Here’s the thing. At the end of every August for the past few years I have found myself scrolling through old glossy blog posts of yester-septembers . . . not longingly with the salty self-indulgence of Nostalgia, but just to remember the goodness of God and the little life aesthetics that comforted me when I was several hundred days younger.
This is the time of year for me when I start to get soul-cozy and quiet. Learning again how to live through a sobering East-Coast autumn after a few years of brisking through the Bay. This is my season. It’s the border-walking best time of the year . . . on the back end and edge of the lingering summer with eight whole months of lived through life to introspect, and the sweet anticipation of a birthday and The Holidays.
I recently discovered – as in the Lord put His finger on – some tendencies I have that are too close to narcissism for my comfort. I want to be like Jesus and there is no pride to be found in Him at all. Only holy humility and the autonomous, self-evident grandeur of a Deity who has nothing (left) to prove. I say ‘left’ in parenthesis because of the glorious mystery of the Gospel in which God chose to prove His love for us by sending Jesus who willingly agreed and proved it all.
ALL THAT TO SAY: I thought about writing one of my best friends a letter instead of drifting back to the blogosphere (which I will probably still do) but I also couldn’t decide if it was inherently selfish to dump on her all the many things I’ve been thinking . . . and also I just really enjoy my fourth quarter soul ebenezers, and being able to look them up from any time any place and just remember.
I will say I have learned what to give more time to before I decide the lose ends are tied enough for telling. So some of the juicy stuff (as my baby brother would say) will stay tucked away in analog journals as I ramble on with a who-knows-how-long post that kind of reminds me of the era of Aura Joon . . . did any of you read her blog? It was such a sweet and feminine comfort to me as a college student. She was one of the blog-rule breakers who would post sporadically with what used to seem like a thousand words, and I savored them.
So while I am rambling, I will also say that I think it has been good for me to learn to not be so stuck on flawlessness and perfection. I have learned this year that I classify as an Enneagram One and it has been so significantly liberating. So now I get to be the kind of unencumbered person who randomly posts to her allegedly retired smörgåsblog with crazy ads in the margin for police reports and sock indentations on hairy ankles. Ha.
I guess we can pretend you’re in the passenger’s seat of my Subaru . . . listening to me rant through pine-lined backroads beginning to be speckled with fallen leaves and golden-hour light.
. . . I guess I’ll start with how we should all be saying the same thing. And by ‘we’ I mean women who love Jesus and write. It shouldn’t make me angsty or envious or irritable to see the same thing spoken over and over. It shouldn’t make me feel like my voice is overridden or like I don’t have a place where my words belong in this world. My art sensei (Blaine Hogan) once called me out on this very thing in response to an email I sent asking him, am I too particular in not wanting to just be another writer with an apple and an internet connection? Ha. I actually still have the email saved and this is what he told me:
>> Probably for it is the world we live in. That is our curse and our amazing blessing. This is the world we get to be a part of. Perhaps you need to see the fact that you are a writer and that you have an internet connection as a gift. There are plenty of writers in this world who do not have that privilege.
That was almost seven years ago and still convicting. So to myself again, and anyone who needs to hear it – those of us who love Jesus and are committed to discovering our place in the plan of God should all be saying the same thing. What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to say it somebody else’s way or for our own ambition. There are ears that are tuned to the frequency of your voice and God has graciously arranged and orchestrated your tenor to be the one that will captivate their attention towards His glory. Love should always be our motive. Let all that we do be done in love.
. . . I think my biggest news – the most massive shift of tectonic soul plates – is that I have finally decided to submit to being single. It has come with a deep and cellular rest. If you had asked me even at the start of this past summer, I would have said I wasn’t hasty in my heart; but I didn’t know how wound up I was about it until now that I have finally let it go. ‘It’ being all the anxious energy related to me getting and being married at all. Like, ever.
I remember reading Corrie Ten Boom my senior year of college and being totally and deeply freaked out when she said that she knew when the one guy she loved married someone else that she was never going to get married and she cried it out with God and moved on with her life. Like, I felt that and it yikesed me. Because marriage was so important. And it is important, but it’s not everything.
