Monday, December 5, 2016

Whatever Little Heartbreaks: transition, change, & why feeling is okay

It's been a really long time since I've written a long post on here. A few weeks, maybe even a month. 

That's weird, because that's what this blog is for, for me. I always write. And I always know something is a little off when I have no words to say, when I don't have any story to tell.

We've all been grappling with it, friends I've talked to; and whose blogs I've read, instagram posts I've seen, social media snippets I've observed, who are really struggling with missing the mountains, and each other. So many friendships came from the past year of my life in Colorado (where I was living from January until September, for those who don't know); so many friendships, and not even just friendships, but things even littler than that: just, 'acquaintances,' call them. 

Time spent with 'people you didn't even know that well but who were a really positive influence on your life somehow.' 

Real good people. Supportive people. Adventurous people, people with hearts that wanted what you wanted too. And of course, those mountains, and all the time we spent in them. The naturalness of adventure. 

You realize how absolutely lovely it is to just be with people who simply want to simply live. 
So forgive that this post may be a little raw and rusty. If anything, it's just an honest spill. Life is life wherever you go, of course; and I don't believe that chasing 'high' experiences, or depending on emotional elation, thrilling experiences, or the company exclusively of like-minded people to sustain you is a good life strategy for deep contentment, but if I'm just simply being honest: I miss not only the mountains, the adventure, the great outdoors, but the spirit of everything- the people, the energy, the commeradery, the joy- that came so naturally along with that. 

And being home from what was basically an 8-month stint in a glorious fantasy-land of perfectly-fit-for-me adventure that I knew going in was only temporary, well, it brings up all the reminders of why I felt the pull to leave in the first place. 

Subtle things, not major or too inner: beauty being the most obvious (let's be honest, I live in Illinois...), but also things like the hope of finding something more, listening to the inner knowing that changing direction and taking a leap always leads to something, some new growth in your life, that always takes a long time and never looks like what you think it will.

And that's what I really sat down to write about today: what's really going on in seasons of transition.
These are always the seasons our human impatience wishes would just wrap up already. The ones where we wish we could just see the fruit, because we don't like to just wait for what's next. Seasons of transition are not like those where we're comfortable, even if it's in our own discomfort. There was a time in my life where I was unhappy- and that's where I stayed. In this really adolescent mentality of victimization where creativity, love, worth, and intentionality never grew. 

A time I knew things didn't feel good- but I wouldn't move. We've all been there, because we all do the best we can until we know better. Until our thinking really changes- and so does our heart, our inside- and we're transformed, never to go back.

The job that's not satisfying, the relationships that are a dead end, the friendships that are not really growing us, the ways of thinking that are in no way helpful... and it takes us all our own time, our own awakenings, our own recognition of our own self-defeating patterns to cast that complacency away forever, by taking on new ways of thinking, perceiving, understanding, and then acting. 

To find conviction, invigorated purpose, real connection to our own life, an ultimate direction- and then once we do, to keep moving. An object in motion stays in motion. That's a good thing. I'm grateful for a sense of life that's purpose-driven, for a sense of forward motion toward my dreams, my calling, my development, and my understanding of who God has called me to be. That, literally, is a life-saver. If there's a greater weapon against mediocrity on every level, even when I'm feeling down, or a little 'off,' I haven't found it.
But that shift- from 'I know this is comfortable' to 'I know this is going to be uncomfortable, but I've got to do it'- is essential. And I think once it happens, therein comes our season of transition: discomfort, uncertainty as to what's next, a little impatience, a little frustration. 

In terms of overall mentality and way of thinking, I guess I made that transition some time ago. But that means that there are going to be these subsets of life where in order to reach the next level, so to speak, I guess there's going to be time spent in the proverbial waiting room until the next chapter begins. And when we're there- and here's what I've needed a kick in the butt to remember lately- there is such a thing as waiting well. Waiting patiently, prayerfully, expectantly but not anxiously.

I've also learned that mourning is part of the process of so doing. I think there's this illusion surrounding strength and positivity that says we can't or shouldn't experience/express sadness, depression, fear, or even mere frustration when we're disappointed, or feeling low, or getting over something, or simply moving foward- which is hard sometimes too. No matter the reason, it's okay to be a little less than okay.

And it's okay that happiness isn't always our feeling as long as joy is always our anchor. Contentment ultimately comes in a strong, unshakable root system- in our values, virtues, beliefs, and fundamental truths- not in emotions. And there should be no shame, and certainly no sense of failure, in being a little sad.
Knowing this takes a great deal of pressure off ourselves when we're feeling out of sorts, for whatever reason. And yeah, like I said: I am. Everything in life is basically going right. I'm by no means depressed. But our feelings come from more subtle places than that: how we react to changes, how authentic we have the opportunity to be at any given time, how many good, sound, life-giving relationships we have closely around us (I've learned that that's a big one); how invested we are in activities that bring us joy, how well we feel heard; how well we feel valued, loved, stood behind, supported and respected; how well our particular needs are being recognized and met, by ourselves and others. Sometimes, the weather. It depends where we're at.

But ultimately, it's simple: if we know circumstance can be the cause of any despair, we will eventually figure out that changing it will not ultimately be the solution. 

Maybe periods of transition are supposed to make us reflect. To take time and feel what we don't necessarily want to feel, but to get us in touch with what's necessary: you never know how down the road your pain may be useful to you. And with a sense of purpose in life, pain is always redemptive. It transforms, it's not permanent unless we chose to cling to it. That's good. The little bumps in the path can shape us for good, even if we can't see how right at the moment.

And part of that is realizing that the path keeps going.
There's a 'next.' There's a hope. There's something coming up. Feelings aren't everything. But I think before we can believe that, we need to just feel our own despair, our own sadness, disappointment, even just bummed-out-ness, if that's all it is, if that's what we really feel. No matter how stupid we may think they are, or how weak they may make us feel, feelings are just feelings. 

That doesn't mean 'suppress them.' It doesn't mean 'don't believe they come from anywhere important.' They do come from somewhere important. They're a sign that something's up or something's off- that grief, of whatever depth- needs to be felt.

Hemingway said, 'there's nothing to writing, you just sit at a typewriter and bleed.' I know that's all art is too, really: it's the statement that there's nothing but a very thin membrane at best separating you from every experience in the world. In times of pain, waiting, transition, I realize most that creativity is just constant receptivity: yes, to happiness, joy, wonder- but also to sadness, brokenness, impatience. It's a good thing, like a pulse; pretty simply, like a reminder you're alive. You feel. And you can share those feelings, whatever they are, however beautiful or however ugly, because they both carry truth.

Not because they're always impressive, but because they're always honest. And that's the point. That's enough.


Ellen said...

You moved me to tears...I am experiencing the same feelings having also had the Colorado/YMCA experience! It has created in me an active desire (rather than the previous passive desire) for more than just a daily existence.
Thank you, Lauren! xoxo

Fly Solo said...

Love it. Love it all...

Fly Solo said...

Love it. Love it all...