I must secretly long for life to be less dimensional than it really is because I’m almost always caught off guard by the paradoxes of life, the complexity, the way it doubles back on itself and gives you mourning and dancing in the very same moment. How beauty and struggle coexist, loss and gain, strength and vulnerability.
And, how quickly I forget that these seeming paradoxes are not, in fact, opposing forces, but instead companions that create richness and depth in life.
In reality, I long for the dimensionality of real living—the texture and vibrancy of raw life—but then when I get it in heaping doses, sometimes I get a tiny bit overwhelmed, maybe even a bit desperate, wishing for a dozen or so Diet Cokes, some Real Housewives, and any other kind of soul-anesthetic I can get my hands on.
Anyone else out there relate?
Some of you are rocking a new baby as you read this. Some of you are sitting in the middle of someplace you never thought you’d be. Some of you are aching and longing. Some of you are celebrating. Some of you are just trying to survive the mundane reality of your days in a way that is honoring to yourself and to God, as hard as that is.
I thought I’d share some of the paradoxes that I’ve experienced lately, some things I’ve learned or relearned about myself during this life transition.
#1 I am more resourceful than I realized AND I need more help than I realized
Another way of saying this might be, I am strong and I have limits. Along the way from San Diego to the Middle East, I have seen that I am more competent than I sometimes give myself credit for being. I’m not as helpless as I sometimes feel. When it was time to get my family from one side of the world to the other, I did it. And I’m actually kind of proud of it all. At the same time, it took an extraordinary amount of people helping in order to make this move happen. Very, very practical help as well as that intangible support you feel when you know there’s a tribe of people believing in you. The learning here is that competence/strength/resourcefulness are not the opposite of needing help. In fact, as I’m realizing, some of my more resourceful moments were acknowledging my limits and allowing the help in when it was offered.
#2 I love adventure AND I love home
This is such a tension for me. The adventure is full of risk, dis-ease, vulnerability, inefficiencies, and indirect routes. All of which are difficult on the nerves. And yet, what happens during the seasons of adventure–defined widely and broadly–are the kinds of things that can’t be duplicated smack in the middle of comfort. I’m crazy for comfort. That’s why I love home. I love the feeling of place. I love homemaking. Candles. Coffee. My turquoise desk. And yet, adventure often asks us to abandon place for a time. So the task, I’m beginning to believe, is to find that bit of home in every adventure and to find that bit of adventure in every home. And, mostly, to validate both placement and displacement in our becoming.
#3 I am a struggling mother AND I am a soulful mother
There have been some ugly mothering moments since arriving here. Both my children covered in ice cream sprawled out on the floor of the base food court, undone, 50 yards apart from each other. Me, towing purse, backpacks, empty stroller, beverage — trying to figure out which way to run first. Everyone passing by offering comments like, “Wow, it looks like you’ve really got your hands full.” Shut up. These are the moments when I believe anyone else, everyone else, would be doing this so much better than I’m able. The shame is practically pooling around me. And then I do what I’ve learned to do in these moments, which is (1) secure the escapees, (2) breathe deeply, and then (3) reach out. So I email someone who treats me with the kind of care I often wish I could summon toward myself, and I tell them how desperate it’s all looking. And then, like balm, I get a note back that reminds me of the important truth about myself. And I’m able to access a place deeper than the shame — a true place — and I’m able to connect with the part of myself that knows, that truly believes, I am a soulful mother. I am not a lost cause. And, then the most important part illuminates: just because I’m struggling doesn’t mean I’m a failure. In fact, the struggle might somehow create the greatest beauty of all. Dang, I hate that.
I hope something in this intersects with you today as we all try to remember that life is nuanced, a labyrinth much more than a direct line. Grace and peace to you as you wander through it all.