I latch onto words. This has happened to me for most of my adult life. I grab hold of a word and either use it frequently in conversation or end up reflecting on it for awhile and relate it to my experiences. I think that’s why, when I started this blog last June, I decided that my blog entries would be single-word titles. I’m naming what I’m writing about. I’m getting to the heart of what my blessings and burdens are. Words like oak and stirring and joy and forward simmer inside of me. My writing helps me define my thoughts, own them, and name them.
At times, my thoughts take on an intensity. I can easily dream and get lost in reflecting on situations, which keeps me from being in the present and often just ends up being speculation or building up expectations of what is to come. My writing has allowed an outlet for those thoughts. It’s a place to unleash them and leave them. It’s a way of working through those thoughts, naming what they are, and letting them go when I click the ‘post’ button.
My writing process starts with simply throwing thoughts, statements, sentences on the page. It’s a stream of consciousness. It’s all very disjointed. I end up moving phrases together to form sentences, then shift those thoughts around to form paragraphs. What I noticed is that I always begin by writing everything in the third person. I use the word ‘you’, but as I polish, re-read, and fine-tune those sentences, I replace each ‘you’ with ‘I’ and it changes my perspective completely. I take on this state of ownership and vulnerability. I’m feeling these things. I’m naming them. I’m sharing them with the world. Just the tweak of a simple pronoun completely changes my perspective. It’s empowering and brings me great clarity.
I was telling a friend that after every post I write, I feel I have nothing left to reflect on. All of my energy went into wrestling with the words for that post and I am done. And yet, soon enough, I catch a word or an idea or something is weighing on my heart and I open up a new page and start putting those blessings and burdens on the screen. If I’m to experience a drought in my writing, it hasn’t happened yet. I could never have imagined when I started this blog that I would be in the place where I’m at now. I started this blog during a crisis period in my personal life. It was an outlet for me to make sense of what I was feeling. A way to see thoughts and feelings I didn’t understand and had a difficult time putting into words. Over the past few months, I’ve found the words to help me through those struggles and have recorded some joys along the way as well. I have discovered more about who I am, what I want, and what I don’t want in my life. I have uncovered hidden parts of myself that I was ignoring or didn’t even know were there.
My posts are my prayers on the page. I am communicating with God. He speaks to me through these words. I have felt more connected to Him, His plan, and His love for me than I have in a long time. I have grown tremendously in my faith and trust in His will for my life. I love the conversations my writing unlocks. If I didn’t share my journaling, if I didn’t risk and be vulnerable as I share my story with others, then I would miss out on those precious prayers and conversations. The most profound statements are often those that are the simplest. Epiphanies about frustrating situations manifest themselves into a concise word or phrase. Simplicity is power. Own it. Name it. Let it go. . .
“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth. Before Kit’s eyes a miracle took place, for which she was totally unprepared. She stood in the doorway of her uncle’s house and held her breath with wonder. The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her. The dried brown leaves crackled beneath her feet and gave off a delicious smoky fragrance. No one had ever told her about autumn in New England. The excitement of it beat in her blood. Every morning she woke with a new confidence and buoyancy she could not explain. In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
I love this passage from the book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Her words paint such vivid imagery and even though I re-read this favorite from my childhood back in the midst of summer, I could easily smell and taste and feel the October day described here. Autumn makes me feel like a kid again. Half of my growing up years were spent surrounded by palm trees and sand and sunshine. We didn’t have big oaks and maples that turned brilliant shades of reds and yellows. We didn’t have chilly days and the smell of chimneys and falling leaves and fields of pumpkins. I missed out on those experiences at an impressionable time in my life and so now I marvel in all of it.
October is a time of change. It’s in the air; you can feel it. The scratch, scratch, scratch of the fallen leaves tumbling across the sidewalk. The sun dips lower in the sky. The wind blows differently. The air has an expectancy to it, like it holds a secret of what’s yet to come. In my corner of the world, every day in October is different. Just last weekend, I was hauling out the summer wardrobe again – – flip flops, shorts, suntan lotion – – and wishing that the pool was open. Within 24 hours, I was sporting boots, a sweater, and a jacket. I love that this time of year is always changing and takes unexpected turns. Such it is with my faith journey right now. My life mirrors the change of seasons. The dropping of old tired leaves – – baggage, obsessive thoughts, unhappiness – – and the transition into a new ‘season’ in my life, one filled with joy and expectancy and discernment and unparalleled trust in God.
I feel like I’m somehow new, different. Like I’ve shed off layers of brokenness and unhappiness over the past few months that I didn’t even know were there. I wasn’t truly in touch with who I am because I was so distracted and focused on what I wanted, not living into what God had already blessed me with. I made the distractions my priority and those barriers touched every aspect of my life. I am now in a season of change, living into the joy of who I am in this moment. I’m living into my authentic self, free from trying to make something work with a guy who isn’t interested in me. Free from societal pressures that I should be married with children by now. Free from living a life bound by comfort and routine and sameness. Free to explore new possibilities. Free to be me, to be filled with God’s unending joy and His awesome plans for me in this very moment. There’s an excitement in my life and an expectancy in my faith that is thrilling. I told a friend that I feel like a feather and that I’m floating and free and being carried about by the Holy Spirit. I don’t know where I’ll land. For now, I’m enjoying the freedom in the journey, of the unexpected experiences I’m entering into.
I feel the Holy Spirit moving in and through my life, especially in those areas where I have become the most comfortable. This stirring is a chance to reflect on who I am and where I am. Although I may or may not physically move somewhere new – – a new job or a different church or somewhere else to live – – the act of reflecting is, in and of itself, a mode for change, a period of growth, a time to move forward in perspective and grow in my faith. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on where I am now and discern my time in this place. As Ms. Speare so eloquently states, “In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.“