“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” – C. JoyBell C.
I have a sister tribe. We range in ages from 22 to well, not 22 and each of these women brings to our collective friendship the wisdom of her age and then some. And though we’re spread from California to Georgia and Texas to Alberta, we do our best to do life with each other.
It was one of these sisters of mine that posed a list of questions for each of us to get to know each other better. One of those questions was “what is one way you feel you need to simplify your life?“
My response was everywhere.
In the last seven months I’ve allowed myself to give up so much of what I was holding onto. Material possessions, fears, social media, things that have died that I held onto hoping that the breath of life of before might once again course through shriveled bronchial branches.
It has been the letting go and the holding on that has enabled me to fly. Letting go of what keeps me grounded, weak, scared; and holding onto what adds feathers to my wings. Even with its up’s and down’s and hard months my life and my soul feel more at piece than they have been in a while.
So I’m letting go and feeling the freedom of flight.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”- Marylin Monroe
I ran my fingers through my hair and glanced at the canvas lying on my dining room table. The canvas I’ve been slowly working for over a week. The green, mesh netting I added a couple days ago was still attached to it and I recalled my earlier thought that I no longer wanted it on the piece. My bed and sleep beckoned, but the need to remove this scab was greater.
There’s been a lot of letting go for me lately. Things I have no control over. Dead things I have held for too long. I feel them drop from my fingers – fragile things, broken things – and feel their weight lift.
I’ve felt the need for a good cry, but this isn’t the first time tears haven’t joined the melancholy or even the breaking of my soul. I sustain myself in private words, in the scrawling of paint across canvas.
I etch the words in black ink, the words that were presently pouring silently out of my heart. Four words scrawled that will one day be covered with paint, unseen to the unknown viewer’s eye. It was a declaration in the moment. A cry. A shout. A plea.
I’ve been hiding within myself lately. Searching out who I am. A process I believed had occurred over 15 years ago. Perhaps it’s a new me I am discovering.
Perhaps part of the pieces I feel falling from my hands are pieces of the shell breaking apart to allow the new version of myself to emerge. To be honest this rebirth is just as painful as the first time of finding myself. And the fragile egg like shells occasionally cut even the hands that allow them to fall. And I am reminded that this is part of living.
My fingers pull at the netting that has been glued, gessoed, and painted to the canvas. I feel the slight resistance of the canvas as the scab is torn from its flesh. I understand this. There is a catharticness to the ripping off. Pieces remain and though I try they are fixed permanently. This I also understand. I draw out my brush and apply quick, messy, thick strokes of gesso to the area I have just bared open. It is the first of healing ointments that I will apply to the scar I have created.
This piece is my soul. I knew that from its conception. I did not, however, realize just how much of my soul it would be.
There are days that I wake up and soon realize that I can’t do them. That the daily call for getting up and going to work and being an adult is far more that I can carry. The past couple days have been those days. “I don’t have the strength…”, I scrawled in black ink in my journal. “I’m frazzled. Every fuse is short.”, I went on. Both days I’ve felt the compelling need to give up. To hide in a dark closet and not give another thought to the day or anything calling for my attention.
It’s these days that I tend to hide. I sit quietly (more than usual) in my cube at work. I struggle as everything grates on me. The sound of voices, the emails collecting in my inbox. Everything is just another blade against my well being and another weight upon my soul.
I didn’t ask for strength or for help. I was perfectly content to dwell in my miserableness. I didn’t want to have the responsibility of being an adult. I wanted my dark closet. But some how strength found me. Both days. I came to the end of my days with far greater strength than I’d began it with.
Some days I don’t know where this strength comes from. Okay, I do, but you know what I mean. When you have your some days where simply getting out of bed and putting clothes on and grabbing your coffee is more than you can take, we often sit back at the end of these days and wonder how. How we got from sun up to sun down in one piece. Or perhaps a half dozen pieces rather than a thousand.
I’m no expert in this. Well…in the unable to do my days I am fairly proficient. But the finding and dwelling in the mysterious strength I am not. Some days the call of the dark, lonely, quiet place is stronger. Some days the strength doesn’t come. Those days are hard. Those days I don’t have the strength to write it out in my journal. To put a voice to it. Some of those days end with me weaker than when I began. In the thousand pieces where all I can do is collapse.
Some days I don’t even dare to hope to fly. Days when my weary hands leave claw marks from dragging myself through the day. Some days we wear weakness and some days strength mysteriously finds its way into us.
Fear is the dust bunny under your bed that when the light hits it, it casts a shadow 1,000x larger than its true self creating a monster in your line of vision.
Sometimes you walk a road for so long that it’s all you know. You’ve learned to deal with the pot holes, and the slowness. But sometimes you miss the rock and you’ve tripped. You look up at the blue sky and wonder if it’s worth getting back up on your feet. Worth the next step. You wonder how many exits you’ve walked past because you don’t seem to have the faith to just get off this dang road.
