One day, many years ago, a family member sat me down and told me her story of sexual assault. Her story was meant to be a warning. She did not want me to become prey to the same predator who assaulted her. Telling her story was very scary for her, but she summoned the courage to do it because she knew she could not sit on her knowledge any longer. There are times when the need to speak the truth is more important than the fear.
I have a tattoo on my lower abdomen. It's the word "faith" encircled with an infinity symbol. I got it because I wanted a reminder to always have faith. I got it on my lower abdomen because I figured in times of needing faith, I would lower my head in sadness or despair, and I would see my tattoo, or at least the spot where the tattoo is. I don't generally walk around with my lower abdomen uncovered. I've given birth to three children. Nuff said. But you get what I mean. That tattoo is always there when I need it. But the actual faith itself? No so much. See, faith means trust. They are intrinsically linked. You can't have one without the other. And trust is not an area where I excel.
A couple weeks ago, I made a huge decision. I decided to slow down on my graduate work and take one class at a time instead of two. For some people, looking at my very full life, this would be simply the logical choice. In fact, many people would have stayed at one class at a time from the very beginning. But for me, it took a year of high stress and more than a few panic attacks for me to realize that putting that much on myself was not only unnecessary, it was unkind.
Recently, I went on a trip to Dallas, Texas, as part of my master's degree program. I arrived the day before the event started. I was worried about the travel and being away from my family for that long. But it wasn't until I arrived and was standing in my hotel room, realizing that I now had 30 hours of time completely on my own, with nothing to do, in a large and unfamiliar city, that reality really sunk in.
Hello, my friends! It's been awhile. I know. I have been focusing hardcore on my family, my job, and my studies. I've also been putting lots of thought into a new project that I've had in the back of my head for a long time. It's near and dear to my heart, and I'm so happy to finally bring it to life.
Perfection. We want it. We admire it. We aspire to it. If we purchase something that is broken, we return it. If something we already have breaks, we fix it or throw it out. And according to some social media profiles, some of us appear to have achieved perfect lives. Everywhere we look, there is the assumption that if something is flawed, it is unworthy. So what does that say about us? If we are not perfect, are we unworthy?
I've been thinking a lot lately about the person I used to be. Back when I was much younger, and just out of high school. It was my first time out on my own, away from everyone who knew me. When I was growing up, I basically lived in a fishbowl. As the child of a pastor, there were always eyes on me. An entire congregation watching me, making judgements, and placing expectations on me. I don't remember ever feeling that I could just relax and not worry about fitting into a particular role. Some pastor kids live up to that expectation, and try to be perfect. Others run from that role and rebel, making every opposing choice they possibly can in a desperate attempt to not be forced into a mold. I didn't do that. I went for the perfection route.
My husband told me something one day that completely changed my perspective. I was going through a challenging time, and I told him I felt like no one was supporting me. He told me that since I am normally so strong, and work so hard on making it look like I have it all under control, that he forgets that sometimes I don't actually have it all under control. That I'm actually having a really hard time, and I'm just not showing it. The implication was clear--for me to get the support I need, I have to be honest about the fact that I need support.
This is one of my favorite times of the year. Not because of the gifts, although I like giving and receiving gifts as much as the next person. But my love for this season, the beginning of a new year, is because it is the perfect time for self-reflecting. And I can self-reflect like nobody's business. Just hand me a journal and a cup of coffee, and I will happily ensconce myself in dreaming, clarifying, and planning until someone yanks me away for food and water. Last year, I picked four feeling words to guide me in the next year. One of those words was "authentic". I was determined to step more deeply into my authentic self. More, I wanted to show my authentic self to the world. I wanted to show up in my relationships more honestly. I was sure that this would lead to deeper relationships. And in most cases, it has. Some relationships have evolved beautifully this past year. But some pain has come from this, too. When I put myself out there more authentically, I had the painful realization that not everyone cares to see the real me. And not everyone deserves to see the real me.
I'm currently reading the book Hand Wash Cold. In it, the author, Karen Maezen Miller, makes the point that laundry is life. Literally. Life is also dishes. And all those other things that we often try to rush through or avoid. Your life is not an ideal "someday". It isn't a perfect vacation. It isn't waiting for you to get the perfect job, or the right career. Your life is the everyday details you currently deal with all the time. Like laundry. And there is an incredible amount of beauty to be found in the sheer realities of life. While reading her book, I found myself thinking about how much a pile of laundry says about your life. The words below just tumbled out of my head and heart. Perhaps they will remind you of the gorgeous details to be found in your own life.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. This is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty, authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.