On being where you are.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Spring won't officially start for five days, but it feels as though it is already here. Yesterday was so breathtaking that I didn't want to stay inside, and for a bookish introvert who prefers a sofa over a sidewalk, that is saying something. I'm starting to sense the changes, the metamorphosis taking place.

I was thinking about it as I drove to lunch yesterday: it is difficult for me to start something in the middle of winter. I thought back to January and my word for the year, the goals and resolutions I had made for 2015. We've had a lot of snow and ice and gray, and seasonal affective disorder is a real thing that makes it hard to gain any traction. I've thought a lot about blooming, but I have lacked the motivation.

Truthfully, the past few months of my life have been really lonely. I have struggled to know people and to let myself be known. It has not been pretty, or at least, I've never thought it to be. I wrestle and thrash and naively try to avoid the things that hurt, trying to escape those feelings that I would rather not experience.

The other day, I was reading from one of my favorite books and came across this passage:

"When I get lonely these days, I just think, so be lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience."

There I was, trying to run away from the feeling, and when I wasn't running away, I was trying to analyze it, wondering if loneliness here was just God's way of preparing me to be called away, or if my desires to be known and loved were really only the bricks and mortar of this tower I'm building to make my own name great.

The enemy never stops. He finds the most remote and forgotten back doors to enter through. If the feeling itself is not painful enough, he will fill its nooks and crannies with doubt, making you wonder if you're really in sin.

Who really wants to sit with feelings like loneliness?

I'm learning, slowly but surely, that blooming begins by simply being where you are. Blooming begins with the hard work of putting down roots in places that seem dark. Blooming requires a shift of perspective. I need to stop seeing these seasons of my life as emergencies that I have to rush to fix and start seeing them as opportunities to find and glorify God in my life.

I don't have to strive to fix myself, to fill up the holes in my soul and heal the hurt in my heart. I don't have to analyze and figure it out, and nothing I avoid is ever truly resolved. I just have to be willing to be where I am.

Because at the end of the day, seasons are just seasons. They aren't meant to last forever.

I am always in awe of the rhythm of the world. The birds are never worried about what they will eat, the flowers don't fret about what they will wear, and the person who trusts in the Lord -- who searches for and finds His gracious hand in every situation -- is like a tree planted by the water.

I want to be here now, even if here is feeling a little under the weather.

I know the sun will be back.

On Grieving and New Chapters.

Dearest Hannah, You have graduated from college, and are now in the in between. And let's be honest -- while you have accomplished much, the in between hurts like hell. It feels like all your limbs are being pulled in opposite directions, and you are young and the world is so very big.

601946_10151662461155821_48277426_n

The idea of the quarter-life crisis would never have caught on without people like us. We feel every ounce of the weight of our decisions, and we are young, the world is big, and we can do literally anything we want, but we want to live our one life well.

Blessedly, I had a wedding a month after my college graduation. I emptied myself of energy in preparation, not even allowing my mind to consider what had just happened. It was a cushion for the shock that came in the days after I walked across the stage. A putting off of the inevitable.  After the honeymoon was over and the dust settled on what had become my life, I grieved and grieved hard. If you hear nothing else, hear this: it is okay to grieve.

I spent five months at home before I found a job. Those five months were some of the most difficult, because much of my time was spent alone. My husband had a full time job, and we were in a town where we didn't know anyone.

And then I met you. As much as two people can bump into each other via the internet nowadays, we did. I will always count our meeting among the gifts -- tangible proof that the Lord knew just what I needed.

I had the pleasure of watching you transition to your final year of college, a year that I know has left its mark. You decided, as if out of the clear blue sky, to change your major. Senior year of college, and I know you must have been feeling like your life had been hijacked.

When we're introduced to Abra(ha)m, scripture says "the LORD had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.'" I think God is still in the business of calling us out of our comfort zones, plucking us from all familiarity and planting us smack dab in the middle of the unknown. 

There's an old proverb that says the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I've learned that great leaps of faith are often disguised by these steps.

