On the In-Between

I haven’t written much in this space as of late. Part of it is I’ve been busy around the time the What I’m Into linkups have been happening. And the truth is, I’ve been afraid to write here.

My life at this age is not what I anticipated. I was never the kind to make concrete plans, never quite knowing mystically what I wanted to do in life. I counted too heavily on a change in me, to make things fit. Maybe when I’m 23 and graduated, I’ll want to teach, I’ll be better at teaching. Maybe this life will teach me what I need. 23 came and went, I lack the talent I thought it would bring me. Lectures on literature didn’t quite teach me how to teach. Professors didn’t inspire me the way I thought. If anything, I’d take after the three professors I loved the most, two young and one insightful. They aren’t who I ever thought I’d take after, but it’s the most fitting I see myself in them. The two, who would do things outside the structure of a typical class. One teaching me how to explore my writing deeper, the other playing U2 at the end of class, because it connected with that classic Greek story we were discussing that week. The more insightful man, his class varied. There was always room for discussion. Sometimes it seemed he spoke so high above my level of understanding, I couldn’t discern a thing. Sometimes, he’d talk about the way a piece of literature connected with scripture so deeply and I left the classroom moved. These are the people who taught me the most, who made me feel the most comfortable being myself in their classrooms.

I used to think in absolutes, black and white. Things either had to be this way or the other. But now, I’m starting to realize how untrue that is. I’m learning to live in this world of colors and embrace it. I’m learning and seeking to find my place here.

I frequently have to remind myself that just because I didn’t encounter what I anticipated doesn’t mean my stories aren’t worth telling. Because I’m stuck in the detour now doesn’t mean I’ll be stuck forever. If I put work in, I’ll find my voice.

This space matters to me. Writing matters. You’re going to see more of me, more of my words soon. I promise.

When We Were Young

{When I was in freshman in high school, there was a woman who was a senior who I really looked up to. She was really cool, smart, and wise. I really wanted to be like her and I hoped that when I was her age (or older), I’d have the opportunity to give back, to have kind of impact on others that she had on me. Writing with that in mind is where that piece comes from. I hope you enjoy it.}

my dear precious girl,

i still remember you when you were young. the image of that bright shining girl, who was full of life and enthusiasm. she sparkled and held onto dreams. most of all, she was filled with possibility.

i remember as you began to grow. still filled with life and enthusiasm. still holding onto dreams. but you battled hard with the voices of doubt. voices that told you that you didn’t measure up.

the voices were wrong–are wrong. you do measure up. you are a part of something beautiful. and you are beautiful. i love you just the way you are. you don’t have to prove it, you just have to live it.

you don’t have to try, so please stop striving. live in who you are. because who you are is beautiful. who you are is loved. who you are is a blessing to those around her.

i hope you don’t go chasing contentment, thinking that if you gain enough, if you become enough, then you will finally find it. no, beautiful one, contentment is with you. contentment is accepting yourself. contentment is learning to love yourself, learning to care for yourself and silence the voices. contentment is growing in grace and in God. contentment is peace and trust when you’re not where you want to be.

things might not be what you want them to be. those dreams of yours, they are still good, even if they might not come true. or even if they are filled with so much pain because it seems as through they will never happen. and just thinking about them brings tears. God walks through those moments with you. God has given you the heart of a dream for a reason. you are exactly where you are supposed to be. you are shining a light. and when you find contentment between here and the future, you are providing a beacon of hope for other followers of God. we all need encouragement in the hard times. the ones who love you will always be there to pray with you, laugh with you, and speak words of truth into you.

remember two things: i believe in you. and i love you. always.

On confronting my fears

I don’t know when this idea made its way into my head, sneaking through my defenses and somehow rooting itself without my knowledge or consent. But today, when I was cathartically writing I realized that I was thinking as though I could mess up my future with one wrong choice.

One wrong choice means I don’t get the right boyfriend. One wrong choice means I live somewhere I’m miserable. One wrong choice and I’ve messed it all up beyond repair.

I once swore I’d never date and marry a man from Florida. Though I don’t feel bound to that anymore, I know the reasons why younger me swore that and was quite emphatic about it. Many of the people who come to live here, love it and they want to stay. “It’s too cold up north and we’re so close to the beach here,” that’s the mindset I’d encountered.

