Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Day of Sweetness

Yesterday was one of those simple days of just sweetness.

Like waking up first thing in the morning, and turning on the lights to our not one, BUT TWO Christmas trees.

Sipping coffee and soaking in memories of dancing to Christmas music and decorating the tree with my husband.

A house lit by Christmas tree lights is just unbelievably magical and warm.

Bare feet on cool tiles that we laid ourselves (and just finished putting down the grout) adds something extra special.

Using the lights from our wedding backdrop for our first Christmas tree as a married couple, that was Greg’s idea from the beginning, is just too much loveliness for my little heart to even try to contain.

The unpainted bottoms of walls, not covered yet by baseboards, doesn’t even matter.

Nor does the exposed floor where the stairs aren’t yet finished.

Or the tools and boxes all throughout the house.

So many signs of things not finished… Sometimes it gets me, but right now the focus is elsewhere.

Like how my husband is so careful and meticulous in placing lights and ornaments on the tree. Or the way he holds my hand as we dance. And the feelings of hope and joy and redemption that this season brings. The feelings that are bigger than a moment or the things that are lacking.

At work, I chose a similar view.


A good friend decided to sit with me. It’s become sort of a Tuesday tradition. Emails and spreadsheets and schedules just seem better on couches next to a dear friend.

Talking to her for a bit was another bit of sweetness. Our friendship was unexpected and so new. But from day one we felt a depth that made it feel like we had known each other so much longer. And this morning I just thought about how thankful I was for her. And thankful that friendships can develop in that way. Rooted in something other than ourselves. Brought together by a bigger purpose. Not fully known by us, but still felt.

At one point I looked at her and told her I loved her. She smiled and told me she was just about to say the same thing. I asked her why she was the sweetest. And she responded that it wasn’t her. It was Jesus. And He just wanted me to feel encouraged and loved. There was no other way to explain it. And something in her words just pulled at my heart. This new depth of love that I’ve been experiencing in so many ways from so many different places, just blows me away. And it reminds me that fighting through the hard days really is worth it.

Later I somehow ended up telling her about the things I used to do. Like years ago. That there was a period of time in my life where I was doing so many things. I was constantly spending time with others. Constantly praying and listening and loving the people around me. And for whatever reason it came easy to me. I was constantly aware of the needs of the people around me. I could pray with power and effectiveness and I saw hearts be healed. And tears fall as hurts were released. I was allowed to walk beside people and offer the things I had always hoped for myself. And it was wonderful. And I was oh so busy. But it was so rewarding.

But now I’m in this season of resting. And it’s easier for me to count the things I’m not doing. I don’t pray for people on a regular basis. I don’t spend as much time with people. I can’t be in crowds. I can’t handle too much stress and emotions. There’s really a lot I can’t do. I feel deficient and weak and off track at times.

And in that moment I thought about what this season is for me. I’ve spent years putting myself aside. And putting others first, isn’t a bad thing. Helping people wasn’t a bad way to live life. But God in His perfect love wanted something else for me. My identity is not in the things I do. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to know I have worth. And my worth is not in the work of my hands. My worth is not in my job. My worth is not in the good that I’m doing. Isn’t it crazy that God could love me that much?! He could pull me out of all the work I was doing, showing people they are loved, to allow me to experience that for myself. To understand the perfect love that is for me.

And man is this a hard lesson to learn. I still don’t get it most of the time. I feel frustrated and alone. I look around and can think my current circumstances are a sign of getting everything wrong.

But today I felt the sweetness of this truth. And I felt a deep faith in me being stirred again. The faith that has always been there, but has felt hidden a lot of the time these last couple of years. I saw a glimpse of the foundation that is being built. And I felt the strength of it. Because it wasn’t built on me.

Later I was talking with another friend. And I was telling her how hard it was living this life. And how it feels like no one understands me. That it seems impossible for me to be doing well even though aspects of my life seem like they are declining. Just this week I had an anxiety freak out in the post office and had to leave without buying the rolls of stamps I needed. That’s not “normal”. It seems like things are getting worse at times.

And I feel this need to be transparent. To be real and share my struggles and weakness. Because I lived the life before pretending to be perfect. Only sharing the things that felt safe. Pretending to be open, but withholding so much. Having people look up to “me”, but knowing that’s not at all who I was. But even as I share at times I feel the stress of not being understood. That some get glimpses of my life, but others have no framework at all to understand.

