I have been invited to speak at a dinner on the topic, embracing our stories. I have been reflecting on what to share for the last few weeks and feel compelled to return to writing. Now I know I have said that before and have been bold in declaring it here, but the last year has been a tough one for me in a variety of ways, including writing.
The story of the last year is so much more than grief and sorrow, but it definitely has included that in significant ways. I have learned that losing my Dad has been a very different grief journey than losing my brother. It is not about easier or harder, but different.
As I have begun reflecting and writing about what I want to share about embracing our stories, I find myself often reflecting on my own early story work. At that time, in my late 20’s, I was an either/or thinker. I was invited to consider that as long as I believed that most things were either/or, it would be close to impossible to explore my God-given story.
I was then invited to consider that perhaps most of life is both/and. That indeed my experience could hold a variety of feelings, even about the same experience. This felt foreign to me as I considered the way my mind felt that two conflicting emotions were not welcome into my way of thinking/feeling.
Over the years, as I allowed myself to consider this possibility, I have experienced the freedom to put words to so much of what my heart holds. The process of embracing both joy and sorrow, both love for people and a need to be alone, both a deep ache in friendship and holding hope for redemptive spaces, and so much more, has given me a passion for being attentive to my story almost every day.
But in this last year, I lost sight of my both/and in my writing. When I have sat down to write, I have felt a tension that if I write about the good, I will not be true to my sorrow and if I write about the sadness, I will not be honest about all the goodness that surrounds me. And to consider writing about both felt difficult as well. And so I did not write.
As we approach the first anniversary of my Dad’s death, I am aware that I have stories I want to write, I have experiences I want to share, I have memories I want to record. I want to reflect on the depth of the last year but also about what today and tomorrow, next month and next year might be shaping up like. I want to return to honoring the many spaces of life that are within me. I want to give my story the time, tenderness, embrace and voice that it deserves.
I have a heart that aches deeply and tears that flow often.
I have a heart that celebrates life and experiences deep joy and feels an abundance of gratitude.
I have a heart that is curious about where God is at work in my story and also so acutely aware of God’s faithfulness and provision.
I have a full heart…
Blessed be His name!