Last Monday night my friend Elaine, of the Soul Care House, spoke at a women’s event at my church. Her topic was “5 Things I Wish I Learned Earlier in Life,” which basically translated into 5 of her biggest regrets.
She talked about how she’s given power to the wrong people and needed them to make her feel fixed and worthy. She talked about regrets around her relationship with risk tasking, her relationship with her self, and the ways she has–in the past–valued being right over being kind.
Isn’t it refreshing when someone gets up in front of a large group of people and tells you how they wish they would have done things differently? Isn’t it refreshing when someone isn’t too proud to admit they had to learn the hard way? We all get the benefit of drafting off their momentum. A huge gift.
At the end of her talk, she invited all of us into a time of reconsideration — rethinking how we’re doing aspects of our lives. Here are two of the prompts she offered:
1. I wish I had spent less time . . .
2. I wish I had spent more time . . .
I answered these two questions intuitively and immediately, and I have been thinking about my responses ever since last Monday night. They are telling to me, these words that just popped out of my head and down onto that paper.
I wish I had spent less time . . . WORRYING.
I wish I had spent more time . . . PLAYING.
When my mind is going South on me, I spend an inordinate amount of internal energy worrying . . . about the future, about my kids, about my husband, about how a particular conversation went, about how I was perceived in a certain situation, about how I’m doing, about the living room paint color, about my house in general, and on and on and on and on. I’m literally tired from worrying.
When my mind is at its best, I am in close touch with that free spirit — that Gypsy — that lives within. I’m funny and free and much much less urgent. I’m able to dabble and I’m much more unapologetic, in a good way. I’m able to wander without handwringing or whiteknuckling. I’m far less obsessive in my rehearsing. Mistakes don’t feel so crucial. Paint colors aren’t so life-or-death. Creating seems possible. Most of all, I’m living out of my true self, which is real living.
For our 10th wedding anniversary, I purchased a card for Steve that says: “I honestly believe that we are two of the luckiest people in the world.” When I saw the card at the store, my eyes filled up with tears and I knew that was the card that said what I am most deeply feeling. Deeper than the worry, deeper than the swirling, deeper than the sometimes-almost-panic, is this knowledge that we are the luckiest. The. Luckiest. We have so incredibly much to be thankful for, and underneath all those layers of worry — in the wide open field of my soul — is a profound gratitude.
I don’t want to let the worry overcome the wide open.
Here’s how I stand toe to toe with the worry. I take deep breaths, I turn toward it (because trying to outrun it never works), and I take on a posture of compassion toward myself. “You’re OK. What you’re doing day in and day out isn’t easy. But you’re showing up. You’re doing great.” Breathe. And then I ask God, for the one millionth time, to help me. “God, I can’t get out of this closed loop. I want to stop worrying and start playing. I want to live out of awe and inspiration and abundance. Please help me find a way to let this go.” Turning toward myself and turning toward God is the revolutionary act of allowing myself to be loved.
I don’t want to stand up in front of a group of people someday and tell them that I spent time worrying when what my soul longed to do was play. I want to get the help I need, do the work I need to do, continually turn toward myself and God until the playing (not the worry) is my first instinct.
You, too? I had a hunch.
I believe we are strong enough to get the help we need to be free!
I believe in you. Today and every day, I believe in you.
All my love,