Monthly Archives: December 2015
Happy Friday, dear friends.
Today’s post marks the end of our Breathing Room Blog Book Club! I’ve loved journeying back through the nuances of the book with you this fall.
This book is my love letter to every soul that has ever been hurting. Some of you thought you were the only one. You were alone. No one understood. I hope Breathing Room is one small gesture that helps you know . . . me too.
It’s an interesting thing to go back and read through a book you’ve written. I realized that many of the events written about in this book feel less acute now, but — the truth is — I have not evolved beyond the struggles that I explain. In other words, I have not “learned a few things” and been able to just move on with my life. I have to practice the practices in this book. By God’s grace. Every day.
I practice beginning again, talking back to the brain vultures, sharing real life, rejecting frantic, being nonGodly, saying no to the bad pants . . . just to name a few. I want to normalize the fact that these are practices and postures we must continue exercising, not necessarily skills we master, or information we possess.
I hope you have begun to see the book as a series of practices, too. Watching the gutter is our last one, and this last chapter is a celebration of being able to see. When we’re in the thick of the Come Apart, it’s so hard to see. So hard to trust that the light will return. In these times, God gives us glimpses of beauty, symbols of his love for us — often totally unexpected. And I just love that.
In this final chapter, I tell a story about witnessing gorgeous hot pink bougainvillea petals dancing down the street on gutter water . . . and how it arrested me when all I had been seeing (and feeling) for days was beige. You will see this story again in the future. That’s a little tease. It became the jumping off point for some important revelations in my life. What it meant to show up, emerge, let myself been seen. You’ll hear more about all that in the months to come.
For today, I leave you with my love and my belief in you. That you can see the wonder that is in the world around you, even if it shows up in gutter water. And, a I share in the Postlude, that you would have the perseverance and encouragement to “continue.” Continue engaging in these life-line practices that will bring you back to yourself and to God and to those you love.
Thank you to SO very many of you who continue to tell me that the stories in this book saved you in some small or large way. It makes me want to fall down dead on the floor from the tenderness of it all. Thank you for walking the worn path of grace with me. Thank you for giving me hope.
With so much love,
P.S. If you know someone who could use a dose of understanding this Christmas, Breathing Room is just about $10 on Amazon right now, which is a great price!!
I was sitting at My Group last night, talking with girls I love so deeply and have walked so many miles with. We talked about tasks, expectations, plans, decor, ideas, assumptions . . . we told stories about what has happened in our lives since we last met, what we’re looking forward to, what is on the docket for each of us this month. We talked about relatives visiting and test scores and paint colors and babies and Christmas cards. We talked about childcare and baking and therapy. We talked about birthday plans and birthing plans and eyelash extensions and trauma. And threaded through it all . . . was letting go.
What do I need to let go of so I can hold onto what matters most?
Chapter 25 — letting go — is perhaps one of the most central chapters in all of Breathing Room, one that anchors the core theme of the entire book. What do you and I need to let go of so we can fully live? This is certainly a big sweeping question — about our lifestyles and our values and our life rhythms — but it’s also a daily practice, too. Today, this minute, this hour, is there something you need to let go of that’s not serving you? Something that, if you were to relinquish it, would create a greater capacity for space, grace, and breathing room in your life? What help do you need in order to let that something go?
Daily, I have to let go of my fears, my frustration with my own humanity, my self-doubt, my self-aggrandizement, my reluctance, my need to fix and solve and figure it all out. Hourly, even, I have to do those things . . . ask God for the grace to open my hands and breathe. To stop trying to constantly do his job for him.
This is the time of year when all our best intentions collide with our real time capacity. It’s an invitation — often one I don’t particularly appreciate — to open our arms and receive our humanity, as we receive God coming to us in the human form. It’s a celebration, oddly, of fragility, limits, flesh. God chose a human body. He let go, so we could truly live. And as we embrace the humanity of God, may we also embrace the humanity of ourselves and each other.
This isn’t necessarily about whether or not we send Christmas cards this year or we bake peanut butter balls or we do or don’t put Christmas lights on the outside of our homes. This isn’t about how many activities we schedule, parties we attend, or platters we deliver. It really has nothing to do with all that, as we all have completely different capacities and normals this holiday season. Two years ago, Steve had hip surgery, and our capacity that year was just completely different than our capacity this year. In 2008, I was deeply pregnant with two babies at this time of year, and our capacity — after bringing them into the world on December 23 — was totally different than the years before and since. I was laying in hospitable bed that Christmas.
It’s not so much about what you and I choose to do or don’t do. It’s deeper, more essential than all that. It’s about letting go of the ways we tell ourselves we must function in order to be loved.
When you have a chance, read the story at the end of Chapter 25, the one about the little girl in Miss Leonard’s class. It is the most poignant reminder of how we are loved in all our humanity.
We come to the door with all our maladies and brokenness only to be received with revolutionary love.
No matter what you and I decide to hold onto and what we decide to let go of this Christmas, let it be motivated by one thing: Our humanity. Let us live and give and love from our fleshy, limited, fragile, messy, magical humanity. Not from a slicked-up version of ourselves that must function in a certain way in order to be loved and accepted.
If the Christmas story tells us anything, it tells us this: It’s holy to be human.
It’s holy to let ourselves be imperfect.
It’s holy to let ourselves let go.
It’s holy to let ourselves be touched by the miracle.
It’s holy to let ourselves be loved.