The idea of perfection had become more important than honesty. You may feel broken. You may feel imperfect. You may feel like this chapter of your story is not one worth remembering. But it is. The most beautiful chapter of life is the one that does not go unnoticed.What do you notice? For me, as I've been thinking about what this photographer might see in my day, might capture in me, so often it's not beautiful little moments of care and connection. No, the raw that she might see would be me: fists clenched feeling the need to have my way, to have the kids be quiet so I could get time just to myself. That I deserved it. That I pour myself out again and again for a ragamuffin band of little people that have no clue. Sacrifice never feels like enough. It always feels like too much. When we bear it ourselves, when we look with us alone, it is too much. And as a friend said to me, we keep wishing those moments away. I think when it comes down to it, those moments that someone else might capture -- all the daily hard -- are moments when I have to prove something. Have to show myself and those around me what I'm made of, because if I don't -- if I actually "take up my cross and die" well, then, what? Then I'll disappear. Sometimes staying at home with children feels like disappearing. Disappearing from a workplace where you're validated and critiqued or even have a quiet space to work out ideas. At home, I just have laundry, and a To Do list and my inner perfectionist critiquing it all. Who tells me all the ways I don't measure up to perfection. It's too much. The hamster wheel. The mama guilt. The fear and worry that accompanies the dailyness because I didn't measure up -- or was selfish, or needed time away, or needed something from someone, anyone. Anyone to hear and say "Yes, I see you." But the raw feels like failure. The raw feels like disappearing. It feels unproductive. But it is only in giving up that we can be made to be filled up and full again. Overflowing with a strength of character that says, "yes", "tell me more", that says, "I will be present in the now. Even in the hurt. Even in my anger. Even in my frustration, I will be present." And it makes promises: I won't steamroller you because I'm angry. I won't hurt you because I'm wrestling with God about how my needs are met. No, I lay down, hour by hour, arms outstretched and say "yes". It means I say I'm sorry a whole bunch because most of the time I walk around with my teeth clenched; it means I give space and time for the emotions to firm up so they can be said. This "letting go" is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not even the "letting go" of my growing-up children that's the challenge -- it's the day-in and day-out challenge of letting go of the expectations and thoughts I had of how great I'd be or how amazing life would be now -- married with children, owning a house, career path and passions and friends. Because this letting go, is a letting go that strikes at the root of who I am. But I'm confident, deep in my bones and even as I falter, that something lovely will rise from the ashes. That by being raw and truthful and seeking beauty amongst the ruins, that hope and life and fullness and joy will follow. For that's what's promised. So I'm going to sink my nails into that promise and cling to it with all I've got.
***So, what is your story? What dreams are you dreaming? What are you hoping for this Advent season? What's the big thing that you're afraid to say because once it has a name, you have to acknowledge it? I've already spilled the beans over here, what about you?