And her words caught me off guard. “You don’t need anyone to understand.” I quickly disagreed with her. I said that when you have a relationship with someone it’s helpful to feel understood. I want to be seen rightly.

But now I feel the depth of what she was saying. I don’t NEED people to understand. Yes it feels nice, when someone “gets” you, but it’s not a fundamental need. And I spend so much time being frustrated with others and myself even, because I’m not “understood”. And as I think about it further I realize I don’t want people to misunderstand me and think something wrong. Like think I’m super messed up. Or that my life isn’t in a good and healthy spot.

Last night as I was sharing this with Greg it hit me in a new way. I care way too much about what people think. And then this idea of the freedom of not caring hit me hard. What if I could really get this? Like really not care what people think about me? And not always be comparing myself and measuring constantly and always falling short?

Things would be so different. And so much better. And I feel like I could love people more. Because there would be no expectations. They could come to me as they are and I could come as I am. And we could just be together. And talk and share. And not feel insecure or wrong or right.

My husband gets this so much more than I do. He’s reached this time in his life that he doesn’t care anymore. Apparently getting through your 30’s and into your 40’s will do that to you. And he encourages me that he often struggled with the same things. And he would worry and think about what people thought about him. And it kept him from doing so many things. He wouldn’t step out and take risks for the fear of failing.

And I think about the man he is today and that shocks me. The guy who would wear his bib overalls 95% of the time if he didn’t now work in a school. The man who has traveled the world and has a bazillion crazy and amazing stories. The man who has both went bungee jumping and skydiving. My husband who always chooses to stay behind the scenes and sacrifice everything to love others. The man with so much talent, that most would never even guess.

And I have hope. He says it wasn’t until his 30’s that he started his adventures. And that he began to be free from the worry and stress of caring about what people think of him. So at 26 years old, I’m already lightyears ahead of where he was in this area.

To top of the day, I met a friend for coffee (well hot tea for her). In honor of my new tradition, I arrived early and got a seat for myself. I found the perfect booth tucked in a corner next to a fireplace. And I sat and wrote the majority of this post before she arrived.

We talked about real life. As two newly married women, we had so much in common. And we laughed about all the ridiculousness of life. We laughed until our faces hurt and our hearts were full.

She thanked me for loving her. And listening to her. And being there as I was dating and she was dating and now we are both married. And we thought about the crazy idea that we were now “those women”. The adult ones who are wives with jobs and responsibilities. And we could be pregnant one day. And have babies. Like make little humans! And then have to keep them alive. What?! How in the world are we here?! And it’s wonderful and oh so challenging at times.

And we were able to encourage one another. To remember that we weren’t alone in this fight. And we talked about writing. And art. And creativity. And she told me to write. To keep writing. And I shared bits of dreams and hopes. And felt the thrill of talking of such things. Of being totally real and risking and being vulnerable. And it was just lovely. So lovely.

We talked about the future and our families that we were now building. We talked about the hope that marriage has brought to both of us. We talked about depression and anxiety and the seasons of life we were now in. And we smiled. We smiled a lot. Right along with the laughter.

We walked out into the cold and hugged and went our separate ways. And again the sweetness was just so overwhelmingly present.

When I got home Greg already had the Christmas trees on. Again, it’s those little gestures that take my breath away. He did it for me. Knowing that’s the first thing I do when I wake up and when I walk in the door when I get home.

And I had so much to tell him. So many moments of sweetness to share. I talked a bazillion miles an hour as we hugged for our daily 30-second-hug after work. Greg had to remind me we had the whole night to talk and I could slow down and take a break to go to the bathroom. (I’m known for my regular rendition of the little kid “I’ve got to pee” dance. Just like a kid I can get distracted in the excitement of life.)

So I talked as I cooked and Greg sat at the counter in our kitchen and listened. I’m oh so thankful for a husband who listens intently to what I have to say.

Greg prayed before dinner and thanked Jesus for giving me such a good day with so many gifts. And my heart warmed in knowing that Greg shares in my bad days, yes. But he also gets the good days. And that makes me happy.

A day of sweetness certainly makes it easier to keep going. It makes it easier to keep fighting. It reminds me that I have a good life. And that joy and struggle can go hand in hand. And that I am crazy… And that’s totally okay. I like it this way.

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