And I've learned that at the end of the day, God pulls us out of our comfort zones so we can experience the true meaning of comfort: that the Lord provides all things. I've learned that in the seasons of loneliness, His presence is near, and when we feel empty, He is only preparing to fill us.

I've learned that there are questions. Should I get married? Should I apply for a masters degree? Where should I live? Who am I? And I've learned that He holds the answers.

I've learned that He goes before us, and that everything is held together by His grace. When it seems like our comfort zone is so far out of sight, the Comforter is drawing us closer. When it seems like we're faced with all the questions and none of the answers, we have unadulterated access to the Giver of all wisdom.

We simply have to take the first step. And the real secret? God told Gideon to go in the strength that he had. There's no formula, no code, and blessedly, no scantron. We just move. We put one foot in front of the other, open our hands a little bit more, and a little bit more...

to grace.

 

-- because its hard to put myself out there {sensitivity, introversion, and a little tough love}.

My subscription feed is seemingly growing by the minute tonight as I hunker down in bed with some milk and oreos. I just wandered over to Sarah's space and found her words about being a highly sensitive person. So I went and took the test, which says that if you select fourteen or more of the twenty-seven statements as being true of yourself, you may be a highly sensitive person. I ended up selecting 24/27, which basically means too much stimuli, and I'm done for. Its something I've been trying day in and day out since I was in college to put words to. They told me back then that I would likely never find that kind of community again in my lifetime, and I've found out in the nine months since I put on my cap and gown just how right they were. I have been incredibly lonely, and being an introvert and a highly sensitive person isn't exactly a recipe for success in my mind when it comes to budding new relationships and meaningful opportunities to serve.

swhquoteNewsflash: I have always been an introvert. Of my INFJ personality traits, introversion has always been the highest percentage, hanging out between 75 and 85% depending on the day. I've come to the realization putting myself out there in college was much easier because there were people around me 24/7. I went to church with my school friends, did work study with them, played intramural sports with them, made short films with them for class assignments, had "family dinners" with them, put on summer camps with them, and got married with them. And now that college is over and we've all gone our separate ways, I realize I've forgotten how much effort it takes to forge new, deep relationships.

Its hard and scary, this feeling of starting from square one in "the real world."

Over the weekend, my husband and I went to a volunteer's conference for church. There was a big emphasis on having high energy and making guests feel like they are being welcomed home when they walk in the doors. Few things bring me more joy than meeting someone where they are and hearing their stories, but I have long struggled to master the enigmatic enthusiasm that most of the young adults in my church have. I have even wondered at times if my apparent lack of energy and enthusiasm equates to a lack of passion for the gospel.

It’s a big, hard thing to discover that God gave me less energy and more sensitivity than He did others. -- Sarah Sandel

I recognize that my story is not everybody's norm, and I have learned to be okay with who I am -- but I still battle this part sometimes, because I feel like I have a lot to give at this point in my life. And I want to know and be known, but it can be scary to venture out of my comfort zone when personalities are so starkly different and I don't know if I'll be accepted as the introvert with low energy and high sensitivity. Its a conversation I frequently have with my husband on the drive home, and sometimes I get frustrated with him for so easily infiltrating whatever social situation is in front of him.

Confession: its easier to hide behind a computer and ignore the issue. Even typing these insecurities out is scary.

But hiding is not what I've been called to -- not by a long shot.

The calling to meet people where they are requires movement on my part. It requires a stepping out from the coffee corner and being intentional about inviting her to do lunch or them to go out on a double date and talk about seasons of life and what God is doing. If Jesus gave up the comfort and the glory of heaven to get down in the trenches of humanity's mess and build relationship, surely I can risk creeping out of the coffee corner.

I'm called to be authentic, and in the words of Brene Brown, "authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen."

Sarah said it comes down to being a good steward, and I couldn't agree more. Finding my freedom and identity in Christ means I don't have to work to compensate for anything. He equipped me this specific set of personality traits in order to bring Him glory. He never asks me to be someone that I'm not. All He requires is that I show up.

---

walk

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram