Loved ones. I hope your holidays were amazing. Ours were. But not in the ways I expected. there was feasting and family and mending fences (with packing tape, if not nails). There were copious amounts of dairy and wine. There was prayer and gratitude, sunshine and archery. It was moderately great. But that wasn’t what drove my holiday. What drove my holiday was the clearing out my space and my mind. I am through one more phase of my life. I no longer have young children. They don’t need a tiny art table or to be monitored downstairs. They like space and time and reading on their own. They need bigger chairs, better markers and real scissors. It’s so strange and welcome. So, naturally, we completely rearranged the entire house. For the entire week. And we’re only halfway done. Doesn’t that sound exhausting?! It is, but it’s also equal parts invigorating and terrifying. I keep having to fight the feeling that I might one day regret throwing out this or that; that one of us might grow back into or out of something; that I won’t find suitable or affordable replacements for any of it. All of these efforts simply mirror the bigger picture that God is drawing on my heart about our future together as a family. It’s not lost on me. But it also doesn’t feel comfortable at all for me to wait for it, or to not know what it looks like. Both my family (extended and immediate) and my career seem on the verge of big change, and while I am excited, it also feels untenable. I am overwhelmed and overloaded. The clear-out was an effort to move some old energy. I suppose it worked, but now I feel empty. Here I sit at the window, waiting for God to fill me back up with wisdom and courage for the next phase. I am wondering here, in want of new energy. And these words just keep bubbling up. I am certain they are God’s best efforts to let me know that all is as it should be, as usual.
“My call has always been to be a bridge, to be an edge dweller, to let those on both sides know what it looks like, to remind the other that the other exists. A therapist once told me that sounded exhausting. Some days and weeks that call is easier than others. And yet, even in the hardest of days, the fellow edge dwellers, we find each other. We whisper stories that warm hearts and remind each other to take breaks. We tell each other things that start with, “I haven’t told anyone this, but…” We don’t fully live in one world or the other. Fellow edge dwellers, take heart. Keep going. Your work is holy.”
~ Holly Rankin Zaher
And I’ll tell you what, I’m definitely on the edge. Re-entry this week has NOT been easy. I have lost my temper more horribly than I care to admit. I crumpled up (and threw) Ella’s math homework Monday night because I was so frustrated. I had to apologize to a sobbing child and admit my ridiculousness to her teacher via email. I sent myself to bed before 9:00 on Monday AND Tuesday nights because I could not trust myself to speak anything but cuss words. I took SO MANY deep breaths yesterday, my houseplants actually look GREENER. This world, these days feel brittle, ready to go up like tinder. My relationships, in and out of family, feel fragile. All of a sudden, I don’t feel like I know what’s in store for any of us. But I know I will keep at it. You see, I’m into commitment. I’ll do whatever it takes, no matter what. So this caught me yesterday like a lifeline (or maybe, in truth, like a clothesline):
“Understand this and you will understand relationship: When we pick a partner/lover/husband/wife[/child] we will inevitably be choosing a person who comes complete with an entire set of re-occurring patterns (some of which will interlock with our own) and their own unique set of unsolvable problems that will be with you forever; along with their beautiful eyes and amazing great sense of humor (hopefully). If you can get this – and approach it all as a team – the relationship might be successful. You might even stay in the relationship a really long time and be mostly very happy. If you go at this any other way – welcome misery.”
These re-occurring patters and unsolvable problems feel like the end of me when I am not balanced enough to see them and let them go as not my own. When I allow them to interlock with my own, I become quite intolerant(able). When I dig down to the base of all this trouble, I see one simple truth. What I’m trying to shed isn’t old energy at all. It’s layers of confusion and coping, patterns and problems that I have learned through living here in my human self. These patterns and problems are not part of my spirit. This bumping into each other thing? It isn’t real at all. It’s all a story I’m making up in response to everyone else’s patterns and problems. All I really have to do is change the story. If I can shed that story, then we can simply meet, spirit to spirit with human heaped up on top, warts and all.
My children do not know this dynamic yet, and so they suffer. I’m doing my best to explain it, to mind it, but I only understand it so well, myself. I also don’t consistently succeed with this information just yet, so I suffer, too. And I’m OK with that. This is a long game, loves, and one that I will keep playing, willingly. Until we all get there, it helps me to keep my values (intrinsic and extrinsic) for them in mind:
What I want my children to know most of all in this life is that relationships matter more than anything else. Having and holding relationships isn’t easy, but it’s important. I want them to notice what other people need. I want them to learn how to support those needs, and when not to intercede. I want them to know that sometimes other people have to come first. First, not at the expense of ourselves, not in a martyr way, but simply first. I want them to know that we can do hard things and still keep our integrity, even from the edge. I want them to be educated and savvy, both. Most of all, I want them to surround themselves with people that know them and hold them in love implicitly, whether that happens with the family they were born to, or with a family they choose for themselves.
I cannot wait to gather with you tonight and hear about your time with family went. Did your family train stay on the tracks or derail somewhere around Saturday afternoon? How was your re-entry? Did it look like mine or did you find the grace of Glennon?
We will be a small group tonight, and we will miss those of you who are gone. We will eat Zoe’s, circle up, and be real. Because love wins. In these next two weeks, we will be formulating a game plan for winter break. There will be more of this family togetherness in one hot minute, and I do not intend for any of us to spend it hiding in a cloffice (see: Glennon, above). Carrie Contey has gifted us a beautiful workbook from Slow Family Living and I’m working up a list of digital enrichment for those moments when what we desire most is to pretend to live alone.
Take good care loved ones. May the odds be ever in your favor.