You feel the tears slide down your cheeks and they become harder, choking your throat, making mud quickly with the dirt below you. Why, you wonder, why do we continue this path when we know there is something better off it. Where is the faith you were promised if you just asked. You’ve lost count of the times you asked for faith. Yet you lie here with your fears slung over your shoulder. Every now and then you don’t feel their weight because once again they’re all you seem to know.
I’ve written about fear numerous times before. It was a word in 2010 that seemed to choose me. I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. I’ve been thinking about the control it has over my life. Over Shawn’s & my life. I’ve wondered time & time again why we allow fear to dictate the path we stay on.
In his book, The Art of War, Steven Pressfield writes, “So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”
Shawn and I know there are steps we need to take to get off the road we’re currently on; we’re pretty sure that doing so would not only be good in the long and short term, but also beneficial in many areas of our lives emotionally, health-wise, & even spiritually. We we just can’t seem to. We get sidetracked by fear. We get waylaid by the what-if’s. So we stay here walking this miserable road.
In his book he also writes, “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”
It’s a constant learning process for me that most of the time the walking in faith, also means doing it with fear nipping at my soul. As he says, there is no such thing as a fearless warrior. Every day we do things afraid. We decide to get married & do so, we decide to have children & do so, we take the new job, we tell them we love them, we break off the toxic relationship. I think I’m coming to the realization that overcoming my fear, walking in faith simply means coming to the place of acceptance. Coming to the place where I no longer let fear dictate where I will go. If it’s important to me I can’t allow fear to be the voice that keeps me from doing it.
There are going to be a million things between now and the grave where fear is going to rear it’s ugly head at me and tell me that I’m much more comfortable where I am at. It’s going to attempt to swindle me into believing that the safety and security of my present is worth the miserableness I feel. I know it will do these things because it does it now. And I believe it.
I’m learning how to get to the place of accepting that I can walk in fear & faith at the same time. I still expect the roadsigns saying “ALL IS SAFE, YOUR FUTURE IS SECURE. EXIT NOW. FREE ICE CREAM & BROWNIES TOO.” We rarely get those signs, which means I have to tell fear that it is no longer the voice I’m going to pay attention to.
It seems that faith rarely overwhelms fear. It’s an act of doing it while we sweat & shake in our boots. I have a feeling that faith doesn’t necessarily come swooping in after those first few steps, in fact it’s probably a few thousand before we begin to trust that it’s all going to be okay.
“Quentin!” Irene stepped to him, caught his hands in her own. “Don’t you think that I have imagined every awful eventuality? A thousand times. So are we to be frozen in our fears? Are we to be what these monsters wish? Feckless. Fearful. Unable to move? No!” – Carole Nelson Douglas, Castle Rouge
yesterday i was on my way home from the grocery store and in literally a blink of an eye i saw the shadow of a flock of birds flying over head. they were flying fast. i almost missed them.
the thing about flight is …. well at least my flight, is that it hasn’t been a conscious effort. for all my running and jumping and trying to catch air i feel like my feet were cemented to the floor.
i’ve spent the last 5 1/2 months, or more the last year and a half expecting climatic revelations, catastrophic changes in my life. overnight transformations in my ability to hope and trust.
they’ve never came. i’ve had some revelations, on planes headed to eastern europe, on february, wednesday nights when i should be sleeping, on sea shore cliffs. the revelations – like elijah’s – has been when i least expect it. when i’m not trying.
i never had the overnight or even over the course of several months transformations. it’s been a long, not so steady road. it’s been just being. being in my brokenness. being in my lack of faith. because when i can just be there, and not force things, that’s when i begin to see growth.
these year words aren’t about overnight transformations or climatic revelations. we call them our word for the year for a reason, because we know we need time. and sometimes those 365 days are even enough, but we take what we can get.
my hope is beginning.
and I AM TERRIFIED!!!
i’m scared to leave this ground and trust these wings. but flying terrified is better than never finding my fear to leave the ground and miss the beauty awaiting my vision.
i still have six months, seven days left of Fly. i still have a lot to learn. but i’m learning to trust and that is an important first step.
My trip to Moldova was really my first mission trip. I went to Mexico when I was in college for a few days on a church mission trip, but Moldova was so much more, so much more hands on. I came back from Moldova different. I’d experienced first hand the brokenness of those who have been victimized by human trafficking. These lives I’d communed with over Placinte & cried for in the darkness of the city touched me in a way that reading about another’s journey ever could have.
It was six months ago today that I stepped on a flight for a country that would leave echos in my soul. I really can’t believe that it’s been that long.
Since then I’ve witnessed a friend & her tribe spend time in Burundi visiting a village where they built a well. I was in Moldova with Idelette. She slept in the bed next to mine, and prayed over me when I needed it most. She has a passion for women all over the world. On her return trip from Burundi she stopped over in Moldova. The ache of missing that had waned re-surged. Seeing the friends I’d made. Seeing her be a part of what is going on currently with Beginning of Life caused a jealousy. Not a jealousy for her time in Moldova, but more a jealousy for the Good Thing that she’s doing.
