Weekend Letter, Vol. 1 (on learning to dance through dead-end doorways)

 

Dear friends,

The calendar and the baked-in heat in the air tell me that we’re drawing near to summer’s end.

I don’t like to think about it. I prefer the deep heat, everything green, the sky holding its light until bedtime.

With all the wonderful things fall brings, it also means that winter is on the way with its short days, early darkness, cold temperatures, and the end of wildflowers.

But it’s the rhythm of the year. It’s the balance of earth — every season needed, turns of weather with purpose.

Living with balance, keeping step with a rhythm greater than my own…it’s a life lesson I am always in the process of learning.

*****

Back in February of 2017, I was so excited to let all of you know that I had signed a contract with an independent press and was on the journey to have a book published. It seemed like the dream I’d carried in my heart since the second grade was coming true and I was so grateful.

But about six months later, that independent press closed its doors. This meant, of course, that the work-in-progress on that particular book came to an abrupt end.

I had a lot of emotions that came along with this unexpected turn. I was sad, disappointed, confused. I knew it wasn’t anything I’d done wrong, but I was even embarrassed. It felt like I’d gotten my hopes up, gotten everyone excited along with me, and had nothing to show for it. It felt like a failure.

BUT. Here’s the thing. I’d also spent 2017 with the word sustain…it was the word so strong in my heart at the beginning of the year that I’d been leaning into it, understanding day-by-day dependence on God. I’d been pondering, for months, what His promise to provide for me really meant.

So in one hand, I held disappointment of a dead-end dream. In the other hand, I held the promise of God’s faithfulness.

And, beneath my feet, was this word sustain…the assurance that I had a Father who was there to give support, to supply, to nourish, to keep up, to support. In other words, my hands were full of what seemed like conflicting realities but I was still being held by a God who hadn’t changed. And He met me there, with all of my not-pretty feelings and tears and frustrated moments. He walked through every bit of it with me.

*****

I tried to keep working on that book. I kept surrendering all of those scattered emotions and tried to put my focus on the words in front of me and the purpose I’d prayed they would one day serve. But as hard as I tried, I was creating out of disappointment when I wanted to create out of hope. So I knew I had to lay that book aside.

I sat in the rubble of the future I’d been so sure of and wondered what was next. The truth was that I had no idea. And it was scary. What I’d wanted for so long had been in my grasp and then…just like that…it was gone.

*****

It took a while for the dust to settle. And this isn’t one of those stories that you hear about with a resolved ending…I’m not writing this with a new book contract in the works.

What I DO have is the assurance, for various reasons, that the leadership of that particular company wasn’t the right fit for my work. It was a door shut for my good and I can say that now with full confidence.

And even better? I was given the unexpected gift of a writing family. I wasn’t the only writer under contract with that company…the press was dissolved, but seven of us unified into a community. I have friends that understand the journey, offer support along the way, and bring joy into my life on a regular basis.

 *****

As for the writing? I didn’t know what to do next. I let go of that particular version of my dream. I had no plan, for the first time in a long time. And it felt like exactly the place I needed to be, as uncomfortable as it was.

I needed, again, to surrender control.

And surrendering control is scary.  It can feel like anxiety and it can feel like only being able to move one small lit-up step at a time.

But it can also feel like a fresh wind blowing through.

It can feel like staying present in the moment and having that moment be enough.

It can be letting go of self-imposed expectation and feeling the weight of all that yearning fall off the heart.

It can feel like an open path for something new.

It can feel like wild hope.  It can feel like freedom. 

*****

I still don’t have answers. I don’t have a plan.

And that’s okay. Sometimes we need to stay quiet to hear His voice. Sometimes we have to release our dreams to trust His.

Following is not an exact science. It requires giving up  perfectionism…trusting that His love is big enough to catch us even when we mess up, even if we fall.

It’s believing that we are enough, just us – as He made us, in our simple being – for Him to take delight in us without our performance, without our achievements, without what we can do.  It’s giving up the deeply planted idea that success only looks a certain way.

It’s giving up the idea of our strength but still knowing we are strong. It’s understanding  the source of our strength.

It’s giving up obsession with end results and finding joy in the process.

It’s coming back to a first love that reminds me that no matter what else falls away, He remains.  

*****

So that’s where I am….I’m writing out of delight, stringing poems together, taking pictures that catch my eye on Instagram. I’m dancing more. I’m doing my best to follow the wind of the Spirit, reading widely, listening more than I speak, looking for wonder, letting my roots sink deeper and deeper into Love.

I’m trusting the seasons as they come…they all have beauty. They all have something I need. I’m leaning into that greater rhythm..letting go of the lead…believing that I can’t take a step without His love going before me…putting my heart in the hands of that wild hope.

And I feel free. 

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”-Matt.11:28, MSG

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