live a better story

Reining in My Wild Heart

You know that feeling – like change is coming, but you don’t know what it is?

It’s like a humid summer day, and you see the gray and green storm clouds billowing on the horizon. You know a thunderstorm is coming. You can feel the electricity in the air, you can sense the barometer change. Part of you dreads the storm, but you love the thunder and lightning. It’s beautiful and exciting. You know it will bring relief from the humidity, but you hope it doesn’t turn into a severe storm, or worse – a tornado. And my heart is the tornado – wild and unpredictable.

peter_and_harrison_ellenshaw_a_very_blustery_day__97423__19383-1312387649-1280-1280That is how I’ve been feeling this past month. What started as “Tut-tut, looks like rain” is shaping up to be a blustery day, in the words of Winnie the Pooh.

And the difficult part is that my life has been in flux for over a year. First being open to the idea of change (for us, it was moving across the country), then waiting to see if the change would happen (the interview process), then the actual move, only to find out that more change might be coming (another interview process and more waiting).

But this change on the horizon, this beautiful and terrifying storm that is coming is in my heart. Before I attended the Storyline Conference (a conference where you create a life plan so that you can live a better story), I could sense a change in the barometer, I could feel the electricity in the air. Storyline served as a weather report. A confirmation that yes, a storm is coming. A storm that will shake my core and water the seeds that have been planted.

A storm that might even stir my life and heart like a wild tornado.

Regardless of what is happening in my life – where I am living, where I am working, how I am feeling emotionally – there are things I am needing to do. Things I NEED to do, to weather the storm. To water the seeds that have been planted so that they can grow and be harvested.

This morning I was reading Shauna Niequist’s devotional “Savor“, and she talked about having a theme for each season. My theme for this season is ‘work’. Ugh, I know. That sounds so boring, and, well, like work. But hear me out.

There is work I need to do to plant and nourish the seeds that need to grow in my life and in my heart.

To be honest, I have spent much of my life avoiding the hard work of my heart.

Yes, I am great with the passion – the big, emotional, explosive, exciting types of work. But I am weak in praxis – the daily practice and structure that provides a foundation for seeds to grow, and be nourished, and produce good fruit. In some ways, I feel like

I am being called to the mundane in order to build a foundation for the extraordinary.daisy-712892_1920

I am not sure what this will look like, but it’s becoming more clear each day. I believe it is going to involved these things: As you read this, if you know me, you may think,”Oh my gosh, she has gone off the deep edge!” I tend to agree. I have gone off the deep edge, but I think it’s something that has been needed for a long time

to rein in this wild heart.

  • Creating a spiritual framework to provide structure for growth – I want to learn about the church liturgical calendar, and start keeping a daily office. For those of you from the evangelical persuasion, this basically means having a daily quiet time and learning about times of the year like Advent and Lent, and how that can shape one’s spiritual discipline.
  • Starting and ending each day with mindful breathing and meditation on God’s word, to focus myself each day, and to manage anxiety and distractions. (This also means NOT starting and ending my day on my phone or computer, which has become a habit for me.)
  • Writing each day, first thing in the morning, while my mind is clear. Putting on instrumental music with no words, finding a peaceful and comfortable place, clear of distractions, and practicing the craft of writing every single day.
  • Searching for spiritual direction and mentorship: I am looking to learn from those who are further down the road than I am. I am considering a silence retreat at a monastery close by (I know, you are thinking NOW SHE HAS REALLY LOST IT. I agree, I can’t even be quiet during yoga class.) I am also looking at working with a spiritual director. To be honest, I heard this idea and it spoke to me, but I am not even sure exactly what that means. I am still doing research on what is a spiritual director and how does one find such a person? Maybe I will build a prayer labyrinth in my back yard. Send for the white coats now. 
  • Closing in my circle – focusing on the 12 or so most meaningful and significant relationships in my life, building deep connections with those in my closest circle, those who will gather around my death-bed (I’m not anticipating that this will happen anytime soon, but those relationships take time and great care).
  • Limiting my time on social media. Yes, I know that is how we all connect during these times, and I know that it can be a good thing. But I also know myself, and the difficulty I have with balance. So I am still contemplating what that will look like.

 

I am going to spend the next few weeks praying, writing, meditating, getting wise counsel. I am anticipating a start to a new season in my life, and I had thought January 1 would be an opportune time, but then I read that the church calendar begins at Advent, which this year is November 30. So I have some contemplating to do in the next few weeks. And for the first time in a long time, I am excited to do the hard work, to build the foundation, to plant the seeds that bring change.

To embrace the mundane in order to build the foundation for extraordinary.

To rein in this wild heart, so that I can love extravagantly and purposefully.

And as much as I’d like to edit the hell out of this essay, I just need to push publish and move on.

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When You’re Sick of Yourself

Day 2:For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts.  

For many people, times of growth and change arise from a difficult circumstance – trauma, loss of a loved one, a broken relationship such as a divorce, or a failure such as loss of a job. These circumstances can stop us in our tracks.

Other times, it sneaks up on us. Slowly, over time, discontent creeps in. It can look many different ways.

looking out window

Your dream job has become a chore.

Your relationship, which you were sure would bring you joy, feels empty.

You finally reached your goal, only to find it is not as fulfilling as you had hoped.

People you loved and trusted have disappointed you.

Life isn’t what you had imagined it would be.

You are not living the story you thought you would.

So where do we go from here? We can focus on outside circumstances, we can focus on other people and how they have failed us, but then what? If you’re really honest, focusing on circumstances and other people are the easy road. We have no control, it’s not our fault, and we have no responsibility. We can remain victims. We can be mere survivors. 

How do we become warriors? What would it look like if we were brave? What if we were honest? What if we looked beyond other people and beyond outside circumstances, and looked within?

When you are finally sick of yourself – that is the starting point of change.

When you are just not comfortable in your skin any longer, when your tools for dealing with life seem dull and useless . . . then YOU ARE READY TO GROW AND CHANGE. You are ready to live a better story.

Everyone, if you’re honest, comes to this point in their life – often more than once, as we grow through different stages. If we didn’t ever feel like this, we would never be motivated to mature, to expand our hearts, to develop as a full human. Think about where you were five years ago, or ten, or twenty. Are you the same person you were then? Do you have the same behaviors? The same beliefs? The same approach to life? We are not built to stay the same. To stay the same would mean we are stale, stagnant. And who wants to be stale, stagnant,and boring?

Existential crisis serves a valuable purpose – to motivate us to move beyond victims or mere survivors, and become strong warriors.

So can we stop pretending that everything is great all of the time? Can we admit that we’re all in this together, and that sometimes it is hard to just be a human on this planet? Can we stop putting on the 24 hour smile, the isn’t-my-life-perfect Facebook posts? I’m not saying that we should all walk around in black and profess our every misery. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to hear every detail of our lives the first time we meet them (unless your heart whispers, “They need to hear this”.)

What I am proposing is that we learn to be strong, brave warriors, marching side by side. We fight alongside one another, we march in the trenches when we need to, we build shelter from the storm, and when one is weary, we carry their gear for a while. It might get dirty, and it’s always going to be messy (because HUMANS) but it will be our beautiful, holy, mess.

Jacopo Bassano - The Good Samaritan - Google Art Project

Jacopo Bassano – The Good Samaritan – Google Art Project

Who’s with me? Let’s live a better story together.

Love, KM