It’s been almost six months since I’ve published anything in this space.
Like everyone else, 2020 kicked my butt in so many ways. From the fear caused by everything from the pandemic to the election—to the too-close-for-comfort wildfires that made the sky turn black at noon on labor day, to the deep loss caused by the deaths of two of my grandparents, to the more mundane losses of any kind of social life, and the fact that I haven’t been to church in person in almost a year.
It’s been a year of grief, a year of stripping away, a year in which I have questioned so much of my life and the way I choose to live it. It has also been a year for making art: for a poetry chapbook that is nearing completion and was almost entirely written during this difficult year (the subject matter: grief.), for silly short stories that will never see the light of day, and the first draft of my first ever novel written during November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
This is the year that I lived in a vacuum in so many ways; it was a year that showed me just how much I use the good opinions of others to prop up these under-inflated lungs. No wonder in this year when the main people who could appreciate me, don’t (my kids still don’t realize that I’m actually an amazing cook 😉 ), I had many days where I felt like I could hardly breathe. It’s like I’ve been on a ventilator of other people’s good opinions of me, and 2020 weaned me off of them. This year God began to teach me how to breathe on my own; with the breath that he breathes into my lungs. Breath that has allowed this year to be a year of incredible creativity; a year of pushing the boundaries of who I thought I was, and what I thought I was meant to do.
This year I began to dance in my kitchen.
This year I started writing fiction.
This year I realized that who others think I “should be”, and who God is calling me to be, very well may not match up. And that’s okay.
I’ve known for the past few years that if I was really going to be able to live into the calling that God has given me, I was going to need to put my people-pleasing to death. Easier said than done; in fact, I realize now that there was literally no way that that was going to happen without some sort of massive Divine Intervention. I have certainly not arrived, but I’m learning. God has had his work cut out for him, unwinding the years of false narratives with which I have surrounded basically every part of my life.
I constantly need to reevaluate my life. Am I only valuable when I am making things? When people notice and aknowledge my hard work or giftings? What if a season of illness or inability keeps me down for months at a time—am I still lovable then?
These seasons keep me honest about what is actually motivating me on a daily baisis. They keep me humble as I must constantly remember the truth: that my value cannot be added to or taken away from by anything I do—I am valuable soley because God values me.
In this prolonged season of grief, I have needed to step away from many of my usual modes of expression; the blog, my instagram, etc. The need came on suddenly and without preamble, but I could feel it in my bones: I needed to take time away from a writing that included external pressures to produce. (Even if those are mostly constructed by me.) There were weeks in a row where I hardly lifted a pen at all; but even when I was not able to write the stories down, God continued to remind me that these stories are still being written on my heart and in my mind.
Dear Reader, I have stories to tell you. So many stories. And someday, I’ll get to share them in ways that befit their beauty. And you have stories too. True narratives that are just waiting to be unraveled from the pain, chaos, and uncertainty that these strange days have held. I hope in the coming days, to be able to create more of a place for us to hear each other stories in ways we haven’t yet before—between a rock and a hard place, there is also The Rock and a Holy Place—a place where we are transformed.
The snow is falling softly outside my bedroom window, covering the thin and craggy branches of the 50 year old lilac like a layer of cream on my summertime farmer’s market strawberries, and I am dreaming of the Colorado peaches I hope the frost does not destroy this year. I am dreaming of finishing a revised draft of my manuscript. I am dreaming of letting go of expectations and of perfection. I am dreaming of embracing the beautiful moments of my right now life, even as I try and take the next steps to prepare for what’s ahead. I am dreaming that hope will become the predominant string being plucked in my heart, that the strings of anxiety and fear will be silenced—and eventually, torn out altogether.
I dream of making art that matters, and I dream of making art whether it matters to anyone else or not. I want to make beautiful things, and I want to encourage you to see the beauty in the midst of your own life’s difficult circumstances, that we may daily be awakened to the goodness of God, and the incredible power of his total redemption of every difficulty in our lives.
All that to say, some changes are coming to this space, in greater reflection of changes that have come to my own heart and mind this past year. I’m not really sure what it’s all going to look like yet, but I hope to continue showing up in this space as more fully myself, and that God will bless these loaves and fishes offered here and make them more than enough.
As I share the salt and sweat of my own wilderness places, I hope you will journey with me as we find that there is a river here… in fact it’s been here all along.
So that’s a little bit of where I’ve been: where have you been dear Reader? I’d really love to hear.