Earth is just a little while, anyway.
Will I probably get married? I believe so. When? Not pressed about. I am honestly hoping for another 4-7 years of sweet and fruitful singleness. There are so many ways in which I feel like I need to get my life together. Ha. I perceive that the woman I am right now is not the woman I will be when I get married, but not necessarily because anything is wrong. I’m just not ready yet. I’m not sure directionally how I will change, but I am stoked to watch it all unfold . . . for the sake of the masterpiece my Creator is masterfully creating, not to prove anything about my beauty, my desirability, my worth, or my faith. I am already greatly loved and already lovely. I don’t have anything to prove.
There are definitely moments that feel lonely, but I am coming to the conclusion that those moments have as much to do with living on a curse-infested planet as they do with being single, specifically, or the awkward moments that can come from being socially un-paired.
Choosing to be comforted by and satisfied with the Love of God-who-is Love is a lifestyle, not a season.
There is so much rest that has washed over me as I have recently delighted in my singleness. It truly is a gift. And I say that not “on the other side” of things, but in the indefinite middle . . . not like when you scroll to the bottom of an article on singleness and the author lives in an aesthetic suburban neighborhood with their spouse and three evenly spaced in age children. Ha.
I say it living in a dishwasher-less apartment 18-25 miles away from everything I’m involved in and not knowing how long this gift of singleness will ‘last’ or even for sure if it will change in the marriage direction, but genuinely basking . . . looking forward to the goodness I am indefinitely sure of either way.
. . . And with this deep and cellular rest comes recovery. There have been some lingering symptoms and things and manifestations of imbalance in my body that I am convinced don’t belong and can be entirely done away with and healed. And I believe that the remedy of this dis-ease is rest. From the inside out rest and dealing with some of the emotional and psychological traumas I wouldn’t have described as such before I realized that I should.
In contrast to college (where I spent all four years without working on assignments on Sunday) maintaining a sabbath in the rhythm of a work week has been challenging. I have sometimes been regularly scheduled to work on weekends and have other times felt I had no other options than to spend half my weekend running errands and the other half serving in church (plants).
What I have learned is that seeking first the kingdom is not the same as hustling non stop and trying to make sure you still get to do all the other things too. The sacrifice comes in not being able to do certain other things too because the time left after serving is for sabbath. And I’m not just referring to serving in church or being on a ministry team. I mean working at the job God told you not to leave and making your art in the unglamorous margins and making time for people instead of thinking of them as being in your way. I mean trusting Him. And being led by the Holy Spirit instead of trying so hard to be responsible . . .
That is the purpose of the sabbath at all – it’s a discipline of trusting God to provide and make a way; trusting Him to multiple our time by blessing our efforts and increasing our energy.
So sabbath for me has started as a discipline to take one day of the week where I don’t try to fix, solve, or accomplish anything . . . to rest from all the mental planning and list-making and errand running . . . to unlearn hyper-vigilance and prioritize play. Rest and recreation are requiring me to invest in my hobbies and give myself permission to play while my work is undone . . . Because for Ones, there is always work undone.
. . . In all of this changing of the past few years, God has spoken to me that He needs me to be an artist, still. Even as I learn to walk by faith as one who is in Jesus always caused to triumph, and even as I renew my mind towards pure and lovely things.
Art doesn’t have to be dark or disturbing to be effective, and authenticity doesn’t have to be overly exposed to be brilliant.
A phrase I have been mulling over to muse is that a true optimist is aware of what could possibly go wrong. To be aware of current and unforeseen obstacles and evil, and yet believe that it can all be bested is the simplicity of the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.
The truth is that the cosmic War has already been won. In Jesus we get to sing triumph while using our shields and wielding our swords and fighting our way out of captivity. The way out is already established, but there’s a liar at the door who lives for illusions.
Lately I have been super stoked at just how much of a Story there is to tell. I will never run out of material however much art I get to make and that’s super exciting.
. . . Happy end of August to whomever is out there and to my future thirty something self. Stay tuned for at least a part two.
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