I’ll confess that sometimes it can get too cold up north but then, I grew up in Florida and I wear some sort of coat when it gets around 50 degrees. (But then, I’m also embarrassingly in love with snow) When I ventured away from Florida, moving to another state, I experienced the seasons for the first time. I fell in love with the swift changes and the colors that surround them. The flowers that bloom on the trees, purple, yellow, pink and white blossoms bring the joy of new life after a winter bundled up. I gathered those flowers, picking beautiful pink blossoms off my favorite tree and twirling the stem in my fingers, lifting it up to smell its sweet fragrance, fresh with a hint of honey and apple.  Fall became my favorite of seasons, the leaves turning in color to gold, orange, deep red and burgundy.

I didn’t want to be with someone who would keep me in Florida and wouldn’t want to explore the great world around us. Who would be content with his surroundings and wouldn’t be the adventurous sort. I couldn’t name it then, but I was adventurous. I was also just coming out of being homeschooled and didn’t want to rush into being a second generation homeschool parent, like some of my peers. I wanted to forge my own path that would be good for me. I wanted to see what else was out there, beyond my sphere.

I used to fear that I’d get trapped into a situation I couldn’t escape without compromising my moral integrity. I thought I knew better than that, I didn’t think I feared that anymore, but it seems to have returned. Part of thriving is realizing that’s not true—that’s not something I need to fear. If I’m ever in a situation I didn’t anticipate, I have options. I won’t be trapped. I won’t have to compromise. I’ve seen stories in my life that illustrate that to me. And with each reminder, I slowly begin to feel more free.

I think thriving will mean figuring out how to forge my own path again. I’ve been so focused upon healing, upon the tasks I know I need to do, that I haven’t thought about it. I don’t have a complete picture of what that forging will look like in this season of my life. Except that it will involve lots of coffee and tea. And I will be braver for it. I hope thriving for me will mean getting to see the spring blossoms and fall leaves again soon.

One Word 2014

I’ve never participated in one word year before. The idea of picking one idea, pinning it down and sticking to it, always seemed so restrictive for me. I’d seen so many seasons of my life where one word for a year would be too short. Last year was the first year that I strongly wanted to choose one, but I couldn’t settle on a single word.

In those feeble first moments of 2013, I wanted hope. I longed for a year of All Things New. In 2012, I felt like I’d been swept up into a tornado, then dropped into the aftermath, injured and unable to fully pick myself up. I struggled with a lot of self-doubt—and really I just wanted everything to go back to the way it had been. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened in 2013. What the new year brought me was not what I had been expecting and All Things New is a process that is going to take more than a calendar year.

I was starting to find hope at the end of 2012, which carried through 2013. It came through the voices of good friends who spoke truth into my life that I couldn’t see at the time. I began to find hope in their words; I couldn’t see that truth for myself yet, but if they could, it had to be there. It was the beginnings of a healing process that’s still in motion for me right now.

I started thinking about a word for 2014 as I saw the blog posts starting to pop up. At first, it felt tender to me. I thought about brave and courageous…but faltered, a bit. They felt oversized, like something I would need to go into but something I didn’t fit into yet. They were also heavy, ripe with expectations I didn’t (and still don’t) know if I can achieve yet.

The word had popped into my head but it wasn’t until a blog post from Bethany Suckrow when I began to feel confident in it. Thrive. It seemed to encompass what I wanted this new year to be.

And as I’ve pondered over it, I know, this is what I want. This is what, I hope, will usher in a new season of my life. I want to heal, and I want to be able to thrive in all aspects of my life. I want to do new things (hopefully without crippling anxiety). I want to laugh more. I want to be successful. I want to accomplish goals. I want to be a better artist. I want to find wonder in the world around me.

In 2014, I want to be brave, I want to be courageous, and I want to thrive. I hope that those words will take roots and grow into something beautiful. And I hope that the experiences I have this year will be positive.

If you haven’t read the post from Bethany I linked earlier, go read it. It’s really good. I’m grateful for her post and that inspiration she gave me.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2014?