Yesterday I wished that Shawn and I could have a lifestyle that enabled us to do more of these Good Things. To not be encumbered by work or finances. To be able to go to the least of these and have that communion with them that I’d experienced in Moldova. To be perfectly honest with you, this is what keeps me up at night. My heart’s passion is for the Orphan. I day dream about India & doing work with orphans there, about going back to Moldova. My heart longs to do the Good Thing for those who our world forgets about.
All these people, some whom I’ve met others I haven’t, are going. More than just for the sake of the Gospel, but because they take seriously the command to go, the command to look after the widow and the orphan. They’re telling the stories that even ten years ago we wouldn’t have been able to hear on such a global impact as we can today.
I long to do this Good Thing. To do the hard and dirty work that I feel has been lacking in Christian culture. I’m jealous for these opportunities and long for the day my feet and heart touch Indian soil and return to Moldova.
I’ve been asking a lot of why questions this week. I started a post about one thing that’s been on my heart to share with you and half way through it took a direction of question asking that really didn’t have that much relationship to my intended topic of my post. So that post sits in unfinished in my drafts because I don’t know where I’m supposed to go with it.
Maybe I’m not.
Maybe what I needed to say about the topic was said and it’s just not for public consumption now.
Or. Perhaps it isn’t finished and like other posts I’ve written time just needs to pass before it’s what you need to hear or what I even need to hear.
But this week has been about asking questions of why. Particularly why God allowed me to be broken to such a state that I would lose all trust, all faith, that I would shout and whisper four letter words at Him. Why would He let me go to that state if He knew I would at moments want nothing to do with Him.
I’ve been asking these questions over and over this week and to be honest I really feel no closer to an answer.
But something hit me about my brokenness last night.
I hold it.
I hold my brokenness in my hands.
The shards of glass. The splintered wood. The shattered china. All of it I’m holding as I stand here, and what I came to realize last night is that it’s an offering.
That’s right. An offering.
My brokenness is something I hand over. That I allow to serve as a giving of myself. Something that I’m continuously having to hand over. Because all these pieces that I’ve tried to glue back together….maybe they’re not meant to be together any longer.
Perhaps I’m becoming someone new. And this last year and a half that have been excruciating, have thus far been my birthing. Maybe it’s that just now that I’m finding new life as the rush of air plunges into my lungs.
I may never have all (or any) of the answers. To my last breath I may wonder why God allowed me to hate Him.
And to be perfectly honest, I think that’s okay. I don’t think I need all the answers. I need only to take all my brokenness and say, “here.” To say, “you allowed this. i don’t understand. i don’t get it. it hurt(s) like hell, but i believe this is where new life is beginning.”
So I’ll stand here. I’ll walk this road. I’ll hold this brokenness and lift it up as the offering that it is.
I want to drive into the sunset
and feel it’s dying warmth upon my face
I want to chase the sun
as it burns rouge the clouds upon the horizon
To watch the shifting colors
as darkness overtakes
To hold-fast the last of light
as the darkness overwhelms
I want to drive into the sunset
to chase the hope that lingers there
I want to race after the falling sun
and hold the fading rays
To remember the breath of flight
as day becomes night
To stand there one last time
and feel it’s warmth upon my face
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It feels like my life lately has been…
go to work
relax for a couple hours
go to bed
I feel so caught up in the monotony of it all. The sheer madness of the lack of mayhem.
I seem to have forgotten my ocean stained hair and skin.
I seem to have forgotten the salty air that coursed through my lungs. Igniting me. Setting my life back to life.
Has it only been 14 days since I laid on sand and listened to the roaring of the Pacific?
Have I already forgotten the miracle that I always experience when my toes dance in the ocean? The breaking and the repairing?
I too often forget the extraordinary in the ordinary. And if I do, I know you do as well.
We forget the miracles.
We pick up the weight of our lives too easily.
Burdens we aren’t mean to carry, but we feel the need to. Because we don’t want to burden others with our burdens. Because we think we’re strong enough to carry them…
…which frankly is a crock full of stupidity.
I need to remember the miracles. To close my eyes and remember with every effort and every cell what hope felt like. To remember the surprise of waves crashing against cliffs and against me. To close my eyes and remember the sounds, the smells, the sights of a force mightier than I am tumbling around me. I need to remember the birds in the air. The fall of the sun into the ocean.
I need to remember!
I need to remember!
I need to remember!
I need to remember!
I need to remember because I need this.
I need this moment of breaking and repairing.
That moment is a holding of hope.
And I need it.
On May 26th my husband and I celebrated 12 years of marriage. Marriage is nothing like I expected. It isn’t the romantic comedy or the Jane Austen fairy tale. In ways it’s so much more.
To help celebrate my friend Sarah’s 30th birthday this month I am joining her and 30 other writers sharing 30 things. Since I am about to celebrate my anniversary, I wanted to share 30 things about marriage. The beautiful and the unexpected.
continue reading here.
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.