Before You Go
This year came up behind me, wrapping warm, gentle arms all around me. When hard things have happened (and they have), this year whispered in my ear, telling me that I am brave, that I am loved, that I am enough.
I can’t say why it was this year. It certainly wasn’t anything that I did (though I tried to listen, and I tried to be faithful). I guess it’s all part of the beauty and mystery of God’s hand in mine as we journey together, One of us outside of time, still choosing to be present with me, inside it, as well.
This wonderful, transformative year is almost over, and I’m taking time to look back before I look forward. I’m excited about the future. There are things I want to do, things I have planned for this space (and otherwise), things I’m wondering and praying about. But before I plunge into the new year (which I will probably write wrong until April), I want to stop for a moment, and let it be enough.
Because it is.
I began the new year by ending a relationship. I wrote about that this week. What I didn’t say, is that it was the first relationship I’ve ever ended. I have a history of holding on until the bitter end. The red flags could wave in my face, blinding me, limiting my movement, but I wouldn’t be the one to make the call, no matter what.
Until this year.
That decision led to more brave relational decisions (one of which, I’m writing about for this upcoming Monday. There, now I have to do it). I stopped holding on so tightly. When warning bells went off in my head, I leaned closer and let them speak to me.
I ran, both towards and away from.
I learned that being single could be wonderful and satisfying, mingling scandalously with difficult and empty. I found that I could be thankful for this season at the same time as wanting it to be finite.
I discovered, quite against my will, that dating can be delicious and smooth, like gelato.
I left a job which did not call upon my creativity, for a “real job.” I found out that I could do it. I could go to work every day, continue to create, and to meet deadlines. I had always wondered if it was possible.
Perhaps poetically, I learned that jobs are like relationships. You can focus on the positives, you can try to see the silver linings, or you can leave.
Sometimes, leaving is the right thing. Sometimes life is customizable.
My path stretches before me, unique to me. I am engaged in meaningful work which pays the bills. It is real.
After years of calling friends and sounding them out to see if they were free before I asked them to hang out, I started to be honest about how lonely I was. I told the Lord, I told my bank teller, I told my small group, and the internet.
I spent last Saturday in silence in my church. A whole day of silence, forsaking my right to be heard, trying to listen. One of the things that emerged from that time was this: I used to ache from loneliness. It was my story, my song, my prayer request, my weary refrain. Now, there are people that I miss. There are relationships that I would love to see form. I sometimes experience loneliness, but I am not lonely now. I have been surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, and like a cloud, the sensation has snuck up on me, the cloud is now all I can see, all around me.
In the wake of a dark time this summer, I cracked open like an egg. I had always been afraid of cracking, or breaking, knowing full well that I was broken already, just as we all are, in different ways.
I went to counseling for the first time, saying things I’d always been afraid to say out loud. I found that the power of those things diminished as I spoke them. I started to speak them outside of that room.
I have not stopped.
It’s possible that all of this happened because I asked to see. When I was worried, or frustrated, even happy, I asked for deeper vision.
I don’t always love this, it’s a constant challenge. But it’s been a constant delight, as well.
There are things that I’ve assumed, lived with, and believed for many years, through many churches, under many leaders. Slowly, I’m taking things out and looking at them, examining them in the light, with prayer. Friends have taken my hand, pointing into the distance: “Look, do you see?” or “Look, God is doing something new, here.” This has changed the way I pray, the way I read the Bible, and the way I relate to those around me.
I think that sometimes God takes me at my word. When I named this blog Little Did She Know, it seems to me that He accepted the challenge. There were cracks along the way, this year. I cried out in pain, I struggled against hurtful impulses of many kinds, but as I look back, I can see the grace, flooding the path. I am trusting that the tide will flow freely, carrying me safely into 2014 (and beyond).
This post was written in response to a prompt from my new writing community Story Sessions. If you’re a writer looking for a community, this one might be a good place for you, come and see.