“I write out of total incomprehension that even love isn’t enough and that finally writing might be all I have and that isn’t enough.
I can never get it all down, and besides, there are times when I have to step away from the table, the notebook, and turn to face my own life.
Then, there are times when it’s only coming to the notebook that I truly face my own life. ” –Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Last week, we took the week off. We drove the kids to my mom’s in Seguin, TX, and we exchanged our too-fast-paced city life for expanse and pink-hued sunsets and an always-full cookie jar. As my husband navigated Southbound I-35, I did my best to keep my head down and to swallow the words that make for discouraging back seat driver commentary. I graded math homework, updated some content on the blog, and journaled my thoughts about what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming week.
1. Avoid shame and guilt.
2. Remember what is good about your people.
3. Just be present. Try being present for the whole week.
FOR THE WHOLE WEEK.
As I reflect on the efforts I made to be present for the majority of last week, without child care or school or sports practices, I see those efforts started producing something good in me. Being present allowed me to listen instead of rush to the fix. Being present invited me to feel with people I love rather than motivate them to change. Finally, being present pulled me back from the knee-jerk reactions that dominate way too much of my life’s decisions to silence conflict.
Practically speaking, my change in mindset did propel some disorganization along the way. Consequently, the phone was left behind on our numerous excursions, my mom’s keys were misplaced for an inconvenient amount of days, and the words that spilled out on my laptop were too confessional for any audience to enjoy.
But the lack of order alerted me to see my mess in a new way. As just that — A MESS. A mess full of messy people with messy stuff with messy pasts trying to plan messy futures.
Seeing things for what they are is hard soul work, and it is exactly what the Lord summons His people to do if they seek a REAL relationship with Him.
We bring all of our imperfections to the Throne of Grace, and we choose to hear the truth and believe it. In spite of our mess, when we choose to be present and honest with our stuff, God invites us to believe. He reminds us that our mess does not prevent us from being who we already are: “BUT you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”(1 Peter 2:9).
So, I think the only thing left to do is keep bringing Him every new memory that keeps resurfacing from my Past. He wants my insecurity, the lies I’ve been believing, and the pieces of my life I can’t make sense of, no matter how hard I try to fit them together.
In the furious pace of returning to face my life this week, I can see. Redemption is the long term goal of the working and resting and writing. And, although, basketball practices and pantry stocking and stinky laundry are all up in my business, the light still calls me out of my darkness. And it’s calling you out of your darkness.
A year after starting this conversation on body image, I’m thankful to those of you who have been willing to step into a new space and bring your messy stories forward, into the light.
Good is near.