I always vacillate between putting these precious thoughts of mine into the world or not, but after at-one-ment class tonight I feel these lessons so profoundly I can’t not write what I really feel. (Please forgive the run-ons, the typos, the imperfection - I don’t live for perfection, especially not in my blog posts…)
I spent 4 beautiful days in Seattle doing photoshoots this week and want to write specifically about my second night there. I climbed into bed, my mind wandering and not able to sleep. Out of nowhere I began to cry. I was simultaneously praying, thinking, wondering, and it came to me that I had never grieved my heartache associated with Seattle and I still harbored a lot of resentment against this city in which our lives changed so rapidly.
Each time I travel there, and the plane came down through the clouds, I get a pit in my stomach and remember how hard, how heavy, and how miserable it was. I cannot even think of enough words to describe how awful waking up every day, and barely surviving every night, was. My mind and body were in pain, the heartache was thick and completely debilitating. The weight of an entire ocean continuously washed over me while I wallowed in absolute darkness. After a few years of living there I no longer felt the holy spirit giving me guidance or comfort as he always had. My faith was absolutely depleted and I do not know why or how I crawled myself to church on Sundays. My brain left me miserable in every way.
All this to say, that moment the other night in bed shook me! As I cried and prayed I asked God, “Do I need to forgive a city and weather for ruining me, in a sense? Ruining my mind? My body? Is it completely abnormal that I harbor resentment towards a city, towards clouds, towards rain for robbing me of dreams never realized?!”
In that moment, and through tears, I grieved the anger I consistently expressed towards my family. I grieved heartache and loss of faith. I grieved feelings of insecurity for leaving my “real job” and becoming a stay at home momma. I grieved staying home nursing and bleeding from allllll the places while my friends sent their kids to preschool and went to lunch together. I grieved absence of light and love and happiness.
Is it weird to feel the need to forgive an inanimate object? But that is what happened - a physical weight left my insides, lifted off my chest, and I was finally able to let go of blaming this place that wreaked havoc on my being and entrenched me in misery. I even forgave myself for constant negative self talk during that time, that turned out to be nothing more than lies anyway.
The next two pieces I share are where Christ’s GRACE has brought me, and I cannot believe what I learned tonight in class.
With this weight lifted I drove the next morning to my sunrise shoot. Over the horizon beamed the national forest that brought a flood of happy memories: bathing in the freezing Sol Duc Hot Springs in the Olympic National Park, endless camping trips with friends while the kids ran fully clothed or stark naked through ~50 degree sound water, driving home from camping at midnight when a mouse clawed my foot on the gas pedal (when Kate saw it in the mouse trap later she said, “Dat mouse go nigh-nigh in his bed.” More memories of road trips out of the city where the girls would fall asleep and Tyler and I would talk for hours! Babies eating gobs of cookie dough and bread dough and every other kind of dough, hikes where my legs were jell-o and Tyler would have an ergo on the front and an ergo on the back, a serious Dave Ramsey session post undergrad to get out of debt, every black Friday hiking the woods to cut down a Christmas tree in the forest (last year, I can’t remember why, for some psycho reason we ended up pulling over the side of the road, cutting something down from the freeway exit, jumping back on and driving home. Hashtag all the hashtags. But it was the most beautiful tree anyone has ever seen…)
With the pain removed, I could see beauty! I remembered all the good that came from our time there.
Pain, heartbreak, seems to send us to an early grave. Pain can make us feel weak, defeated. It’s easy to think we are moving 100 steps backward, 4 steps forward , and then another 8,000 steps backward. Everything felt like that for me when we lived in Seattle, I felt LIKE CONSTANT FAILURE - in every department.
BUT THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED:
NONE OF IT WAS FAILURE. NONE OF IT. EVEN ME MONSTER-LIKE YELLING AND MAD AND CRYING AND FIGHTING AND FLEEING AND NEVER GETTING ENOUGH OF WHAT I “NEEDED.”
NONE OF WHO I WAS OR WHAT I DID WAS FAILURE.
IT WAS INTENSE STRETCHING AND ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT WAS GROWTH. ALL OF IT.
I can never say enough: NONE OF IT WAS FAILURE.
ALL OF IT WAS GROWTH.
I was talking with a dear friend one morning before a photoshoot and she said, “Your name came into my mind multiple times while you were here. I was praying for you. I even spoke with Bishop about you and he said, ‘Yes, I have been praying for her, too.’”
I fell into a puddle of tears because it became very clear that the reason I survived, the reason I survived, is because of those prayers.
I have asked myself for months how it is that I am here raising my girls in a new life we are building for ourselves, and now I know exactly how and why: people who felt a prompting said their prayers. And I will never be able to think about them without my heart bursting and tears flowing.
I’ve learned a bit about Job. He had this mindset of, “Whatever God wills…everything comes from God….whatever he wants I will do….I’m just a leaf in the wind going wherever the wind blows….”
We are not leaves on the wind - we have been given a brain and the gift to make choices and act for ourselves. Sometimes life gives us lemons. Everything isn’t “because God wills it.” Some things just happen. Like Seattle.
God kinda gets on Job for a few chapters saying, “Stop blaming me for everything! It’s just life! This is what has happened to you! WHAT are you going to do about it?! You are in the “boat” of life. Here is your oar - start rowing!”
MY HUGE CONNECTION AND AH-HA MOMENT TONIGHT WAS: I THOUGHT SEATTLE WAS FAILURE. I THOUGHT I WAS A FAILURE MOM, FAILURE WIFE, FAILURE PERSON. I THOUGHT I HAD NO PURPOSE AND THERE WAS NO HEALING. I THOUGHT SEATTLE WAS GOING TO KILL ME. I felt I was fighting in vain, that nothing was working, nothing was changing, that I was stuck there forever, in bleak misery. (And that’s not dramatic - I WAS LIVING THAT LIFE.)
IT WAS NOTHING OF THE SORT. IN FACT IT WAS THE OPPOSITE!!!!!!! A TERRIBLE THING WAS HAPPENING TO MY BODY, MAKING MY BRAIN THINK (AND WANT) VERY SAD THINGS. BUT IN REALITY
IT WAS A PERIOD OF INTENSE STRETCHING
ABSOLUTELY IMPERCEPTIBLE GROWTH.
IT ALL WAS GROWTH.
I AM DIFFERENT NOW.
We live in a mortal world where hard things happen. But God is not the puppeteer, us his puppets. But because a Father sent his son, and that Son willingly gave his life for us, when the hard, scary, bitter things happen, everything that was bitter can be made sweet, AND NOT JUST SWEET, SWEETER than anything we have ever tasted.
When Job’s mindset shifted God restored everything back to him only MULTIPLIED!!
I have experienced God’s outpouring of everything that is sweet.
And now that I feel healing, light, peace, the holy ghost, love, I look back and reminisce on the good, while appreciating the pain as the catalyst for the transformation it afforded me - more importantly, what it affords my children and others I interact with on a more intimate level because of my experience.
Since the other night in Seattle I can look back and see the beautiful life we had: beautiful with the pain, beautiful with the sorrow, beautiful with the suffering and I would never trade one second of it for an easier path. I am now in a position to wrap my arms around you and say, “I am sorry it hurts. I have felt weak, too, and it is so hard. But I’ll stay here with you until you recognize how strong you are, again.”
Forever and always: reach out if you are sad or if you have questions or need suggestions. I’m a confidential open book.
No one can go so low that they cannot feel light, or love, or happiness again. And when you come out the other side the brightness will be blinding.