I have been turning over the topic of longing lately . . .
Longing in my journey through these early days, and now early years, of motherhood. Longing as a universal, and yet deeply vulnerable, human posture—no matter the life stage, the specifics.
I’ve been going back through all the writing I’ve done over the last three years, the writing I’ve created since becoming a mother. I see in this particular season of writing a quality similar to someone who is pounding a treadmill. Someone who needs to sweat out something.
Pages upon pages of a woman looking to make peace with all that has been gained and all that has been lost and, also, how the toxic voices have shown up in swarms to give their two cents. I read about a woman, myself, suffering from all kinds of angst, looking a little desperate at times.
I go back and read and, between the lines, I can hear my own longing . . .
A longing to be free from the toxic voices of shame.
A longing to be alive and awake instead of numb.
A longing to love, accept, and even companion myself—to be gentle and compassionate.
A longing to feel space again, to feel as though I’m not suffocating under the weight of this new role.
A longing to create.
A longing to be seen.
A longing for a child after loss.
A longing to believe that my faith does, somehow, make a difference in the angst.
A longing to chase beauty instead of glamour.
A longing to find my voice again, or to know it when I hear it.
A longing to grieve the fantasies I have been holding onto about what life would or wouldn’t look like and accept this moment, today.
A longing to breathe.
A longing for clarity in a complicated world—what to choose when the choices are endless.
A longing to be connected to people who understand all this and don’t just try to fix it or explain it away.
A longing for home—wherever/whatever that is anymore.
A longing for ease instead of angst.
A longing for nourishing worship, corporately and individually.
A longing for meaning and not just activity.
A longing for joy—pure joy.
This list could go on and on and on.
I have looked into the eyes of others who I know are feeling these same longings. And I have seen how rarely we know what to do with the intensity of such low aches. One of my therapies, of course, has been writing. Additionally, my band of gypsies back in San Diego. Slivers of great beauty amidst the barren desert-times here in Bahrain. The truths of 12-step . . .
What has become very clear to me—one of the few things that has become clear to me—is that our longing can either lead us to ruin or recovery. Life or death.
I have felt deadened in this past season. And I have also tasted the flavor of full life. Sometimes, strangely, the highest high is followed by the lowest low.
The deadening has often been the result of what I’m choosing to believe about myself, which directly impacts what I’m choosing to believe about God and others. The deadening has also come at the hands of believing life will always feel the way it feels in this exact moment. Instead of remembering that things tend to look better with a little space and rest.
The flavorful living has arrived through, usually, the smallest moments (when I have so often been looking for, waiting for, the huge parade): the right book at the right time, companionship, laughing, creative expression, a little rest, music, an email.
God inhabiting our longings with us, not swooping down and relieving us of them. Perhaps longing as the greatest gift God has given us, though entirely inconvenient to be so undone at times. This is what I’m thinking about right now . . . how I can manage the intensity of the longings and turn toward recovery instead of the wooing waters of ruin.
What have you been longing for?
How are you handling the longing?