Monthly Archives: November 2014
Tuesday morning I got the kids settled at Kindergarten and preschool and ran back home to get changed for a speaking engagement only to find a sprinkler had erupted and a geyser was gushing behind our garage.
It was literally the worst possible timing for something like this to happen, which is just so like life . . . the unfortunate event disrupts us and delays us and derails us when we are in our favorite shoes and we finally got our hair fixed.
I arrived at the event feeling a little teetery and tottery.
I started, as I often do when I speak, by saying that it’s always a minor miracle when we are able to wriggle free from our lives and carve out time together in a room to connect with each other and with God. Because, frankly, it IS a minor miracle. Or at least it was for me on Tuesday.
I said, as I often do, “Hey, here we are! Clothed and in our right minds (the latter is, of course, said in very loose terms). We did it. We got here. And that’s something.”
I told them about the geyser at my house that morning, and I said, “I don’t know what geyser is or was gushing at your house this morning, what you needed to overcome in order to be here, but I’m grateful that Resistance didn’t win the day. Disruptions didn’t prevail. And, let’s just take a moment and ask God if he wouldn’t mind terribly handling the geysers while we hang out and breathe and drink coffee together.”
So that’s what we did. We prayed for the geysers in our lives—the messes, mudslides, unresolved urgencies, panics—so that we could be in our own bodies, present, and accounted for. We asked God to take the yet-to-be-fixed off our hands for about 45 minutes or so.
And then we communed, and it was so lovely. Probably mostly for me.
Here’s what I know: A soul divided against itself cannot stand. (especially this time of year)
Step 1: Carve out a bit of time, even a tiny bit, and pour yourself some creamy coffee and breathe.
Step 2: Ask God to be in charge of the gushing geysers so you can let go a tad. Something like: “Hey God, the mess is all yours. You’re welcome. Amen.”
Step 3: Begin Again.
(Here’s what else I know: It’s always worth it.)
It’s easy to feel loved when you’re riding high, performing well, feeling on top of your game. It’s more difficult to access those feelings of worthiness and unconditional acceptance when things have gone awry and your humanity is poking out of the seams (not that I have any experience with this whatsoever).
Today I woke up feeling like the brain vultures were picking me apart. I hate how this comes out of nowhere. Last week the preschool was trying to get in touch with me and I missed their call(s). And the whole situation resolved, thanks to the rescue of a dear friend, but I felt embarrassed and low. And I’d let go of it, so I thought, until it was time to show my face at the preschool again this morning and my mind immediately started rehearsing all the reasons why I was unfit for duty.
I was reminded of the two party RSVPs that slipped through the cracks and the emails I’m behind on. I could feel the brain vultures circling, and then I spilled my coffee everywhere . . . because when the brain vultures are coming for you, you feel rattled, ya know?
As I was paper-toweling coffee from the counter to the trash can, I remembered all the things I’ve been writing about and speaking about . . . and I had to practice, yet again, what I’m preaching. Because, we really, truly don’t arrive. We just to return to the truth. I had to remember to treat myself with care and compassion. I had to remember to breathe. I had to remember to reach out and ask God to remind me that my lovability is not contingent on how well I execute the logistics of life. (Thank God).
So this morning I’m asking God to clear my mind and to remind me why I’m loved.
Because I’ve earned it? No.
Because I’m so dang competent? No.
Because of how good I am? No.
Because of my Instagram feed? No.
I am never more loved than in the moment of my failings, my faltering, my humanity. I’m never more loved than the moment when it all falls apart.
Here’s what’s crazy: So many of us secretly believe that we will punish ourselves into being better. But the truth is, LOVE is the only thing that will heal us. Learning to accept God’s love for us when we are at our lowest . . . that’s what clears the air.
As I mentioned, I’m writing a few posts about the holiday season — how we might enter into and emerge from this holiday season with breathing room. My first post was about honestly assessing your unique circumstances this holiday season and then letting that inform your unique capacity for events, details, etc. In other words, what is going on in your body, your life, and your family this year that was unique from last year? How might that need to affect your plans?
All of this is probably more for me than you guys, because you guys probably figured this all out a long time ago, but I have had times in my life when I’ve lived simultaneously frantic and exhausted and I just don’t want to go back there. Especially during a time of year when there’s the siren song of more and my heart and soul are becoming increasingly convinced that there isn’t enough “more” out there.
When I’m a frantic lunatic, I can’t think, I can’t delight, I can’t create from a true place. I can’t really, truly take in the moment. Do you know what I mean? I miss it. I just miss it.
And I don’t like that. I want to be inside my life, inhabiting my experiences, not restless and panicked and scampering around.
The root of the word courage is “cor,” which means heart. I love that.
I want to be people of the heart. Not people of the schedule. Or people of the rules. Or people of the efficient productivity. Or even people of extraordinary capacity. I want to be people of the heart.
To me, this means living connected to myself. Connected to my people, my experiences, my feelings, my longings, my needs. When I’m paying attention and attending to these things in myself, I’m so much better able to pay attention and attend to those things in others. Even though that sounds super counter-intuitive.
In order to live connected to our hearts, it takes courage. Courage to listen to that soul voice inside. Courage to listen to God’s invitations to us. Courage to reach out. Courage to be much stiller then we’d prefer or find comfortable. Courage to LET GO of the things we think are going to deliver our self-esteem, our worth, our happiness.
We have to be people who refuse to run from the interior of our lives.
All of this takes time and energy and a willingness to cull through our own stories and longings and triggers. Ugghhhhh.
I bring all this up because we will miss the moments in our own souls, the touches from God himself, the beautiful mess of loving those we love if we decidedly stay away from the “cor.” One of the quintessential ways we stay away from our “cor” is by staying busy.
