Perhaps a broken, much more aptly described: awoken. Awoken to what I saw in the world and myself; in relationships and people; in the reality so often caught between the sliver-thin thread of a truth and a lie. Writing that book changed me in deep, meaningful ways, but it was only the start.
God continues to challenge my spirit and call me deeper into Him. Deeper into His word and His life and His desire for me to live true to who I am. Years ago when I wrote that book I would’ve said I was broken. I felt broken. But I don’t anymore. I am no longer broken.
Today I am living out the very real story of redemption and the restoration God can bring in a life unafraid of living into it’s own story. A life willing to live inside it’s own truth.
For the last five years I have faithfully and consistently met with two women as we travel life. We have walked together through growth, change, trial, celebration, joy, grief and deep suffering. We have knelt before one another in prayer and thanksgiving, we have circled our families, neighborhoods, relationships and heartaches in love. Our commitment to God, ourselves, our communities and each other is written out for us in Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
While I am not sure what change is happening inside me, I know I’m transitioning into a new facet of these very same verses. From the ashes of my past is rising a crown of incredible beauty. It is with a joyful and humbled heart that I see His great faithfulness playing out in my own imperfect life. That I look back and see redemption, restoration, healing and grace. He is so good.
In this season of thanksgiving I encourage you to write down your own restoration story. Find a word, a phrase, a few sentence or fill a journal full of pages. What beauty is He building from the ashes? What joy rises out of your mourning? What praise presses forward from a former spirit of despair?
You own your story. You may not always write it perfectly and stumble your way through it like me – but every transition has purpose. Every failure brings you closer to your future. Every wrong can lead you right if you trust Him. As I lean into what God is doing in my life and where He is leading me I will not be writing here as much during the month of December, but will be back in January with new vision and renewed passion. I’ll pop in as I’m led to share and celebrate the season but it won’t be regular and I appreciate your grace in advance. I’m grateful for this community and all you have done to heal my heart and encourage me in love over these last three years. May you be blessed this holiday season as you celebrate His great abiding love for you.
Much love, xoxo