Some shifts and changes have happened in my life recently and during this time of transition, I find myself more and more free and present in my life than before. The weight of so much resting on my shoulders has slowly lightened and in some ways, disappeared altogether.
The side effects of the stress I was dealing with meant stolen joy, a lack of ability to be present, and a fuzzy scattered memory. A few more strands of my hair are now a silvery gray. But slowly, and then more and more quickly, I have begun to be present in my life once again.
Annoyed with a Beloved Author
Driving to my soon-to-be new sister-in-law’s bridal shower in Pennsylvania (it would have been simpler to just say Lauren), John and I listened to the first part of Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest. (Stop what you’re doing, buy it, and come right back). It was a familiar balm to my soul. Rest, stop striving, slow down. A constant prophetic reminder in my life that comes up over and over again.
And it’s not always about physical rest. I’ve grown enough in my self-care over the years that I’m careful not to push my body too far now. But to quiet the emotional rollercoaster I often strap myself into? To push the pause button on the negative inner dialogue I have with myself? To actually discover, accept and then live out who I really am? For me, that takes pursuing peace, a ceasing of noisy striving, and a better rhythm in my mind. I need new patterns of thinking about myself and others.
But at some point I got annoyed with Shauna and pushed the pause button for a break. She kept talking about being present in every moment of your life. It is the theme of the book, after all, and I was struggling to fully connect with what she meant. Like, how? How can I even be more present than I already am, Shauna? What does that even look like practically? I don’t need one more thing to add to my to do list. But I’m glad it’s working for her.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, we’re back in the road to attend a friend’s wedding in Amish Country in Pennsylvania. We listened to more of the book in the car…
Changes to the Tapestry of My Soul
A thick thread has been pulled loose in me ever since things in my life shifted. And life (really, the Lord) has pulling on that thread ever since. I had a similar reaction to the book again. It’s all great stuff but that “being fully present” repetition got annoying and I turned it off.
But the thread was tugged again in several moments this weekend and suddenly I understand what Shauna was emphasizing over and over again.
~Yes, you can do certain things to pursue being more present. Put your phone down and turn it on silent. Key in to what the person in front of you is saying. Get enough sleep, eat good food, and avoid drama at all costs.~
But that’s not what made the biggest difference for me. This thread that keeps getting yanked is loosening my bonds around what I have so seriously built up for myself. These constructs and ideas and practices in my mind and my life. My childlike joy is filtering back into my brain. My memory is coming back and I’m no longer so stressed I can’t remember anything. I had no clue how affected I was until the symptoms started healing.
Perhaps you hear “be more present” as an admonishment. Perhaps you are further along than me in your journey towards emotional wholeness and you appreciate the encouraging reminder to pay attention to your life.
Shifting, Present Moments From The Weekend
As we stood in the middle of trees, surrounded by a ring of flowers, we watched as the bride and groom pledged themselves to each other, to cherish and love forever. I felt John’s soft breath on my ear, as we joined in our witness of this moment. His breath was a reassurance, that our love was good and solid, that we were in this together. I was fully in the moment, being assured of his nearness and faithful love.
As I changed in the morning, I took off the fluffy white robe to put on my clothes for the day. I noticed the sun streaming in through the window and how it warmed my bare skin. I looked in the mirror and being present in that moment, asked God to help me to love my body and myself, just as I am.
As we ordered a banana split for lunch in a new restaurant, I noticed how delicious the ice cream tasted. I was able to enjoy every bite, slowly. This was a moment I presented myself to fully, as I realized the grip of sugar addiction that has marked my life is slowly shifting and slipping.
As I relaxed in the Jacuzzi tub reading a good book with the hot water jetting all around me, I suddenly noticed I didn’t know where my phone was or care. John was a few feet away and that was all I needed to know.
As we drove home, music washed over me while my eyes followed the hills curving up and down along the road. I played the game I always play, pretending I’m on a horse racing up and down the grassy strips next to the forest.
So I owe Shauna an apology…sometimes the reality for a friend and beloved author just doesn’t make sense to you until you experience it for yourself. That’s kind of how I have always learned anyway.
Life can be a lot of things. For now, I am simply grateful for a new season, new lessons, and more healing in my soul.