I guess what I’m saying here is let’s agree we won’t let the temptation of details, plans, and events take us out of our hearts and into our heads. We won’t let ourselves miss it.
I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a holy moment, for a unique way that God might want to love me this holiday season. Because I know he is constantly wanting to show me his love. And I don’t want to miss it.
Thanks so much to all who participated in my Instagram Barnes & Noble giveaway! The winner of the $25 B&N gift card is @lauraashleyp. Please email me at leeana (at) leeanatankersley (dot) com with your info and we’ll get your gift card to you!!
Also, so many of you have been posting the most gorgeous pictures of Breathing Room in your neck of the woods. In NYC, on the Oregon coast, in JAPAN (!), in Alaska, in Colorado, in Texas . . . all these beautiful shots with stunning landscapes and iconic scenery. It’s kind of completely amazing.
My dear friend, Shawn Wisley, just posted the above shot of the book at the base of Half Dome in Yosemite and it just completely blew me away. I love how this image communicates breathing room and space and grace and God’s great creative love for us and our needing-him-and-each-other humanity . . . the picture is a beautiful metaphor for the message of the book. It makes me want to take a deep breath. Love that. Thank you, Shawn, and to all of you who have sent me/posted such gorgeous images, spontaneously. COULD NOT be more in love with these shots.
May your weekend be filled with breath, grace, space. Even if your circumstances don’t change one single bit, may God help you find your way to the spacious place, to his love.
OK, it’s time to start talking about how we’re going to go into the holidays with space instead of giving in to the inevitable squeeze, losing our breath, and winding up feeling strung out and bitter because the holidays happened at our own expense (not that I have any experience with this whatsoever).
Throughout the next two months, I’m going to be writing about how we can find some breathing room for the holidays. I’ll post, here and there, about how I’ve learned the hard way, how I’ve figured a very few things out, and what my mindset needs to be in order to emerge from the holidays FILLED instead of FLATTENED. (Again, not that I have any experience with this whatsoever).
NOW is the time to be thinking about your holiday commitments, rhythms, hopes, and dreams. Once it’s all in full swing, it’s kind of late to push the pause button. So NOW is the time to decide how you want to approach these next two months.
And here is the question we all need to consider:
WHAT IS THE REALITY OF MY SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES THIS YEAR?
Each year, I have a specific set of circumstances that is unique to my household. In 2006, Steve had been gone 10 months that year and had just returned right as we were headed into the holidays. In 2008, I had twins on December 23. In 2011 and 2012, we were in the Middle East for Christmas. In 2013, Steve had hip surgery in mid November and had to be completely non-weight bearing for 6 weeks.
Every single year, your household looks a tiny bit different. Maybe this year finances are tighter than usual. Maybe there’s a sick relative who needs extra care. Maybe this year someone lost their job. Or special family members can’t make the trip to your house like they normally do. Maybe this is your first Christmas in a new place or your last Christmas in a familiar place. Maybe your body hasn’t been cooperating like it has in years past and you don’t have the energy you normally do. Maybe this is your first Christmas without someone you deeply loved. Maybe your marriage is on the rocks. Or one of your kids is struggling.
Your household has some specific and unique circumstances this year. I would encourage you to take about 10 minutes and think through what your household is bringing into the holidays this year. Don’t assume that it’s business as usual. Don’t just push through this new normal. Consider this: If your circumstances are unique this year, then perhaps the ways you celebrate the holidays might need to be unique.
Certainly we want to honor our traditions, especially those that we agree mean so much to us. However, I think it would serve us to consider how our unique lives might need to inform our unique celebrations.
What do you need to let go of? What do you need to hold on to? (These two questions are almost always the path to breathing room, I’ve found.)
Last year, when Steve was on crutches and the couch for most of our holidays, it was clear that I would need to let go of a few things and/or ask for help if there were things that were important to me that I could not do on my own. I let go of Christmas lights on the outside of our house. But, I was not going to let go of having a live tree (mainly because we had spent the previous 2 years in the Middle East where live Christmas trees were not available).
Dear friends of ours were willing to go out and get a tree for us and put it up in our house. This felt like extravagant generosity . . . so much so that I felt like a burden. I didn’t want to need that kind of help. But, there I was. In need of that kind of help. So I received. And we had a gorgeous tree that the kids and I decorated while Steve supervised from the couch.
One of my very favorite things is a fire in our fireplace, and so I learned to split wood, and I hauled wood up from the woodpile so that I could make fires in our fireplace while Steve was out of commission. It was empowering, and it was a priority to me. But it meant that other things had to be sacrificed. We chose to stay close to home last year, for the most part, and not do as much out in the community as I might have preferred. We enjoyed that hard-won tree and the fires in the fireplace, and we didn’t go to every party and every event San Diego had to offer.
The two Christmases we were in the Middle East looked very different for us, obviously. No community events to attend. No Nutcracker. No Hallelujah Chorus. No parades, concerts, or streets full of lights. So, we were forced to let just about everything go. And, instead, we hosted a huge Christmas gathering at our house and asked everyone to bring a favorite holiday dish to share and we celebrated with a host of military friends and not much else. And it was more than enough. It was plenty.
So, you get the idea. Take a bit of time to consider what your unique capacity is this holiday season based on the unique circumstances of your family. And then begin to approach your plans, your commitments, and your expectations based on your reality.
What can you realistically ask of yourself? What can you realistically ask of your spouse? What can you realistically ask of your kids? What can you realistically ask of your extended family? What can you realistically ask of your friends?
Let’s commit to breathing room this year!!!
Please share your unique circumstances this holiday season and how that reality is affecting your unique capacity this year . . .