I took the last week of the year off from daily blogging for the first time in five years. After nearly six years of building HeartStories, I made the decision to do everything (within reason) that I could, to take a week off of work to be present with my family, both for them, and for myself. I had big plans for how I was going to invest that time. I even wrote my last blog before Christmas about how this moment will never come again– and it’s up to you to choose peace over the holidays. To choose to be in it. I thought I wrote that blog as an encouragement for you to be more present with the ones you love during the last week of the year
It turns out (per usual) I wrote that blog for both of us.
I also needed it as a reference point, a starting place, for the coming week. I knew that my week would still be fraught with choices and moments that I would need to choose to ignore the “work” that would inevitably be calling. But I couldn’t possibly anticipate just how much so. You see, I worked like a maniac right up until the school class parties. We passed out all our teacher gifts, then hopped in the car to start our holiday week off with lunch and a movie with my sister and her boys. During the movie, I did the unthinkable. . . I checked my text messages, which had been piling up due to my tunnel vision while completing all the tasks leading into that week.
I kid you not, one of those lingering texts that I thought was no big deal, was a giant deal.
Our workshop teacher for our January GNO was letting me know that she was suddenly unable to make it. Yes, the Girls Night Out that I’d been pushing so hard to be ready for, just two days after New Year’s Day, was instantly in disarray. It meant that what I planned as the beginning of a week of fully resting into the end of the year, was now presenting me with a completely unexpected challenge. I had never made a dream catcher. I had never done macrame or any sort of weaving.
It didn’t feel fair.
It felt like everything I’d worked so hard to put in place abruptly shattered into tiny pieces in my lap. I tried to ignore it. I tried to wish it away and pretend I didn’t see it, or that surely, I misread it. I tried to stay engaged in the movie, but it was hard. That afternoon was a beckoning, an invitation for me to live the very thing I’d written about that morning.
To be in the midst of struggle and be calm in my heart.
Before bed that night, I send out the SOS to my people. Of course, my dear friend Holly, who’s been doing macrame for YEARS, raised her hand with a “Girl, we’ve got this!” confidence that instantly set my heart, somewhat at ease. There was still SO much to get done on such a tiny timeline, but I knew in my heart, she was right.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I had to literally stop, to intentionally breathe over the holidays.
I wanted with my whole heart, to be fully present with my family, but life dealt me different cards than the ones I had envisioned. I have a job to do to serve the women of the HeartStories community and while it is an enormous honor and gift, it still requires huge amounts of effort to pull it all together, even with normal lead time.
This felt pretty impossible.
But if I believed the words I wrote that Friday morning before Christmas, “The experiences that push you to the edge of what you know, are the very same experiences that lead you to become who you’re meant to be, if you pause long enough to pay attention.” . . . and I did, then this situation was an invitation.
It was an invitation to a new becoming.
Over the holidays that year, I became the girl who could source and create a modern woven wall-hanging with the support of an incredible friend. It certainly wasn’t a coincidence that one of the books I asked for as a Christmas gift was “It’s not supposed to be this way” ~ a book about finding unexpected strength when disappointments leave you shattered, by Lysa Terkeurst.
The irony of that title sitting under the tree wasn’t lost on me.
The morning after Christmas, while the boys were excitedly exploring their gifts, I resisted the urge to run to my office to “get a few things done”. I made myself a cup of tea, sat down in a comfy chair in the living room with the family, and cracked open Lysa’s book. My current work situation was not nearly as painful as what she was/is going through, but the seemingly overwhelming amount of unexpected work I had to do in a tiny amount of time was seriously stressing me out on the inside.
Her words were a balm to my soul.
They were empathetic to my disappointment. They were the encouragement that this, this messy middle ground, IS the continual invitation to becoming.
I don’t know what you went through this past year, or even just this holiday season, but I’m quite sure you were also faced with unexpected circumstances. Circumstances that left you disappointed. Circumstances, beyond your control, that left your life looking far different from what you thought it would. I can promise you this, the things that did not turn out the way you hoped, dreamed, or planned are the invitation to who you are becoming this new year.
They are the invitation to learn how to do life well, even in the middle of disappointments.
That sunshiny, grassy field off in the distance, just around the bend, is a mirage. Real-life is here, in the mess, in the middle.
This New Year is an invitation to your becoming.
Release your death grip on your expectations for the outcome and live right here, in the middle of the unexpected.
Trust that right now, in the middle of these unexpected circumstances, is a beautiful invitation to who you are becoming.
It is hard, it isn’t what you thought it would be, AND it is worth pushing through.
We need you.
to more love,