March 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’m a muller, an over-thinker, you might say. I tend to latch onto thoughts and chew on them well past the point of helpfulness. Contemplation and introspection can do worlds of good, but one can also get stuck in the mire of one’s worries and what ifs if there’s no release, no eventual moving-on. I’ve been caught here lately, wondering where I’ll live when my lease is up, lamenting why it’s so hard to find a roommate/nice guy to take me out to dinner, why my phone doesn’t ring when I need a friend, and why things cost money I don’t have (The nerve!). Sometimes the only cure for being stuck in my head is to move my body out. Yesterday was a misty, overcast day that brought a chill with it: not exactly uplifting weather for my melancholy mood. But today…the sun came out, and the chill breeze ruffled the beautiful budding tree branches and flower petals. I walked along the paths at the botanical gardens not far from my house and took my time to enjoy the signs of life returning around me. It is true that everything looks a better in the light, the light of day and by God’s spiritual light. My bouts of loneliness tend to appear at night, when it’s black out and feels bleak within. My thoughts can sometimes follow the track of the sun across the sky, darkening as the light fades. I know this, and yet I’m not always on my guard against it.
As that Mumford and Sons song eloquently puts it: “Hold on to what you believe in the light/When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight.” In the dark cloud of my worries, I forget God’s promises to his children. In my loneliness, I fixate on what I don’t have or what I think I need. But, God is gracious to pull me back, to reveal to me my lack of a thankful heart and to love me still. It’s difficult some days to cease my navel-gazing, but I do seek to fix my eyes on Jesus, to remember all he has provided, and to trust that his plan for my future is good. Walking among his beautiful creation is one way to reorient my heart and mind.
February 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
Every year, I get excited when my birthday comes around. Those who know me know this is true. I credit my mom for instilling in me a love of the auspicious day. She always made it special, whether sneaking in my room while I slept to festoon it with pink and purple streamers or hiding notes and, one year, a necklace in my breakfast napkin. She sends flowers, makes the current variation on my favorite yellow cake with chocolate icing, picks out the most poignant cards, and showers me with her love. Though I may not annoy people with a 10-day email countdown to January 18th any more, I do still enjoy my birthday month. This year felt especially sweet. Texts and calls and cards from friends flooded the day. My office friends and I shared a delicious lunch together to mark mine and a coworker’s birthday, too. I spent the long MLK weekend at my parents’, working on a shelf project I’d requested from my dad and doing a little bit of shopping with mom (boots! a new pair of jeans!). As luck would also have it, my good friend Susan was in town on the holiday, and we got to share in a 3-hour long meal and some welcome catching up. Because my brother took himself off to Utah to ski on my actual birthday, that just meant that another birthday celebration awaited. Last weekend, he and my parents came to visit, and we spent the whole day together: trying out a new fried chicken spot, driving up to a local overlook where I knew an ice cream sandwich purveyor would be, and generally rambling around downtown Birmingham and Railroad Park before it was time to eat again. The day was beautifully blue and sunny, unseasonably warm.
I felt so blessed by their visit, and I mean that in the least hashtag-fake way. I have been blessed to have such family and such support from them. We enjoy being together, and I thank God for the gift that is. We’ve been through much together, as all families have, and I’m sure life will continue to bring challenges our way. But, by God’s grace, we are close now, both geographically and relationally. Lately, when I’ve felt alone in the world, I am reminded that I’m not. Times like birthdays are good reminders to carry with me.
January 3, 2016 § Leave a comment
“Another year over
and a new one just begun”
I did have fun this Christmas and New Years. All the year’s energy seems to hurtle towards the last two weeks on the calendar and makes them overflow with anticipation or angst. The day-to-day work starts to wear on you so you welcome the break. The days off are lovely and free and full of eating (at least in my parents’ house). There’s magic even in the unseasonably warm air we experienced in Alabama this year. Anna’s family shared their tamales with me the week before Christmas. I got to know Amy from my church better over tacos during a leisurely Monday lunch. My oldest friend Joy had her first baby, and I am raring to visit and bask in the glow of the miracle with her. I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas with my family, watching movies and exchanging a few gifts and sharing meals. It reminds me of the time before Josh and I grew up and moved away. I know I can’t return to those years, and don’t literally want to, but it’s the closeness and togetherness that I miss. I’m thankful that we can still share it, even if in smaller spurts. I am eternally thankful to have such a home life. It is a gift.
The month of December has also felt like an upending, mainly due to a roommate change. It seemed like my outgoing roommate and incoming new one were going to be living on top of each other there for a minute, but outgoing roommate’s much delayed apartment was ready just in time last week for new roommate to move in Saturday. With all that squared away, I was able to go off to Nashville and enjoy extended time at the start of this new year with Natalie and Adrian, and Jared, Alison, and toddler Hunter. His almost-two-year-old limitless energy made everything from air mattresses to jewelry store shelves an adventure. We all ate well, relaxed, and laughed heartily.
I feel filled up by all the special times shared with my family and friends. I’m optimistic that this new living situation will be a good one as we learn how to share our space. I want my home to continue to be a haven. I’m hopeful that my job will remain as I also strive to look for another one that doesn’t have to renew itself every 4 months. At the same time, I am struggling with a sadness and resignation that has dogged me for months now. I admitted it to my church small group a few weeks ago, which has helped lift the gloom a bit. I know part of it is my response to change, or change I don’t like. Change does unsettle me. I know it does most people. As I type, I’m reminded that God doesn’t change like shifting shadows, as it says in James. I find comfort in this truth.
And yet my heart aches for something I’ve never known. When my dear friend Alison asked us all this weekend about what we were looking forward to in 2016, it was the ever-present wish I kept to myself, the hope that I don’t often name. I know the love and acceptance of my mother and father and brother and what life-giving loves they are! I am grateful to love and be loved by friends who’ve seen my faults and embraced me. I don’t know what it’s like to be loved by a lover. It is a wondering I carry with me, and most days, it’s a silent partner. Lately, my heart has not been quite so content with its romantically-solo state. In my plenty, there is still a lack. And I’m feeling it at the start of this new year. Being still-single at 33 is not something I prepared myself for. I assumed the time would come, a man would ask, I would say yes, and that would be that. Living life with this goal unattained has been challenging and illuminating and frustrating. It’s been fun and adventurous and fantastic too, because that’s just how I roll. I don’t know when or if I’ll meet someone special (no pressure, 2016), and that is hard for me. Yet my desire to know the contentment that the apostle Paul wrote about in his letters is strong, and, I pray, stronger than my current discontent.